Category Archives: Uncategorized

Romance on the Digital Seas

This will be quick, I promise… but darn, it’s important :-).

Sailing in RL and SL can be be rather wonderous, and often it’s a uniquely romantic experience.
I’m pretty hard-headed I know; but for me, gazing at the stars on an overnight passage is often an overwheming experience.
I’m frequently rendered speechless… to everyone’s great relief. 🙂

If you are landlocked or a non-sailor reading this, you may not fully understand, so here is a clip of Patrick Leavitt and Fanci Beebe from a few months ago to get you in the mood. If you sail Sailor’s Cove or anywhere else in SL, I’m sure you already have many similar images.

RJ in black knee socks and a PFD, Nov 2006

But here’s my point: What’s wrong with that video?
Well, in my humble opinion, I think it’s missing the single most romantic thing any sailor can do for his/her partner

If you really want to show caring and affection for those you take sailing… give them a life jacket. They will understand, and know you are watching over them.
Frankly, on the occasions a skipper shoved a jacket at me and gruffly said ‘Wear this,’ I admit I prolly never once said ‘Thank You.‘ However, I guarantee that each time it happened, I thought to myself  “Wear the damn jacket, Jane. He’s trying to save your life.”

In SL, SLCG life jackets are free… and they are cute, too.
Most important however, if you use the jackets here… you will remember to use them in Real Life too.
The statistics are compelling:
If we all do that one, small, free, incredibly romantic, easy thing… we will save real lives.
That’s it; that’s all I have to say; wear a pfd, save a life, and feel really great about it.

Consider this a mini- SL Public Service Announcement on behalf of Fanci, Patrick, Sanstrom, RJ, Tig, Jane… and all SLCG.

Now GO SAIL!!!


Hawk takes SL-VT Round One

After three match-race elimination sets on June 5, Tradewinds Yacht Club winnowed its large challenge fleet to just three finalists: Amythest Wingtips, LDeWell Hawker, and Trapez Breen. As the sun rose over Southwest Nautilus on June 6, these three champions converged again in Dex to test their skills in a  final shoot-out to decide the Round One SL-VT winners.

The race format was simple and effective; there were three match races that paired all the finalists. The races used the same straightforward windward-leeward racecourse as the previous day from the Siracusa raceline next to TYC’s home port at Dex.

However, please don’t assume that made the race strategy ‘easy!’  Liv Leigh set the wind directional shifts =”20,” and that large variance forced sailors to adjust their tactics to the shifting conditions; this was a race where vigilance and creativity paid off.

Having said that, let me also add that the current version of the ACA33 has relatively limited user options, a very forgiving polar, and a fixed sail set that uses a “Real Wind” engine. It’s an easy boat to sail, but perhaps like the Tako,  the boat’s limitations present extra challenges in championship-level competition…

The skippers who met in the finals today certainly know the strengths and weaknesses of the ACA33, and know how to sail that boat to WIN…

Amethyst and Hawk

The Sunday Final Race Set went off at exactly 6:00am (great organizing, Liv!), and Amythest and Hawk were head-to-head in the first race match-up.

Liv decided on a 3:00 minute countdown for this series; that gave the boats ample time to jockey for position before the start gun went off.  I talk a lot about this here, but let me say it again: Start line strategy is incredibly important in both RL and SL sailboat racing,”  but maybe it is particularly true in a “point and shoot” real-wind boat like the ACA. I think most sailors will agree that  ‘A good skipper who wins the start will usually win the race.’

OK; Amythest is a very good sailor, and the Race Committee conference chatter was full of compliments about her skill and speed; she certainly earned her place in the finals lineup by beating some pretty tough competition. However in this final round she came up against Hawk, the ‘Minnesota Fats’ of ACA racing. Hawk’s performance was a good lesson on start strategy. Here’s what I’m talking about:

Look at the frame sequence above. In this first race Hawk had nerves of ice, approaching the line on a straight shot course leeward of Amythest, aiming to scrape alongside the windward buoy. Hawk played a ‘Classic’ start, and it proved to be the ‘Money Shot’ in this race.

Amythest  took a higher-stakes gamble attempting a windward-reach approach to gain momentum. I assume she planned to hit the line ahead of Hawk, with enough time to barge clear. In “a” you see their positions one second before the Race Start. Hawk has ROW and never changes course, but his timing and position effectively blocks Amythest, pushing her against the windward buoy. Hawk cuts the line at a perfect 00:00. Amythest is trapped, and forced to regroup (“b-c“). She spins the wheel to avoid a collision, and loses five seconds in the process. Much worse, she loses all her prestart momentum and ends up far astern of Hawk as the race begins.

Frame “d” shows that Amythest is still in the game however, full of guts and enthusiasm; she strategically cuts to a port tack as soon as she makes it over the line, but she ends up handicapped and never gets within striking range of her opponent. However, please don’t ever count Amythest out; despite the traumatic start to Race One, Hawk beat her by only 23 seconds. If I were Hawk, I’d really worry about the next match-up with Amythest. 🙂

Moments after the race conclusion, Trapez Breen moved up in position to challenge Hawk in the Second Match of the Round One Finals.

At first glance, the start looked a little like a replay of the first race. I’ve watched quite a few competition races, and I’m a big Trapez fan; she is lightning quick and makes precious few errors. In this case however, Trapez reached the windward edge of the line several seconds early. Her premature timing forced her to fall off and loosen sheets, but it did not  impair her momentum to any significant degree.  As you can see in the sequence below, Trapez cuts the line at 00:00 far leeward of  Hawk, who once again crosses next to the Windward buoy at 00:01.

Trapez and Hawk dance in Race Two

Trapez of course has ‘skill to spare‘ and quickly showed she had little concern over where she cut the raceline at the Start. After the first tack, she set a course clearly higher and windward to Hawk; an advantageous position. She played it for all it was worth, rounding the Top Mark several boatlengths ahead of Hawk. She then adroitly flipped her sails into wing-position to take the long run home.

Hawk took the turn moments later too, then lined up in Trap’s wake to play the only card Hawk had… As shown in the sequence below.

Hawk’s only chance was to snuggle up to Trapez and sit squarely on her stern, grabbing all the wind from her sails in his shadow. From far overhead, the Race Staff saw Hawk slowly gain momentum as Trapez gasped for breath. At the halfway red marker, Hawk saw an opening and made his move…  he swung past Trapez to grab the lead.

Trapez wasn’t done yet, however... she knows two can play this game. As soon as Hawk moved forward, Trapez had good air again and she used it to throw a blanket on Hawk. Although she then expertly closed the distance between the two boats, I guess we all know that “timing is everything” in life. As the boats approached the startline-turn, Trapez was overlapped but had no chance to pass Hawk.

As shown below, Hawk took the turn inside and fell on a course windward and parallel to Trapez starting the second lap. Once again that meant Hawk had the control position and Trapez fell back, caught in his foul air.

After one of the most exciting duels of the regatta, Hawk blew over the finish line at 06:34, a spare fourteen seconds ahead of Trapez.

With two wins under his belt, Hawk was the clear victor du jour for this event, but the second spot on the TYC SL-VT Challenge Team remained undecided. Amythest and Trapez therefore came back to the line for the third, and final, race on the Sunday TYC dance card.

Amy and Trap, Race Three

After her tough match and close loss to Hawk, there was no way Trapez would take second place again. From the moment the air horn blast announced the Race Three countdown, Trapez took off, looking for a win. She quickly grabbed dominant position during the mill, and focused attention on blocking her opponent rather than hitting the line at 00:00.

That strategy paid off big: Although Trapez crossed the line at 00:17 after the ‘official’ race start, she knew that number was irrelevent; she wasn’t racing against the clock, she was racing Amythest. Trapez used the time to decisively block her opponent, and she hauled over the line a full ten seconds ahead of Amy. Woots!

Trapez wins the start

Amy ran a GREAT race, and the day before she soundly beat all her competion. During the final series, the Race Committee chatter was full of praise for her skill and determination; but on this day, in this final race, it was all Trapez.

My guess is Amythest’s day is coming up very soon!

Trapez takes Silver

The 1-2-3 medals fell to Hawk, Trapez, and Amy; well deserved awards for some pretty great sailing.

Given the fun and excitement from Round One of SL-VT, I can’t wait to see what’s in store as we build up to the Finals in August!

Silver:Breen, Gold:Hawker, Bronze:Wingtips

Tradewinds SL-VT Trials


The SL-VT regatta series kicks off in a big-way this weekend. Tradewinds Yacht Club is holding a series of match races to determine which two skippers will get the chance to fly TYC’s colors  in the August finals hosted by Golden Gate.

Commodore Liv Leigh chose a deceptively simple, Windward-Leeward course for the qualifying trials, using a match race format. Each race-pair started on an upwind beat that ended in a counterclockwise turn around the red buoy in Elhadi. The boats then reversed course back to the raceline in Siracusa, and followed it with a second lap. There was a slight port-start advantage, but however the boats cut it, it took three tacks to fetch the top mark followed by a long, dead run home.

The races are still in progress so I can’t tell you too many details about the standings. However, I’d love to talk about one race, between Nobuko Cris and Ziz Kidd, that everyone agreed was by far the most exciting match from the 6:00am timeslot. 

Both Nobu and Ziz are outstanding sailors, and their skill Became quickly manifest in this matchup.

The three images below show the approach to the start line; both skippers are on Starboard, and Nobu is far in the lead. As anyone who has ever sailed against Nobu must know, she is verrry fast. That’s usually an advantage but this time it worked against her, since she approached the line at high speed and several seconds ahead of schedule; the countdown was still in progress.

The middle image shows Nobu unsheeting her sails in an effort to slow down and avoid an ‘over-early’ penalty. even that isn’t enough, however, and the third image in the sequence shws Nobu falling off and running parallel to the line, waiting for the clock  to hit “Zero.”

Nobu pays for her speedy exuberance; she loses momentum and position; worst of all, she gives Ziz time to catch up.

The image below shows the relative positions of the boats several seconds after the start. Ziz Kidd cut the line at a better angle, and ends up close-hauled, windward, and beating to the top mark. Nobu  may appear ahead of Ziz, but she doesn’t have his momentum and she’s forced to ‘pinch’ upwind because of her less advantageous start angle. 

Never count Nobu out this early, however. She was able to hold her position through the next tack, and both boats were parallel and overlapped approaching the top mark.

The two boats are shown taking the turn around the top mark below (note: If you can’t see the red mark in the pictures below, neither can I. I never once saw that mark today. I’ll check with Liv and everyone else, but maybe we can ask Linden DPW to add the usual tricks there so that buoy will rez early!).

Anyway, the usual dogma, whether you race cars, horses, or saiboats, says “The inside position has the advantage at the turn.” Nobuko Cris was in the lee slot fighting across many sims to stay in this race… and when she hit the ‘zone’ she was parallel and overlapped with Ziz Kidd and she had the inside. This was her chance to gain the extra distance and pull ahead. Nobu demonstrated perfect strategy, and against a lesser opponent she could have won the whole race at this turn…

Well, it didn’t happen. The images below tell why. In the first two frames, the boats are taking the turn… Nobu may be ‘inside’ but Ziz has the wind, and he cuts it close enough that his wind shadow has maximal effect. Ziz  steals all Nobu’s wind, and he once again grabs the momentum from the outside and pulls well ahead!!! Pretty nice maneuver!

But please don’t ever, ever count Nobuko Cris out. There’s an American phrase “The opera’s not over ’till the fat lady sings.”  I apologize to Nobu; I’m not referring to her appearance… I’m saying that sometimes great people like Nobu get to have the very last word 🙂 … To understand my point, watch what happens next!

In the image above, Nobu and Ziz are back at the line, ready to start lap two… and look what it shows: Nobu caught up again. She is now inside and well-overlapped.
This race is again a dead heat! Woot!

After they both take the turn, Nobu keeps the windward slot. She has control and is gradually moving forward of Ziz.
My guess is that most sailors in Ziz’s position would simply play the numbers here and just stay their course… and they would all lose.

Ziz refuses to give up, however, and he makes a big gamble. Ziz tacks early, ducking under Nobu’s stern as shown above.

Ziz was correct… Given his skill and savvy, surprising an opponent with a tactical dodge that wins clean air can often be enough to grab control from a less skilled opponent. Ziz had the right stuff… but unfortunately he was sailing against Nobuko Cris :-), somebody with all the skill and more. I can easily imagine Ziz laughing, thinking to himself: ‘Well, I guess it’s worth a try...” as he spun the wheel to make his early gybe.

OK, so it was Ziz’ best move, but Nobuko didn’t flinch; she never looked surprised and never lost a single second of her lead.
These two sailors are the definition of  ‘The Right Stuff.’

The above image shows Nobu a minute later, already rounding the top mark and several boat lengths ahead of Ziz. At that point the game was over; after a series of brilliant sailing maneuvers and sheer gutsy attacks, the closest, most spectacular race of the day landed in Nobuko’s hands. However, anyone watching from Momomos’ blimp high over the race course knew the real result: It was a truly remarkable demonstration of sailing skills by two of the most wonderful sailors in Second Life. We all got a  memorable, free lesson from the very best skippers… and very best people… on these wide digital waters we all call  ‘second home.’

SL- Vuitton Trophy Announced


 Woots! Commodore don Berithos of SL’s Golden Gate Yacht Club this past week officially announced the Sl-Vuitton Trophy series. SL-GGYC plans to organize the regatta in cooperation with the real life Vuitton Cup and USA’s GGYC, the winner of  this year’s Americas Cup!

The Second-Life Vuitton Trophy will parallel the real-life event that starts next week in Sardinia. The SL version will match the best sailors from participating clubs in an exciting one-design, multi-week sailing shoot-out that will end when a final, triumphant sailor is chosen worthy to take home the Vuitton Trophy for their Club. To add the requisite Veritas, Commodore Berithos is off  this coming week to La Maddalena, Sardinia to personally coordinate the SL Regatta in conjunction with the World Sailing Team Association RL Vuitton Trophy event.

According to Commodore Berithos:

” The RL Americas Cup has experienced falling popularity due to extended legal battles; at the same time, the monohull races seem to have gained popularity and acceptance under the format established by the owners of the Vuitton race — or actually the WSTA.
Given the fact that there was already an Americas Cup Regatta in Second Life, it seemed a natural fit for a new club like SL-GGYC to promote and organize the 2010 Vuitton Trophy.”

Falling popularity? Just wait!!!!

All SL sailors are welcome to belly-up and try their skill against the best skippers this two-bit grid has to offer. They will sail the most recent version of the ACA-33 available at the time of the race, and all skippers will comply with one-design race standards. Commodore Berithos anticipates that after the qualifying trial salt-spray clears, approximately 10-12 winning skippers will advance into the final phase, where they will represent their clubs in a series of 1:1 match races that will winnow the competition to a few remaining finalists. Those last regal vessels will then contend head-to-head in au ultimate racing trial that will determine the 2010 Vuitton trophy winner (I’m hyperventilating already)!!

The qualifying and final phases of the SL Vuitton are outlined in a slideshow you can see by clicking here. As I mentioned above, the first qualifying phase is designed to help participating clubs chose the two skippers that will represent them in the final competition. Individual clubs will be in charge of the races and members of the SL-Vuitton Trophy group will help them coordinate all phases.

If you have comments, want more information, or are roaring to sign up, go to GGYC’s ISail website! A lot more info is coming!

Quick Quiz

Click the photo to enlarge!

Quick quiz!

Questions 1-12: Name the above-numbered sailors.
I hope I know nearly all of them, but when I switched viewer settings,
only 12 people had names over their heads! Can you name the twelve? 

Question 13: Where was the picture taken?

Question 14: What was the event?

Question 15: Why weren’t you there? 🙂

Trudeau Rozinante: Romance of the Seas

by Blackbird Latte and Jane Fossett

(Note: This article was originally posted on
Blackbird kindly agreed to cross-post it here as well, and allowed me to add some ‘technical’ data on the boat.
Thanks BB!!

Blackbird Latte:

As some of you may know, I do a lot of sailing around the second life waters.  For the longest time I’ve lived on a Trudeau Larinda I customized, and as I have explored Second Life waters the Trudeau Twenty has been one of my favorite boats.  The reason was practicality, and compatibility with tight spots, difficult winds, and shallow waters.

Jacqueline Trudeau has let me test and toy around with quite a few of her boats over time and while others did hard line polars testing and PHRF (which is very important for racing) I’ve done a lot of testing on usability, features, the sailing “experience” and acid testing including seeing what kind of tight spots I could fit her boats through, how I could damage, abuse, or wreck them.

Jacqueline in her ongoing quest to create beautiful boats that will romance their owners and interest a wide range of people has created another boat I fell in love with.  The Rozinante is ketch rigged canoe body with a cabin.  It was indeed love at first sight once I realized what she was.  As I did testing I talked with a lot of people, and did some reading that just re-enforced my respect for this craft.

I can see where some people might not understand the significance immediately so I will explain a few things historically.  This is another Herreshoff  design but an extremely significant one historically.  The reason is that the canoe hull with sails is one of the oldest known configurations of sailing craft known to human history.

Native peoples from around the globe in almost every corner of the world first hit the open seas in these boats with impressive results and accomplishments.  Even in the days of evolved boats the Spanish explorers used this type of boat for sailing up rivers and the Lewis and Clarke expedition used Canoes with sails to explore the western rivers.  Herreshoff was honoring one of the most successful and historical designs in history and seemed to recognize it’s overall value.

What does this mean to you and why have I gone so far as sailing her every day and replacing my Larinda at the dock with one?

First off this boat is big enough to be a medium sized boat and you can get away with using her in a big boat race.  She may be a bit slower than the monsters out there but with her elegant lines and gentle behavior the people in this boat will have an advantage of advanced control.  She has features such as reefing, weight balancing, backing the jib for turning the boat, and raising the mizzen alone for sea anchor configurations these rigs are so well known and loved for.  Wing and wing configuration on this boat is stunningly beautiful, and in spite of all of these features her physical footprint is delightfully cooperative going through more shallow areas, narrow passages, and waiting to tack until you can almost taste the dirt or sand of the bank in front of you.  The details for use while moored in your own rez zone or sailing her include rigging lines, winches, and even a dual color navigation  lamp at the top of the mast!

She’s longer than a knockabout, with a kitchenette and settee as well as the bed in the cabin yet is more friendly in shallow areas and at the dock.  I’ve counted at least fourteen sit positions making her a spectacular addition to any dock.  Since she is a rideable and you can walk around on her (the booms are even phantom to counteract avatar problems walking around at dock or moored at sea) you can enjoy her fully at the dock, or even just stop in the middle of the sea with or without a rez zone and take a nap, enjoy the different places to sit, or just rest from your journey or spend time with someone.  In spite of this increased length true to the real life design she is decidedly more friendly navigating channels, tight bottlenecks, and rivers.  You can even beat directly upwind in a long series of sims with only a half sim width having to control the sails individually with just a little patience.  She works quite well with Gestures and multiple huds including the EZ-sail hud, I sometimes sail boats I test the hard way intentionally to spot problems or what level of realism is possible with a boat.

If you like painting hulls like I do you will find the cradle for this one includes a paint can, paint brush, and painting the keel animation if you rez her on dry land (this just made me grin and giggle in spite of my serious nature).

So far as the sail herself (and most of you know I’m all about the sail) she distinguishes herself as being a more realistic sail than many of the boats we know, love, and race or cruise.  She responds with satisfying speed and wake at lower wind speeds so you can enjoy a good sail without having to blast up the wind to unrealistic levels.  If you do crank that wind up to gale force winds you will find her complaining, keeling over, and behaving more like a real sailboat.  You will have to let your sails out and let them luff to control your heel to keep speed.  So far as the racing community I would say you are going to love this boat because there is more to her than just point and shoot.  Cruising is easy but to win a race you are going to need to pay attention and work the boat a bit depending on the winds!

Overall for the lone sailor or couple I would say this is the most full featured easy to enjoy craft Jacqueline has produced.  She will appeal to the SL newcomer interested in the romance of sailing, the couple out on a lovely cruise or date sail, the small land owners who want a reasonably sized boat for a home, the serious SL sailor, and just about every class of people who I’ve seen fall in love with historical or classic boats in second life.  The reason is simple:  After years of experience building boats Jacqueline has listened to feedback on what people think about boats, what might improve them, paid attention to what boats were most popular and included all of the features she could to make this the most satisfying boat to date.

Out of all of the boat testing I have done on new boats and betas this has been my most pleasurable experience and I’ve felt privileged to be a tester for this boat.  She’s so sweet sailing her in the mornings while waking up and testing features and reactions has been more of a joy than a job!

I’ll see you on the waters, fair winds!

More information can be found at the Trudeau site:[/quote]

Jane Fossett:

Rozinante is undeniably Trudeau; it’s meticulous in construction and historically accurate to Herreshoff’s 1956 design. BB’s already told you about that, so let me just add some details and performance numbers, in case you get the urge to race this boat (which should occur within a few moments of your purchase, unless of course you lack a pulse).
The boat is yawl-rigged, with three independently sheeted sails (Jib, Main, and Mizzen) that are controlled by an updated version of the Trudeau 3-Sail HUD. Like other Trudeau boats, Rozinante is full of optional features and adjustments; you can set the channel, adjust the sheet steps, and change how the information is displayed. A whole crew can help sail the boat, and a skipper can even share the helm with her friends.

I’ve charted below the Roz’s boat speed as a function of wind angle, using a constant 5.0m/s breeze. The blue curve below shows the “Real Wind” headings, and the red curve charts the same data as “Apparent Wind.” Over 40° AWA the boat quickly accelerates, and reaches a maximum boatspeed at approximately 50° AWA (which translates to 80-90° RWA). As the boat moves further downwind, there’s a progressive, near-linear decay in performance.

The shape of the curve is similar to other recent Trudeau boats, and most sailors should have very little trouble “getting up to speed” with Rozinante (pun intended 🙂 ). Compared to six other boats in the current Trudeau stable, Rozinante is pretty speedy; it falls somewhere between Leetle Cat and Columbia in performance.

The boat lacks a spinnaker, but don’t worry, because Winging is Back! Winging sails is a common real-life sailing technique that increases the sail area on a broad reach or run. It’s also pretty effective in Trudeau Twenty and Knockabout, but not in either J-Class or Columbia. Winging gets a reprise in Rozinate though! The green curve in the above chart shows Roz’s boatspeed at downwind angles with the mainsail flipped to the ‘wrong’ side. As you can see, the crossover point (where winging increases boat speed) is approximately 140° AWA, a result similar to prior vessels in the Trudeau fleet.

Rozinante has one Reef setting that strongly enhances upwind performance with Apparent Wind Speeds over 11 m/s. I’m still working on that reefed polar, but so far I’m getting a 36-40% reefed speed boost at 40-50° AWA. I’ll post that chart when I’m done!

And thanks again Blackbird for a great review of a beautiful boat!


BBK 137 and Nemo: Two Free Tako Trainers

BBK Keelboat and Nemo Nantucket: Two Free Tako Trainers

If you are new to Second Life sailing, the initial learning curve before you feel comfortable skippering a sailboat can prove a bit tough and sometimes frustrating.

Well, two new, free boats were released in the past few weeks, both based on the original Tako engine designed by Kanker Greenacre; suddenly there are more options for old and new sailors alike! Let me tell you about Nemo and the BBK Keelboat!


I guess I first need to talk about the Tako. It was the original Second Life sailboat designed byKanker Greenacre, and it sparked a virtual explosion of sailing over the past four years. Even though Kanker Greenacre left SL at the end of 2007, his landmark creation remains incredibly popular, and remains the starting point for many new sailors. You can still buy a Tako 3.3 in Grey for $250L, and although there’s no product support and it hasn’t been upgraded in a very long time, it still lives up to its logo; Tako is “The Essence of Sailing.”

It has a single mainsail plus a separately sheeted spinnaker that can add a powerful boost on downwind points of sail. The Tako uses a simple ‘Real Wind’ algorithm with wind shadowing to power the boat rather than a more realistic Apparent Wind engine, and it can use both racewind and boatwind.

The boat’s appearance is also fully modifiable, and templates are available for the sails.


The Nemo is a brand-new 6 meter keel boat that’s patterned after the popular Laser and earlier Flying Fifteen in Real Life. The SL  one design-creation is a collaboration between Nomad Zamani and Glida Pilote from USS’ Nantucket Yacht Club, and it’s based on Kanker’s original scripts. The boat comes in two flavors; the basic Nemo Nantucket is the one I’m going to talk about today; it’s free and intended to serve as an introductory trainer, to get more new sailors quickly on the water having fun. Once an innocent new person is hooked, they can buy an upgrade for $250L and get a Nemo-R that uses race wind and has modifiable textures.

The free Nemo has a very pretty hull design and simple rig, and the textures loudly advertise “Nantucket Yacht Club.” (Hey, it’s free, so no problem with that!) The boat’s features are intentionally kept simple. Similar to the original Tako, it uses “Real Wind” instead of “Apparent;” but unlike the Tako (or the real-life Laser 2), the Nemo has no centerboard or spinnaker to fuss with. Windshadow has also been stripped out of Nemo, I assume in the interests of simplicity and lag reduction.

The free version of this boat uses fixed wind, set to what was blowing  in Blake Sea-Atlantic when Nemo originally launched; it does not have a ‘race wind option’ unless you upgrade. I tested the boat in Bingo Straight, Big Fish, Zindra, and around Danshire’s waters, and I admit I sorely missed an option to change the wind  to suit the multiple different locations. If you are a new sailor, don’t hassle with that; I’d suggest just trying Nemo out where it was built, at NYC.

The Nemo philosophy of simplification  is also evident in the boat control interface.  Pretty much any sailor with a pulse knows that Kanker’s Tako 3.3 has  multiple control options, including both an “Info- HUD” and a control ‘Button-HUD.”  However, the Tako can also be fully controlled with chat gestures. That lets many experienced sailors use just a spare, free ‘Info-HUD‘ To provide essential data while sailing .

Nemo-N attempts to avoid that kind of’ complex, numbers-oriented sailing interface so a skipper can focus on sailing. There are no ‘chat commands,’ and Nemo’s info display is graphically clean, and bare-bones (see below). The boat has a single, simple prim-based info display that shows numerical boat speed, with analog  indicators of wind angle and sheet setting, but there are no numbers. (If you want to complain about that, just talk to a RL Laser sailor. They’ll tell you God doesn’t deliver the wind with three-point precision, either.. 🙂 )

Speaking of the wind,   I’ve already mentioned this boat uses ‘fixed, real wind.” The free version does not have a race wind option, and the boat is permanently set to 15 knots. You will need to buy an upgrade to use race wind.  Maybe that’s a blessing.

A Nemo skipper uses a Spartan set of simple keyboard commands to raise sail, steer, and adjust sheeting. On any particular heading, a click of an ‘UP/DOWN’ arrow causes a ten degree adjustment in sail angle, and “PAGEUP/DOWN” fine-tunes that in one degree steps.

Since the boat intentionally lacks numerical info feedback, I apologize I can’t give you terribly accurate “numbers” for Nemo’s performance. However,  using the default settings on a fixed Close Reach, I get a 10% reduction in reported boatspeed when I am ‘one big click’ out of tune in either direction.

Having said that, I did spend time measuring the angles on ‘screen-grabs’ of the circular graphical display and factoring in the actual compass headings. Since Nemo uses Real Wind, this actually wasn’t too hard. I counted it off on my fingers, and never once had to take my shoes off. The chart to the left shows the Nemo Nantucket boatspeed plotted as a function of real wind angle, using the default 15 knot windspeed.  The chart has a nice curve to it that peaks at a beam reach, with a maximum boatspeed that’s a bit over half True Wind.

If you look at polar plots for similar RL boats, this isn’t far off;
Nemo? Nicely done!

BBK Keel boat

Maybe a week before Nemo officially launched, another Tako-based boat hit the water. This one was Becca Moulliez‘s new BBK Keelboat (the BBK- 137), and it takes a rather different approach to upgrading the Tako. Becky’s intention was to upgrade and revise the open-source Tako scripts to minimize lag, resolve bugs, and endow the boat with a simple, clean interface that might be accessible to sailors at any skill level. She came up with the BWind engine and decided to release it free and full perm as part of a remarkable ‘Starter Boatbuilding Kit.

Click to enlarge

That kit is actually contained inside The BBK- 137 itself. If you look in the “Contents” of the boat you’ll find a detailed, step-by-step  discussion of how to modify the boat, or build your own variation. It’s pretty impressive. I’ve included snapshots here of the “Danshire Yacht Club” hull textures that were whipped-up by Blackbird Latte. A few minutes after rezzing a BBK 137, I’m pretty sure you’ll be on your way to  personalizing your own version.

Unlike the original Tako, the BBK- 137 is powered by a full dose version of Apparent Wind, and so the real-life calculations for headings at different wind velocities and boats speeds all apply. Although this version of the boat kit does not include race wind (that’ll be an option in the near future), the BBK 137 has  easy, on-the-fly adjustments for both boat wind direction and speed using simple chat commands.

If you want that wind information, you can get it easily along with a lot more boat performance data: The BBK- 137 offers two versions of a centrally-located, numerical display hud.

Don’t worry, however, if you’re just cruising for fun,  you won’t need to keep squinting at the display to command the boat since the HUD colors change to alert the skipper and crew whenever sheet settings fall out of tune. The boat sails quite nicely if you just follow the colors.

Since the boat uses simple, intuitive chat commands and has a full numerical display readout, it’s very easy to collect “polar” performance data on the BBK- 137. The graph below shows boatspeed plotted as a function of both real wind angle (RWA) and apparent wind angle (AWA).



The BBK-137 shows a very steep rise in performance over 30°.  At 40° RWA the boat makes approximately 60% maximum velocity, and it peaks at 60° RWA ( 36°- 38° AWA). It then shows an essentially flat, maximum response to correct sheet settings all the way out to a broad reach of approximately 140° RWA. At that point, performance decays appropriately as the boat moves toward a dead run.

If you are looking for a more curvaceous and less boxy response than this, no problem! Please remember this is a “demo boat” for the boat-building kit; it’s just waiting for your personal, creative tinkering! So go for it!


The final figure below shows a simple chart that lists the different features of the Nemo and the BBK 137. For simple comparison, I’ve added the Shelly, Tako 3.3, and the Leetle Cat as well. The Nemo and BBK Tako-based trainers share many similar features, and both are designed for ease of use and decreased lag. They differ in several major details, however, including their wind engine, hud, and overall modifiability.

The Nemo is intended as a club-specific free trainer, and should prove very attractive to a new skipper in SL. The basic boat intentionally has few options or distractions and its simple design will get many sailors going on the water in SL with minimal hassle, at least at NYC. The Nemo upgrade turns the boat into a competition version of the same basic little Nemo keelboat, but adds modifiable textures and race wind capability. The rest of the settings remain locked, ensuring this boat will stay ‘one-design’ for each competitor that ventures to race it. If you race One Design, that’s a key feature.


In contrast, the BBK- 137 Keelboat began with a different philosophy. It was focused on cruising, and minimizing user troubles. It continues true to that path, as demonstrated by its very friendly, open-source approach. However, the boat sticks to its own very high standards of function and usability. BBK-137 upgraded to “apparent wind,” correcting a serious flaw in Tako that Kanker Greenacre didn’t have the time to address before he left. Despite that major change, Becca without apology decided not provide race wind or wind shadow options to her boat… YET.
Go back and read her comments. They are humorous, but also show a remarkable understanding, commitment, and dedication. She’s on a mission, and knows where she is going.
Watch this boat and engine very closely…
I sail the Star Bay Oceanis 160 with Becca’s BWIND engine every day, and wow… I still don’t know how her engine makes that boat fly.
Bottom Line Time.
OK, which boat should you buy?
🙂 Sorry, that’s a trick question! They are both free, but I think the answer is clear:
Get both the Nemo and BBK- 137, then thank the builders please, and sail them ’till you wear out your CPU.
Oh, don’t forget to grab a free Shelly, and if you haven’t taken Isis’s free lessons or nailed your own free set of her extensive fantastic slide series on the LCat, grab those too.
It’s up to you which boat in Second Life meets your needs.
Oh? You’re a new sailor and think you want to pay for a boat?
Grin; relax; You will.
The more any new sailor learns, the more they value the skill and effort that go in to all the boats in Second Life…
and the more they appreciate each and every new vessel that launches from an SL boatyard.
So go ahead, get amazed with the two boats above…
Very soon you’ll be clamoring for more.