Category Archives: Wind Vehicle Algorithms

Wildwind AC-72 beta Walks on Water

WW AC-72 beta one

Some raceboats are shaped sleek and sharp, so they cut their way through the water. Others rely on a flattened hull that lets them rise up and plane across the wavetops.

Well, as most readers know, this year’s Americas Cup boats take sailing to a new extreme. Using curved daggerboards and rudder wings for lift, these huge seven-ton AC-72 catamarans can fly above the water.

The boats top out over 40 knots, and they can do three times the real wind speed! (And none of this involves drugs!)

Well Woots! There’s a WildWinds version of the AC-72 in the works for SL, and it looks like a good model of the real Americas Cup racer!

Corry Kamachi is a true Diva of contemporary, high performance sail racing in Second Life, and over two years ago I posted a few pictures of her ideas for a future AC-72 build. Back then the boat had no engine and the hull and rig were without textures. Corry’s build was just “an idea.” 🙂

After many months and a huge effort, I’m happy to report that idea is now alive, and the beta is in active sea trials.

Size matters

As you can see above, the boat is proportionate to RL; that means it’s rather huge in comparison to WildWind’s two other recent boats, the Wildcat45 and the Open 60. For reference, I’ve also added a Mesh Shop Nacra 17 to the group. 🙂

It’s too early for me to tell you much about the WildWind AC72 build or it’s performance, but WOW! Even the first betas are incredibly fast, authentically built, and accurately scripted, and the textures are nicely detailed…
Wait!
Did I also mention… 
It Flies!
  🙂

The boat promises to be an accurate emulation of the real AC 34 Competition Boat. 🙂

I admit I have no idea when the WildWind AC72 will launch (if ever). That decision will be up to Corry and WildWind. The boat’s still in early beta now;  I think it looks GREAT. I’ll let you know the details as the boat nears the launch ramp.

But if anyone’s up for planning an AC regatta with these boats once they hit the water…
OMG, Count me in! 🙂

wildwind flies

harpoon

Laser One

Laser One header

Noodles and Dutch getting wet

This week “Dutch” Kain Xenobuilder launched the Laser One, his latest addition to The Mesh Shop fleet. Laser One is a two-person racing dinghy that emulates the popular Laser, and it incorporates many of the innovative features found in Dutch’s earlier boats.

Laser Class

laserThe ‘real’ Laser was first introduced over forty years ago at the 1971 New York Boat Show. The cat-rigged dinghy was inexpensive, easily transported on a car roof, and very fast. It quickly caught the attention of the RL sailing community, and within three years the first World Championship was held. In 1996 the Laser was added to the Olympic sailing competition roster too.

The boat remains extremely popular now. An estimated 200,000 Lasers have been built so far.

The One Design specs are set by the  International Laser Class Association, and three versions of the boat are commonly recognized for racing. Although the Laser can hold two sailors, the great majority of competition is single-handed.

olympic lasers

Here’s a vid to get you going:

If you have the time, now check out the London 2012 Olympic Laser medal race!

Mesh Shop Laser

Dutch Xenobuilder is well-known for the detail and accuracy he puts into his Mesh boats, and the new Laser One continues that tradition.

two lasers

The boat faithfully recreates the physical dimensions of the Laser design spec, and it goes a good deal further. The image above compares the new, 100% Mesh build with Kephra Nurmi’s prim version of the Laser from 2009. Kephra’s a great boatbuilder who strove to make his Laser as realistic as possible. However,  three years ago the tools were simply not available to provide the wealth of detail that abounds in the new Xenobuilder boat.

details laser rig

click to enlarge

Let me show you what I’m talking about. If you check out Kephra’s green and white 2009 Laser above, you quickly notice that the sheets, rigging, and hardware needed to manage the sails are all missing. They simply wouldn’t fit within the SL prim limit.

Now look at the new Mesh Shop build. All that important stuff is now present, and the detailing is remarkably true to the real Laser. To illustrate my point, in the figure to the right I’ve included three close-up views of the hardware and lines for the mainsheet, the vang, the Cunningham,  and the outhaul.

The images show a lot of fancy details, but how accurate are they? Well, judge for yourself. Here is a diagram of the Laser sail shape adjustment system from one of the online Laser parts suppliers.

laser boom rig

click me

Compare my pictures above to the rigging details for the real boat. I’m impressed the SL Laser One is a very close match to what you could buy in RL. In fact, the match and the detail are so close, I’m willing to bet that’s a Harken vang system on Dutch’s boat. 🙂

Actually, that’s probably a safe bet for me to make, since if you get really close to the blocks, you’ll be able to read the Harken name-logo that’s printed on them. 🙂

Here’s the take-home message: Dutch’s build for this virtual boat is a very close match for the Standard Laser in RL.

Working Centerboard

This is the first Mesh Shop boat that comes with a centerboard, and I’m happy to report that feature is quite nicely implemented, using the PageUp/PageDwn keys. The CB is also physical and adds over a meter to the boat’s draw when fully deployed, so watch those rocks!

However, in contrast to the centerboard the Laser One‘s mast, boom, sails and rigging are all phantom. Although this detracts in some ways from the boat’s realism, Dutch points out that a sailor wouldn’t be able to stand on the boat otherwise. This was a trade-off decision by the builder.

Personal Textures

Dutch has a new, very easy system that allows texture modification for the sails, hull and rigging. A sailor just needs to take one of the included templates, modify it to their liking, then upload it and copy the texture’s UUID code. To install it, the sailor just needs to say “texture [boat part] [UUID code]” and voilà, the boat has a new paint job. You don’t need to edit or unlink anything, or drop files anywhere in the boat!

Laser One performance.

If you’ve sailed other Mesh Shop boats, you’ll be quite comfortable taking the helm of this boat. The new Laser is powered by a BWind 2.5 sail engine, and it shares a number of control features with the VO-70, OD-65, and the Nacra.

ipad2There’s a “cruising” mode that acts like a standard BWind boat, and there’s a “racing” mode that’s adjustable through a tablet interface. (You can get a free iPad tablet here, and you can also get a copy of the wind setter manual here. If you want a copy of the Laser One manual, click here).

Laser One uses an iPad2 wind setter tablet. As far as I know the only difference between iPad2 and the original iPad used by the other Mesh Shop boats is the avatar position. If you forget and use the old tablet in this boat it will still work fine, but it might be hard to find a viewing angle where you can tap on the screen.  🙂

I’ve already discussed features of the BWind 2.5 engine in Mesh Shop boats here, here, here and here. I won’t go into details in this post except to comment once again that this is a unique system and the boats are not compatible with the WWC setters found at racelines. The boats also lack wind shadow and the “usual” wind variances common to other SL boats. Dutch believes the new system has advantages, and that it will grow.

Hud and control features

xenograft hudsLaser One uses a simple, numerical info HUD that’s similar to the Nacra. It displays data about boat heading, the wind speed and apparent angle, and the degree of heel.

The tiller is controlled by the left and right arrow keys, and the sail angle is adjusted with the up and down keys.

Unfortunately, the basic BWind system of sail sheeting is notoriously inaccurate, and (in my opinion) fairly useless for racing. If you want more precision adjusting your sails, here are two undocumented override options for the Laser:

1) If you own a Nacra, you can use that boat’s control HUD with the Laser. It will give you 1° sheet adjustment accuracy.
2) if you don’t have a Nacra and are unwilling to buy that boat just to get the HUD,  you can try making chat gestures similar to the ones that come with the Volvo Open 70. Here’s a command gesture example that should let you edit your own: “/29000 sheet-1” .
(If for some reason you’re anxious about making homemade gestures, some time ago I boxed-up Fearless Freenote’s gesture set. If you want a copy, drop a note to Fearless, Hannelore Ballinger, or me in Second Life.)

Speaking of gestures and such, I was impressed during beta testing that the Laser often responded sluggishly to control commands. That issue cleared up when I changed the chat channel. The command is “channel xx” where xx is any two digits. Once you switch channels, the boat will remember the settings when returned to inventory.

Life in Balance

OK, back to practical sailing.
Real Lasers
are light weight boats with a sizable single sail and a narrow beam. That makes them quick to respond, but also relatively unstable and highly sensitive to weight distribution (hiking). The Standard Laser (aka Laser One) is usually sailed solo, and it’s recommended that a sailor weigh at least 185 pounds to provide effective ballast to counterweight the rig.

That emphasizes the importance of hiking for optimum performance, and the SL Laser One is no different. It has four hike stations for the skipper on each side.

laser hiking positions

click for biggerness

The figure above shows the approximate heel angle for each hiking position. The most extreme hike spot puts the boat on a 39° heel. Within a matter of seconds that invariably ends up hitting the 40° threshold.. and the boat capsizes. 🙂

It takes around ten seconds for the boat to spontaneously right itself. You then get a chance to raise sail and try again. 🙂

laser heelI haven’t yet plotted out the influence of different heel angles on boat speed in any detail, but as the figure to the right shows, hiking to windward on a beam reach can easily buy you a ten percent speed boost while preventing you from flipping over.)

The Laser One can hold one crewperson in addition to the skipper. I haven’t yet looked at crew effects, since most laser racing is done solo. However, I’m guessing the crew effects will be similar to the Nacra.

Polar Performance

Laser polar

The chart to the right shows a plot of boat speed versus wind angle for a Laser One with a solo skipper using a real wind speed of 15 kn with the centerboard down.

The red curve documents boat speed as a function of real wind angle, while the blue curve shows similar data plotted against apparent wind angle.

As you can see from the RWA results, the maximum boat speed is roughly 60-70% RWS and occurs on a beam reach. This is consistent with Handicap data showing the Laser One is approximately 27% slower than the Melges-24 (The Handicap Index boat). That’s realistic and appropriate; the Laser is smaller, has a single sail, and no keel.

The irregular shape of the Laser One performance curve above may be due to the inherent ‘jitter’ in the BWind 2.5  wind engine, with fairly sharp drop-offs as the headings turn windward or leeward. On the other hand, the RL Laser polar is an irregular curve as well. 🙂

LaserPolar via btinternet and Laser One

click to enlarge

Most charts of real sailboat performance are displayed using a radial (polar) format, and the chart to the right shows an example for the Standard Laser. It includes five curves that show boat speed for different RWS intensities that range from 8.5kn to 30kn.

On that same chart I’ve superimposed data for the Mesh Shop Laser One using the BWind default RWS=15kn (the dark blue curve indicated by a green arrow).

The shape of that Laser One performance curve is  similar to the RL boat polar, and the range of Laser One boat speeds for RWS=15kn falls between the RL Laser curves for RWS=13.5kn and RWS=19kn. In other words, the Second Life Laser One’s performance closely matches the “First Life” Standard Laser.

Centerboard Ups and Downs

On sailing dinghies, a retractable centerboard (CB) takes the place of a keel. The CB enhances lift and allows a boat to hold course on an upwind heading without side-slipping due to wind pressure. However, on downwind points of sail, the CB  becomes unnecessary and just slows the boat due to drag.

The Laser One has a CB that nicely demonstrates these effects. In the image below-left, my boat’s on a close reach with the CB down, and it has little trouble holding a constant heading. However, if you raise the CB the boat starts to slip leeward and the nose rotates downwind. As shown below-right, within half a minute my boat fell off the wind by 40 degrees!

laser cb upwind

On far downwind points of sail the CB just slows you down. You may notice on the previous polar chart that the Laser One‘s performance on a broad reach dropped off more quickly than the RL Standard Laser. That’s probably because the measurements on the virtual boat were all made with the centerboard down.

If you lift up the CB with the wind to your back, you’ll get a significant kick in performance, as shown in the sequence below.

laser centerboard downwind

Actually, with the CB raised and the boat in level balance on a dead run, you can even get Laser One to plane once the boat speed reaches 8kn or thereabouts. I can’t comment on that point yet though, since nearly all my testing of this boat used the 15kn default wind. You’ll need a much stiffer breeze to hit a boat speed of 8kn when sailing the Laser One. 🙂

By the Lee

Let me comment on just one more novel feature in this boat. When sailing a run, Lasers can get an added boost when sailing By the Lee.” Let me explain that in two minutes: 🙂

The forces driving a sailboat are a combination of dynamic lift and drag effects.

downwind airflowOn most points of sail, the boom is pushed to the lee side of the boat and the laminar flow across the airfoil travels from “luff to leach” (from the mast to the free sail edge) (first pic on the right).

On a dead run (middle pic), drag forces push from directly astern and hold the sail in place. That allows a boat to cross the wind to the opposite tack without actually flipping the sail (termed ‘sailing by the lee‘). This reverses the direction of airflow across the sail (third pic above), and in boats like the Laser a skilled skipper can use that to get a performance boost.

by the lee

The Laser One models this RL effect. The image to the right shows my boat on a Starboard tack with RWA 170 and a boat speed of 5.4kn. The next image show the boat a few seconds later. It’s crossed the wind and is now on a Port tack with RWA 166, but the boom hasn’t flipped sides. The boat’s sailing “by the lee” and it’s moving at 5.9kn, a 10% speed boost. 🙂

This is a nice effect, and the performance gain is large enough that I’ll probably end up plotting out all the angles and combinations at some point, trying to see what works best. 🙂

Summary

The Mesh Shop Laser One by Kain Xenobuilder is a cat-rigged dinghy racer inspired by the RL Laser Standard. The build is 100% mesh and the SL dimensions closely conform to the ILCA design specs. The boat’s level of detail and RL accuracy are impressive.

The  boat uses the BWind 2.5 engine, and the control and info display features are similar to (and overlap with) other boats in the Mesh Shop fleet. The boat includes a number of realistic race performance features, including a functioning centerboard and 8 skipper hiking positions to balance the boat (with a capsize animation when hiking fails). The Laser One has a polar performance curve that nicely matches the real Laser Standard, and in the hands of a good skipper the boat will plane and sail by the lee.

Like other Mesh Shop boats, Laser One is not WWCcompatible, it does not have wind shadow, and it uses a unique wind variance system. These are intentional features that distinguish the boats from most others sailing in SL. However, I doubt these issues will discourage any sailors from racing Laser One as soon as they can get it out of the box. 🙂

Bottom-line, I think the combination of a remarkably authentic build plus sailing features that emulate a real racer will make Laser One a hit with SL Sailors grid-wide. But hey, go visit Dutch over in Tschotcke, drive the boat around the block yourself, and see what you think! 🙂

laser breadnut

Waypoint Sails New York 32

NY32 WYC Jan13

Commodore Taku Raymaker used Waypoint’s racing timeslot on Sunday  to showcase the new 2.0 upgrade for Maiko Taurog’s ‘Galiko’ New York 32. The Galiko is modeled after Olin Stephens’ 1935 design for the  New York Yacht Club, where the boat was the successor to Herreshoff’s legendary New York 30; Stephens gave the NY32 a fresh approach by adding a modern sloop rig, a new sail plan, and greater ocean racing capability.

NY32v20 by MaikoMaiko Taurog’s version of the NY32 is powered by a Fizz 3.3 engine, and it has a highly detailed, sculpted hull with room for a skipper and multiple crew. The original version was featured at the 2010 Tradewinds Boat Show. The latest 2.0 release has a host of new features, and you can check it out over at Waypoint Yacht Club.

I can’t tell you much more than that since I got my own copy of NY32 just a few days ago, but I promise to give you a full rundown once I get a chance to put the boat through the usual battery of tests. 🙂

WYC-NY32

Anyway, when I logged in on Sunday morning, Taku announced a fleet race for NY32’s from the start line in Blake Sea – Arabian. It was a great chance to get a glimpse of how this boat performs under competition conditions.

Mizzen

Race #1

When I teleported in, seven NY32’s were rezzed near the start line and raring to go. Since this was a relatively new boat for the fleet, Commodore Raymaker intelligently chose a short and classic race format. He used an upwind/downwind course to the blue buoy in Mizzen, just five sims distant. It was actually a great course to test boat performance and skipper handling skill.

The image below shows the Start of Race #1. When the gun went off, it was pretty remarkable how cleanly the WYC fleet crossed the line. Remember, these are rather big boats and there were seven of them all vying to occupy the same takeoff point next to the committee boat. That’s often a recipe for a fiberglass-crunching, bumper-car pileup… but not this Sunday morning. Waypoint sailors know what they’re doing, and the entire fleet executed a truly beautiful and orderly start; it was like watching a ballet troupe in action. 🙂

In image A below, you can see how nearly all the skippers tacked over to the far windward edge during the pre-start; they then turned in single file fashion to begin the race on a starboard tack.

You can also see that Kaz Destiny wasn’t buying this “crowd” approach; he took off for open water by splitting the line in the middle on a more leeward tack position. 🙂

NYC32 race 1 A

The next image below shows the situation a bit later, as the fleet started to fan out on the initial leg of the upwind beat to the Mizzen buoy. Maiko Taurog (MT) was the first skipper across the start line, and she smartly held onto the lead by staying windward of the rest of the fleet. Michiya Yoshikawa (MY) came up from clear astern to overlap between Maiko and Kaz, and the image below makes it look like the race is nearly tied at this point.

Of course, that’s not really true; MT had the height on this tack and was in control with a lot of options. Anyone trying to pass her leeward would get trapped in shadow, and if they tried to cut windward, it would take them an extra tack and would almost certainly fail.

NYC32 B

As the lead windward boat, MT had another big advantage. The entire fleet was on a zigzag beat upwind, and they all needed to flip to a port tack in order to stay on course. However, in a tight race with large boats the windward leader often rules.

In other words, in the above picture MY, KD, and KY are all looking at MT, waiting for her to tack. If MY tries to tack before MT, there’s a fair chance MT will be in the way. MY will  need to fall astern of her, losing both momentum and tactical position on the next leg.

All the racers knew this, and you could literally count the heartbeats of the skippers as they watched and waited for Maiko to make her move. Image A below shows that moment, with MT suddenly breaking to port tack while the rest of the fleet holds course, wondering whether to follow. 🙂

Well, a lot more happened in that heat, but I’m going to interrupt it here and fast forward, since Maiko Taurog eventually crashed out after sailing a really great race. The win went to Michiya Yoshikawa, who also had a great ride and kept on MT’s tail the whole way. When MT crashed out, MY saw the opening and took it, crossing the line thirty seconds ahead ahead of the remaining fleet for a well-deserved win.

Both ayahoshi Resident and KazumaHs Destiny grabbed the runner-up and third-place spots!

NY32 WYC D

Race #1 Results: 
 1: michiya Yoshikawa   ID064MY — 00:18:23
 2: ayahoshi Resident   ID361AR — 00:18:53
 3: KazumaHs Destiny   ID789KD — 00:19:06
 4: Kunika Yoshikawa   ID810KY — 00:19:45
 5: notohama Resident   ID983NR — 00:21:32
 6: Maiko Taurog   ID968MT — not Finished
 7: jeremia Spotter   ID020JS — not Finished

Lap Times: 
 michiya Yoshikawa   ID064MY — Start: 00:00:13  —  Last lap: 00:18:10
 ayahoshi Resident   ID361AR — Start: 00:00:27  —  Last lap: 00:18:26
 KazumaHs Destiny   ID789KD — Start: 00:00:19  —  Last lap: 00:18:47
 Kunika Yoshikawa   ID810KY — Start: 00:00:27  —  Last lap: 00:19:18
 notohama Resident   ID983NR — Start: 00:01:08  —  Last lap: 00:20:24
 Maiko Taurog   ID968MT — Start: 00:00:04  —  Last lap: not finished
 jeremia Spotter   ID020JS — Start: 00:00:49  —  Last lap: not finished

end of 1

Race #2

OK; after what I wrote above, you might think that Michiya Yoshikawa was just lucky and perhaps didn’t deserve to win Race #1… Well, sports fans, that’s why they have a Race #2. 🙂 By the start of Race #2 all the skippers were ‘cached up‘ and familiar with the sim conditions. It was a pretty exciting heat.

Take a look at the Start below; once again it was dead-on, with seven large boats cutting the line at the windward edge, and not a single foul. That’s nice sailing, Waypoint!

nyc32 wyc 2 1

The next image below shows the fleet a bit later; Michiya Yoshikawa won the start and stayed out front through the initial upwind leg.

KD, KY and MT were all on a more windward tack but they were at least three boat lengths astern of MY, far out of striking distance.

nyc32 wyc 2 2

Maiko Taurog and ayahoshi Resident both had late starts. Given the tightly packed fleet in front of them, both opted to cut away from the crowd and move to clean air by tacking to port early. In the first image below you can see MT in the distance moving away from the fleet as Michiya Yoshikawa is just starting to make his turn up front.

The second picture below shows the result after all boats have tacked. MT is making good progress, but she’s on a considerably lower course than MY. The trio of KY, KD, and NR took the turn together, and all three boats ended up in tight parallel overlap, breathing dirty air on each other as they tried to break free.

NY32 WYC Jan13 Port tack

On the other hand, MY was in open water and clean air, and his port tack brought him to the southern border of Fastnet rock (Image A below).

In the meantime, MT and AR had already switched back to starboard to catch up with the fleet. You can see them steaming in to converge with MY just as they all reach the lighthouse.

Image B below shows the setup. Both AR and MT had the momentum to pass by MY at this point, but MY plans his tack well. The small yellow arrows below show the wake behind MY’s boat, as he zips around MT to grab the windward position for the starboard tack sprint to the mark.

MY’s gambit turned out to be pretty impressive. Take a look where the mark is, and then look at the headings for the three boats. Although AR and MT had plenty of speed at this point, they were both too low to reach the buoy in Mizzen. AR and MT were forced to make two additional short tacks to fetch the mark.

NY32 WYC Jan13 Fastnet turn

MY planned his tack better by moving windward of the other two boats; that placement dropped him right on top of the Mizzen buoy, and he took the turn several boat lengths ahead of MT.

From there it was a downwind spinnaker ride home, but look at the second picture below. It’s a view from high above the fleet, showing that all the boats sailed back single file, using identical broad reach tacks. It will be interesting to see what this boat’s polar looks like. 🙂

Mizzen mark

On the final ride in, MT was able to stay within shadow range of MY. That kept the boats relatively glued together, but MT was never able to get close enough to be a threat. Michiya Yoshikawa blew across the finish line in 16:36, just 10 seconds ahead of Maiko Taurog (16:46), and more than a minute ahead of the rest of the fleet.

Nice moves, Michiya!
and
Pretty great sailing, Waypoint!

MY and MT win

Race Results:
1: michiya Yoshikawa   ID064MY — 00:16:36
2: Maiko Taurog   ID909MT — 00:16:46
3: KazumaHs Destiny   ID789KD — 00:17:44
4: ayahoshi Resident   ID361AR — 00:18:06
5: notohama Resident   ID983NR — 00:18:23
6: Kunika Yoshikawa   ID810KY — 00:19:04
7: jeremia Spotter   ID020JS — not Finished

Lap Times:
michiya Yoshikawa   ID064MY — Start: 00:00:11  —  Last lap: 00:16:25
Maiko Taurog   ID909MT — Start: 00:00:41  —  Last lap: 00:16:05
KazumaHs Destiny   ID789KD — Start: 00:00:12  —  Last lap: 00:17:32
ayahoshi Resident   ID361AR — Start: 00:00:41  —  Last lap: 00:17:25
notohama Resident   ID983NR — Start: 00:00:25  —  Last lap: 00:17:58
Kunika Yoshikawa   ID810KY — Start: 00:00:23  —  Last lap: 00:18:41
jeremia Spotter   ID020JS — Start: 00:00:32  —  Last lap: not finished

MY amd MT

You can see the rest of the pictures from this race on Flickr.

Francois Jacques

by Naeve Rossini

The first time I looked at a boat in SecondLife, it was at Starboards Yacht Club. Amidst all those boats, classic and modern, the one thing that caught
my interest and led me around the room relentlessly was this one hull, an orca hull.

I asked the designer if I could buy that hull and Caf said no in the gentlest way possible. “It’s a custom,” he said, assuring me that I could make my own. That sealed the deal. I bought a custom hull for my ACA before I had even bought an ACA.

A month later, having seen Orca Flotta around a few times but disappointed that she never dropped her lovely Orca ACA, I found myself at the Nantucket
Yacht Club line for a race when Francois Jacques dropped that magical hull into the water. I knew then that I would like her, though as a total n00b, I was afraid to approach her.

I don’t know how it came to pass–my memory is muddy with so much learning at the time–but somehow I ended up as a race director for NYC and that’s
when I truly discovered who Francois was: commodore, companion and cheerleader.

She was and is a great friend and a consummate leader. She empowered me, as she did with everyone under her charge, as if I were her own child. She
pushed me to grow, to take chances, to push beyond my limits. If I had an idea, no matter how hare-brained, her first words were to encourage me to
develop it further and make it happen.

In the moments where we weren’t up to something–weren’t scheming the next tournament or building the next boat–we would take time out for her other
great love: vanity. We shopped for skins and clothes and visited so many stores. While she was the great chameleon, I was looking for my perfect look.
We would search and search.

And then she’d have her silly moments, where it seemed like she wasn’t a Serious Business Commodore of a yacht club and instead was a gleeful child on
Christmas morning. I remember getting weird toys dropped on me at utterly random moments. The jet pack. The hovercraft. That… thing I can’t describe.

Francois Jacques was all of this and more. She had a quiet dignity about her that was unquestionable. She would be the eye in the middle of the hurricane. She was the best friend anyone could hope for.

She kept her illness far away from SecondLife and I can’t help but think that we were her calm in the storm of her life, where things should could not control were asserting themselves. We were her refuge, her happy place, and for that I am honoured and privileged to have been a part of her life and she a part of mine.

I love Francois. I wish I had told her when she was alive. I never thought she wouldn’t be there. If I could have anything, I’d want that moment to tell her that and to let her know that I could be just a fraction of who she is… well, then that would be something, wouldn’t it?

Fair winds, Francois. I’ll see you on the water.

-Naeve

Ktaba Teleri MX: A New One Design Racer

Ktaba Teleri MX

The International One Design was developed in the 1930’s by Corny Shields as an affordable club racer. It quickly grew in respect and popularity across the sailing community, and it served as the benchmark for many subsequent designs.  IOD deservedly became the first boat recognized by ISAF in it’s ‘Classic Yacht Division.‘ When Trudeau ONE launched in July 2010 I wrote much about the history and legend of the International One Design class, and admiration for those great boats was a big part of the ONE WORLD Regatta that kicked off later that year.

click to enlarge

With that background, I got pretty excited this week when Craig Ktaba launched his own SL interpretation of the classic IOD sloop. His boat’s called the Ktaba Teleri MX, and for a boat that should be a spare, no-frills racer, this one is chock-full of nice details and surprising script goodies. 🙂

The final version of Craig’s boat hit the water only a couple days ago, so I’m still looking it over. I’ll have a lot more to say in the upcoming weeks, so consider this post just a “first look.” Maybe its just first-date infatuation, but so far I think the Teleri looks pretty nice!

Boat Design

The Teleri follows a classical construction layout that should be familiar to many sailors. It is a single-masted sloop with a 3/4 fractional Bermuda rig and a full keel, and it borrows heavily from the IOD in real life. It’s powered by a highly modified BWind engine, and it can be sailed solo by a skipper or with the assistance of up to two crewmembers. I’ll tell you more about those features below; let’s first look at the build!

click to enlarge

Mesh Machine

Boats with sculpted hulls often exhibit a mismatch in SL between the visible boat you can see and the underlying shape of the sculpted prims that make them up. This isn’t a big deal on a casual cruise, but it can result in confusion and serious problems when sailing in a crowded, “high-performance” race fleet. Invisible parts of the boat can cause collisions, hit marks, or even trigger race lines inadvertently.

The Teleri MX is the first Mesh race boat I’ve looked at closely, and the hull and spar are pretty impressive. In a series of ‘bump tests’ to look at the boat’s collision boundary, I couldn’t find any mismatch for the bow, boat sides, or the boom. I got so excited I spent a few hours banging my boat into things just to see what would happen! 🙂

In the image below I got distracted and hit the dock in Knaptrackicon. Even that accident makes my point: The arrows below show how closely the hull forequarters line up against the dock and wedge against a moored boat.

This same collision accuracy happens with the boom and sails. The figure below shows side and vertex views of my boat sailing downwind into a wall. The boat comes to rest on contact points located on the jib and mainsail convexity.

Let me make this point once again below. In this example I tried to sail my Teleri through a narrow opening between two barriers.

The boat stops dead in the doorway, with the starboard hull pressed up against the white wall, and the mainsail hitting the purple wall. However, the boat will slide on through if the skipper sheets the sail tightly enough to fit.

Cruisers will probably think I’m making too big a deal out of this issue, but the racers reading this will get my point. (That of course assumes racers can actually read. 🙂 )

In the Solstice Challenge Regatta that just finished, much discussion went into protest disputes over “room at a mark” and problems associated with phantom sails and bowsprints. Mesh construction may help solve these SL-specific issues, and make virtual race boats more realistic. As for the Ktaba Teleri MX, the boat you see is the boat you get when sailing.

Detailing

Sailing vessels are more than just a hull, though, and Craig took his time with this boat; it shows in the quality of the detailing.

Go take a look; the winches and cleats are nicely fashioned, and so are the blocks and mainsheet. And as Noodle already pointed out, it’s tough enough to find any boat in SL that has a main sheet. 🙂

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Teleri Performance

The Teleri MX is built around the BWind engine, but Craig Ktaba’s spent considerable time tinkering with it and adding new features. I’m still going through the list of features and trying them all out, so I can only give you the highlights today.

Wind Options. The boat can use either the built-in BWind wind or Race Wind from a standard WWC setter. Out-of-the-box, the boat defaults to BWind from the North with RWS=16.5kts. This is interesting, because the boat also has a built-in warning announcement that cautions against sailing with wind over 15kts! 🙂

I agree with the warnings; the boat is tougher to handle with high winds, so don’t use the default settings. 🙂 You can easily switch to BWind by saying “bwind” or “cruise” and you can choose WWC wind by saying “wwc” or “race.”

If you choose WWC, the boat will look for race wind in competition mode; it does not use WWC cruise settings. Once you have the correct wind loaded in the WWC, you’ll need to say ‘race start‘ to have the setter broadcast that wind to your boat.

For its part, the boat has a simple dialog display that pops up when it senses WWC wind, so you’ll always know what’s going on.

Here’s a simple plot of boat speed v. real wind angle, using that ‘default’ wind of 16.5kts.

As you can see, the boat has a fairly smooth response curve. Teleri is dead in irons below RWA 30, but then quickly picks up speed as the boat falls off to close haul and the sails fill. At RWA 40 the boat speed is 60% of real wind speed, and Teleri then maxes out on a beam reach with a boat speed roughly 80% of RWS. On far downwind points of sail (RWA >160) the performance deteriorates, but the spinnaker nicely compensates for that, as shown above.

It’s worth commenting that Teleri has a strong weather helm. If you let go of the tiller on many RL sailboats, the boat will slowly turn to face the wind, and Craig Kbata’s intentionally built that effect into Teleri. The only other boat I’m aware of in SL that has a weather helm is the New York 30; the rest are either neutral or  have a Lee bias.

Display

The Teleri has both simple and full hud displays that should be familiar to any Bwind sailor. In this case, the HUD tells you if you are using racing or cruising wind, as well as the essential real and apparent wind parameters.

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Since the boat is fully WWC compliant (except for cruise wind), the HUD also displays wave and current information.

When you add crew, the HUD display changes too. The crew can adjust the headsails, so the new HUD includes separate sheeting information for the main and jib (or spinnaker). It also includes a readout of the wind/sheet ratio, so all aboard can keep sails correctly trimmed.

Sails

The Taleri comes with three sails: a main, jib and spinnaker. When a skipper is sailing solo, the main and jib move together and the sails autogybe to the apparent wind.

Over AWA 130 a sailor may choose to wing the jib to get an extra boost, and over AWA 145 you have the option to raise the spinnaker. The spinnaker angle is automatic for a solo skipper, and it conveniently auto-douces with AWA <145.

Once you add crew, things change a bit. A single crew member takes charge of the headsails, and they move independent of the main. If you have two crew aboard, one gets the jib and the other gets the spinnaker. There’s no free ride on this boat!

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Crew Effects

As I just mentioned, the Teleri can carry two crew in addition to the skipper, and the crew control the headsails. They can also switch positions to optimize the heel angle and maximize boat speed under different conditions.

This can get a little complicated, since the boat is fastest with moderate heel, and all sailors automatically switch sides when the boat gybes. I haven’t tested the effect of crew position on boat performance yet, but it will be fun to compare it to the recent Trudeau line and upcoming Quest boats to see how well it works!

Summary

The Teleri MX is Craig Kbata’s first production boat release, and it’s a great start. The Teleri is a mesh-constructed BWind racer that pays homage to the great International One Design vessels of the 1930’s. Although relatively small in size, the Teleri detailing is impressive and the feature list is long. It has non-phantom, luffing sails and a spinnaker for an extra downwind kick. The boat is fully WWC compliant (almost), and it has options to share sailing responsibilities with two extra crew.

My guess is this boat will quickly find it’s niche in the SL Sail-racing world, so you should probably stop reading this, get one to try yourself, and then start practicing! 🙂


Sailing Epicurus

A few days ago I posted a ‘first-look‘ about the new Trudeau Epicurus. It’s a nifty cat-boat that combines the simplicity of a single sail with the beauty and accuracy of Trudeau design.

I’m still looking at how the boat handles; there are lots of fun features to test out. That could take a while, so I thought I’d post a few basic Epicurus performance numbers and impressions so far… hopefully, there’s more to come. 🙂

Control Cat

In case there are new sailors in the audience, let me restate a few basic features this boat shares with prior Trudeau releases. 🙂

1. Epicurus can be sailed any way you want. You can use an onscreen HUD, chat gestures, or keyboard keys. Oh, and all your crew can help you sail too. 🙂
2. Darn, you can even sail it by proxy. 🙂 There’s a skipper notecard that lets you add your 1,000 closest friends who can borrow the boat. Just… well… don’t blame me when you login and find it beached someplace in Zindra. 🙂
3. Speaking of notecards, there’s one for Settings. It lets you adjust everything from camera angle, to tiller style, to wind display and avatar position. You get to sail your way, and the boat remembers it after you crash.
4. Even the HUD has multiple control options that display the stuff you need to know, the way you want to see it.

Polar Cat

The above list is pretty standard for a Trudeau release, so let’s talk Epicurus- specific performance!

I usually baseline- test boats using a fixed, 5.0 m/s breeze. That setting reduces the influence of heel, hiking, or ‘reefing’ and makes it easier to get a baseline performance curve a sailor can compare with other boats. It also establishes a useful, no-frills reference to evaluate boat-specific performance features.

With that intro, let me show you the ‘boat speed vs wind angle’ curve for Epicurus, using a constant true wind (boat wind) of 5.0 m/s.

The figure below plots boat speed as a function of the real wind angle (RWA) in Red. As sailors know however, the apparent wind force is what actually impels a moving sailboat, so the chart below displays a second curve shown in blue. The blue curve plots Epicurus’ boat speed as a function of apparent wind angle (AWA), and it’s appropriately shifted windward from the RWA results.

The chart’s dual display reveals a few things about the new boat:

First, Epicurus’ sail begins to fill and generate thrust at roughly 40° AWA. When the boat is moving that corresponds to a fixed heading of roughly 52° RWA.
Second, the fastest point of sail is a beam reach of 50°-80° AWA (70°-100° RWA). If you own or sail a Trudeau boat, these numbers probably seem pretty familiar. 🙂
Third, Epicurus has a maximum speed over ground (SOG) of roughly 40% RWS, and the shape of the response curve is fairly flat and forgiving; that makes Epicurus a serious and stable cruiser. Such a sail engine calibration is a tribute to the venerable cat boats of yore. They were designed and built to be simple, efficient work boats along the New England Coast.

GRIN. Of course, that never stopped anyone from racing them. 🙂

Heeling, Reefing and Hiking

No surprise, Epicurus is full of realistic features that modulate performance; they should keep any sailor pretty fascinated. 🙂

For example, look at the picture I posted at the top of this note. It shows my boat heeled way over, and it looks like I’m flying upwind on close haul. Actually, take a closer look, as detailed below.

On a windward heading in a stiff breeze, Epicurus will heel. When that happens, the sail becomes less efficient. A stronger breeze won’t necessarily get you going faster; you’ll need to also get skipper and crew to hike windward in order to bring the boat into better balance.

If you boat heels too far though, the rail goes under the water and yoiks, the boat grinds to a near-halt. 🙂 It swamps as water fills the cockpit! The picture above shows Epicurus sailing into a 12.1 m/s wind with AWA 76°… It should be roaring ahead, but it’s actually going no-place! The boat speed is only 0.7 m/s. Although the sails are set optimally, the boat is on extreme heel and the rail is underwater. The reason it is barely moving is pretty obvious; the boat is full of water, it’s swamped!

You can fix this by hiking windward to level the boat. However, often that maneuver proves insufficient, even when you have several crew-members aboard to help you out by sitting on the windward rail.

At that point, when the wind is stronger than you are, you have to shorten sail; That’s when you need to Reef. OK, I know I’ve previously talked a lot about reefing in Trudeau boats, but live with it, here I go again. 🙂 I like this feature!

In the Trudeau Twenty generation of TCY releases (Back when Bush was President), under high wind conditions and strong heel a sailor could reef and T20 would accelerate. Getting to a reef point was a racing mitzvah; the boat would suddenly take off, supercharged.

Well, Reefing in RL isn’t that simple. Reefing doesn’t actually speed up a boat. The maneuver just shortens sail and rights the boat; it keeps it from swamping or capsizing. However, no surprise, in real life that’s pretty important. It tends to keep the crew aboard alive, and allows them to forge ahead despite foul, heavy weather conditions.

Anyway, let me emphasize this point with the graphic above. In the left image, you see my boat heading windward against a strong breeze. It’s near the tipping point, heeling way over, and it’s about to fill with water. When that happens my boat will fill with water and stop dead,until the cockpit drains and I get going again. 🙂 I’m skippering solo and I’m already hiked windward, so what can I do?

Well, the answer is obvious, and shown in the right-side image above: I can shorten sail. If you look at the numbers, reefing Epicurus won’t make you go faster; it shouldn’t. However, it will keep you upright in strong wind, and it prevents you from swamping your boat.

I admit it, I love this effect; it’s pretty subtle, but deliciously realistic.

It’s one of the things that makes Second Life Sailing worth Second Life Living. 🙂

Anyway, I’ll post the rest of the numbers once I’m done having fun sailing this boat! 🙂

“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.)

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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. 🙂