Category Archives: Trudeau Twelve

“Lee Helm” follow-up

I wanted to post a brief update on the Lee Helm issue in SL boats;  I wrote about it last year, but Orca Flotta’s recently posted about it, and one of the boats I first discussed just got a major upgrade (the Nemo II).

This seems a good time to chime-in once more on the issue.

Deviant Helms

Many sailboats in Real Life have unbalanced rigs that make it difficult to sail on a fixed, upwind heading. Some boats will pull into the wind (called a weather helm), and others are rigged to fall away (called a lee helm). These effects are common and not necessarily bad; often a weather helm can be an advantage.

Anyway, eighteen months ago I wrote a short note about this, arguing that certain SL boats behaved as though they had a ‘lee helm’ bias. Go read that post to get the details. 🙂

Mothgirl Dibou kindly commented on the issue. She suggested the SL lee helm effect was a function of the sailing engine’s heel algorithm. As the boat tilted, the bow swung away downwind. I may not have explained that correctly, so go read her comment yourself! 🙂

I’m bringing the issue up here because I initially only found a lee helm in two boats, the TAKO and NEMO. Since then I looked at many more scenarios and it turns out a large percentage of popular SL boats have a lee helm, including Fizz-engine boats, Tako clones, and several Trudeau releases.

Here’s an example sailing Trudeau Twelve. If you set a fixed, upwind course and let go of the helm, over a couple minutes the boat gradually swings leeward. The graphic below shows apparent wind angles, but the real wind angle changes are even greater; the boat physically rotates leeward by several degrees each minute.

This is a small issue, since few skippers will walk away from the helm for several minutes, hoping the boat will sail itself. 🙂

Having said that, let me also comment that several boats in SL don’t show a helm bias. Those “helm neutral” boats include the Wildwind fleet, the boats based on the BBK engine, the Quest fleet line-up, and the recent Trudeau HepCat catamaran.

Although Nemo I had a strong lee helm, the new Nemo II is now on the hem-neutral short-list. 🙂 In my hands, Nemo II sails pretty straight against the wind, and the graphic below makes that point.

If you sail Nemo II close hauled starting from the Hepurn raceline and aim at the NE corner of Mare Sailing Center, you can let go of the tiller. 🙂 The boat will hold a straight line course the whole way. (Note that the boat speed and wind angle are unchanged in the two views below, even though the boat sailed two minutes uncontrolled, and passed over a sim border en route.)

Click (or double click) to enlarge

Anyway, I’ve probably said enough about Lee Helm. It’s a small point for most SL sailors, and I’m pretty sure there is no good-bad to this issue. It’s just a feature of boat design, and as I said earlier, many RL boats also have a helm bias.

There are now many yacht yards and boat builders in SL, and each new vessel that comes down the launch ramp has its own style, character, and ‘goal.’ It’s great that sailors now have so many options to choose from. In that context, lee helm is just a trait that’s built into many boats, and I think it’s far from the most important challenge sailors face on SL’s high seas. 🙂

Trudeau Twelve

Two years ago Trudeau Classic Yachts launched the Twenty, a pretty wondrous little boat inspired by the Herreshoff 12 1/2. The love and care that went into the Twenty subsequently spawned a whole line of Trudeau Yachts, including the Knockabout, Leetle Cat I, Tahiti Ketch IIRozinante, and even the J-Class.

Chaos in Explorer Mode

For many sailors however, Twenty remained their all-time favorite for coastal cruising. In that context, some may recall I wrote that  Twenty was Chaos Mandelbrot’s boat of choice when he set out to explore the wild, uncharted waters of Nautilus back in those ancient days of February 2009. Chaos opined that Twenty was indeed particularly well-suited for fowl weather. 🙂

Two months later, Liv Leigh concurred with that assessment; Twenty was her  favorite cruiser back then, too. 🙂 Actually I guess that’s not surprising, since in real life the 12 1/2 was the all-time most popular boat Nat Herreshoff ever designed.

However, I also admit that two years is a very long time in Second Life. Despite loving care and multiple upgrades, it was inevitable that Twenty‘s brightwork would begin to fade, it’s sails would sag, and the slats on Twenty‘s wooden hull would start to leak.

In 2011 it was therefore time for TCY to go back to the drawing board, to re-think, and to do justice to the memory of Herreshoff’s little gaff-rigged wonder. That effort now gives rise to a great, new boat that launched yesterday: Trudeau Twelve.

Trudeau Twelve

If you know Trudeau boats, you know Jacqueline Trudeau rarely does anything by half-measures. Months of planning, redesigns, and beta trials were involved before she let T-12 get anywhere close to a launch ramp.

Kudos to Kip

No surprise, Bunnie Mills was there in the planning, busily crafting the Tru-Sail canvases that give life and performance to the latest vessels in the TCY fleet. 🙂
However, this time Kip Zabaleta also came aboard to assist. Kip knows the Herreshoff 12 1/2 very well, and shared his detailed, critical eye throughout Trudeau Twelve‘s development.

How helpful was that? 🙂 Well, here’s a random snippet from one of Kip’s critiques of an early version of T-12:

“…The cleat on the afterdeck should come forward a bit and should be smaller. The foredeck extends aft under the coaming as you have it, but assuming the mast is stepped in the right place it should come only just to the mast. On the rudder there is one pintle & gudgeon below the tiller as you have it and another near the bottom of the rudder, not three. If you put a boot-top on the rudder, it should be on the hull as well. …”

There were many revisions… and Kip’s comments breathed the soul of H12 into the spirit of Trudeau Twelve. Woots!

However, recreating a classic boat in SL is no easy matter. A shipwright can’t just copy the RL dimensions and resize it all. That never works. A good boatbuilder must always provide the perception, the unquantifiable ‘feel’ of a particular sail craft.

I’ve talked a lot about this before; I actually think I got hooked on SLSailing one night in December 2006 when racing Trudeau Defenders. Cory Copeland was sitting right on my stern trying to pass, and I suddenly heard this huge WHOMP! as his boom swung over in a downwind gybe.

I recognized that sound and ducked reflexively, nearly falling off my chair in the process…  I got up laughing, and decided SL Sailing might have a future. 🙂

Each Trudeau release since that time carries a sense of realism and emotional authenticity that’s very hard to define. Trudeau Twelve is not a “copy of some real boat;” rather, Twelve is an homage, an emulation of a great piece of sailing tradition that’s intended to make you smell the sea and feel the splash. It’s intended to make you smile, too.

[So Fair Warning: Do Not Sail This Boat if you are prone to sea-sickness 🙂 ]

Sailing Trudeau Twelve

Bunnie gives Kent and Jane a ride

Trudeau Twelve may seem compact and rather unassuming at first glance, but wow, it comes full of goodies.

It carries a skipper and crew of three comfortably, and has different hiking animations for the port and starboard positions. It’s a Trudeau, so all the crew can work together and help sail. You can let your friends take the helm, or even let them borrow your T-12 when you are not around!

Of course you can change the colors and the sail alpha, but the settings notecard lets you do far more; you can adjust the avatar sit positions, the tiller action, the primary camera angle, the communication channel, and how the boat uses racewind.

click to enlarge

Do you want more? OK, the boat is fully mod, so you can personalize the hull and sails. Texture templates are available to make that pretty easy. The boat also comes with several HUD options, so you can sail T-12 the way you want. (Oh, and don’t forget to give a copy of that HUD to all your friends!)

As usual, Trudeau is all about the details; half the fun is finding the features you missed on first look… There are dozens, but here are a few:

—  Clicking on the deck cleat will deploy a mooring ball and line.
—  The boat comes with a separate ‘Camera HUD’ that let’s you easily toggle between different views of the boat.
— Typing “/1 real” or “/1 app” switches between RWA and AWA displays
— When under power, the inboard engine emits ‘exhaust fumes.” 🙂
—  Saying “/1 tent” deploys a cover over the cockpit so you can take a nap (Of course the bedding and sleep poses miraculously appear).

—  Clicking the lantern under the tent even turns the light on! 🙂

Trudeau Wind

This point is new, and deserves special mention.

The Trudeau Wind system was based on the original conventions set by Kanker Greenacre for the SLSF Wind Setter and the Flying Tako. Without going into details here, that meant that in past boats the ‘Trudeau boatwind’ direction coordinates were different from the “WWC” wind standardly used by most racelines. That doesn’t mean much for cruisers, but it was a bit problematic for serious SL racers.

Well… that issue is fixed. Trudeau boat wind angles for the latest versions of T-One, LCat II, and the new T-Twelve now match the map compass coordinates; life just got easier for Trudeau racers. Thank you to Joyofrlc Acker, Bunnie Mills and Diamond Marchant for their insight and help on the Trudeau wind adjustments!

(The differences between Trudeau Wind and WWC is actually a complicated topic, and it deserves its own discussion here in a future post.)

Twelve Performance

A good deal of thought, discussion, and trials went into the Trudeau 12 performance adjustments in an effort to faithfully transmit the experience of sailing a multipurpose, full-keeled, beamy little boat. I think T-12 succeeds rather nicely.

The chart below shows curves for boat speed as a function of  apparent wind angle using real wind speeds of 5.0m/s and 8.0m/s. The boat has considerable inertia, and it will take you many seconds to reach a steady-state maximum speed at any given point of sail. However, once you’re underway, if anything, the boat is a bit too speedy. Traveling upwind it reaches maximum velocity at around 50° AWA,  and the speed over ground at that point is nearly 60% Real Wind Speed.

T-Twelve’s peak performance is considerably faster than the old T-20. Although the boats handle very differently, T-Twelve’s performance is more comparable to T-ONE, and both boats are considerably quicker than the nimble Leetle Cat II (well,  at least in my hands 🙂 ).

click to enlarge

The chart also shows points for ‘winged’ sails (jib on the wrong side) when sailing downwind. that curve actually underestimates the effect, since it doesn’t show headings over 160°. Similar to earlier TYC boats like T-20 and the Knockabout, you can anticipate a winged boost of roughly 14% at 150°. That then increases to over 30% at 178°!

The next diagram to the right plots boat speed vs both AWA and RWA, using a constant real wind of 8.0m/s.

As the boat falls off  from head-to-wind, the sails quickly fill and the boat takes off around 40° AWA (which corresponds to 62° RWA).

I suspect with quicker breezes and more adjustments, the best upwind VMG for this boat will turn out to be somewhere between apparent angles of 34-38°. Other skippers are far better than I am at tweaking speed out of their boats though! Let’s see what they find! 🙂

click to enlarge

The next chart shows the effect of skipper hiking position on boat performance at various AWA, using a constant real wind speed of 8.0 m/s.

Hiking can have a big effect in T-Twelve since the boat holds four people, and they can all switch sides to balance! Even with just a skipper aboard however, the diagram above shows that moving to the windward rail can cause a big boost to upwind performance.


Four months ago I wrote an article about changes in Trudeau Reefing. I was critical of the old reefing system in boats like T-20, since it wasn’t realistic and lead to new problems. I praised the new reefing system in Leetle Cat II, however, since it kept the boat from capsizing in strong breezes and excess heel.

But T-Twelve is a very different boat from LCat II. LCat is a spry little cat-rigged centerboard racer.  It’s super-tender, and unless you’re pretty careful, the boat will flip over with even a moderate gust. By contrast, T-Twelve has a full keel, a beamy hull, and considerable ballast. It’s hard to knock it down, and if you do it will spring right back up. So how do you model ‘reefing effects?’

Trudeau came up with a great  answer, that nicely parallels what happens in real life. With excessive wind, T-Twelve won’t capsize. However, when the lee rail dips underwater, the cockpit floods and the boat nearly stops dead; it’s swamped!!

In T-Twelve, reefing the main will keep you from swamping in high gusts. 🙂

Take a look at the chart below.  It plots boat speed for a single 60° AWA heading for increasing Real Wind speeds. The blue bars show that between RWS 4.0-9.0 m/s, an increase in wind speed results in a faster boat speed. However, at around RWS 10.0 m/s that relation starts to fail, and wham! With a wind speed of 12.0 m/s the boat speed suddenly collapses,  and the boat is nearly dead in the water.

The same thing happens in real life when you heel so far over that the coaming dips below the surface. You suddenly find yourself sailing a bathtub that’s  full to the brim. 🙂

How do you fix that? Well, by keeping the boat level! If you look at the red bars on the chart, you can see the effect of reefing in T-Twelve. Since reefing shortens the sail, it’s no surprise that the boat goes slower until you’re hit by a truly strong gust. If you’re sailing the boat solo upwind and are trimmed correctly, a gust of 12.0-13.0 m/s could knock you dead (and soak your jeans in the process). If you reef, you can keep going. That’s why you reef in RL too!

If you’re a real sailor and don’t like thinking about ‘wind gust numbers,‘ don’t worry; it’s more fun, and actually more accurate, to just watch the lee rail in your T-Twelve. I swamp the boat when that damn rail dips below the waves… and I love it!

OKOKOK, as usual, although I have lots more to say about this great little full-keel cruiser, I’m talking too much again and not sailing enough!

Go stop by Trudeau Classic Yachts and find out for yourself!! 🙂

bunnie dunan joro chaos jane