Category Archives: BWind

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.

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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!

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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.


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.


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.


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!


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! 🙂

“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. 🙂

Tinies Triumphal

On April 16, with a big smile Charlz Price and Fiona Haworth downsized for the day, and turned the keys to Triumphal Yacht Club over to Tiny World Regatta 2011. Chaos Mandelbrot chaired the “minor, low-brow” event, 🙂 and with Orca Flotta’s help turned the OrCafe into Tiny World Headquarters, sponsoring a nonstop program of music, racing and cruising that ran from dawn to dusk!

Kudos to Beejee Boucher, Greythistle Twine, Jakespeed Northman, BennyThe Boozehound, and Don Septimus; they each took turns spinning great tunes that set the right mood and built tiny spirit over the day’s activities.

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When people weren’t dancing, they were on the water sailing. The competition events included separate morning and afternoon fleet races, designed for the convenience of sailors in different time zones. Between the aquatic hot-rodding sets, Kittensusie Landar and Leeward Cruising Club took center stage. They orchestrated a distance, mass cruise that launched from the Schiffsratten docks in Pslande. The fleet sailed through Dire Strait and passed by DYC in Knaptrackicon to re-enter Bingo enroute to a landfall back at Triumphal! It was great fun, and BennyThe Boozehound piped through his soundtrack all along the way. It was a “Tour-de-Force” of truly tiny proportions. 🙂

Oh. I forgot to mention one of the best parts!

Triumphal’s owners Charlz Price and Fiona Haworth provided everyone with TrYC Tiny-compatible racing and cruising sailboats! The boats are actually pretty great, so go over to Triumphal and get one. They are powered by the BWIND engine, and are very nicely (and thoughtfully) detailed. The boats will carry two sailors and they have adjustable textures and sit positions (so your Tiny can see over the cockpit). The TrYC cruiser/racer even comes with a spinnaker!

This was my first acquaintance with Charlz and Fi’s club boat; it turned out to be easy to use, very stable and quite speedy, as the first group of racers discovered on Saturday morning. That 8:00am timeslot had a packed house with five sailing teams on the startline. Despite the crowd, the weather proved perfect for sailing, with no noticable lag.

The short race course was also well-suited to the short skippers and swift sailcraft; the morning fleet quickly racked-up results for five consecutive race heats. Chaos Mandelbrot was Race Director, and Silber Sands was head judge throughout. At different times, Orca, Joro, Naeve, and Jane were the Tiny Race Road Crew helping Silber out.

The Regatta used the ISAF standard low-point scoring system with one discard. Under those rules (and probably under any other), Aislinn Farella emerged the undisputed 8:00am winner with three First Place finishes! Lothor Vlodovic had two Firsts, and earned Second Place. He sailed a super series, ending a single point behind Aislinn! Nice job! Here are the numbers:

8:00AM Races

Orca and Beejee

Race 1:
1: Aislinn Farella   IDAF06 — 00:07:29
2: Lothor Vlodovic   IDLV42 — 00:07:34
3: Julia Ceres   IDJC61 — 00:08:22
4: Orca Flotta   IDCAFE — 00:09:33
5: Blunt Fhang and Garbet Psaltry — DNS

Race 2:
1: Aislinn Farella   IDAF06 — 00:07:23
2: Lothor Vlodovic   IDLV42 — 00:07:26
3: Julia Ceres   IDJC61 — 00:07:51
4: Orca Flotta   IDCAFE — 00:09:39
5: Blunt Fhang   IDBLUN — 00:09:40 DSQ

Race 3:
1: Lothor Vlodovic   IDLV42 — 00:07:14
2: Julia Ceres   IDJC61 — 00:07:51
3: Orca Flotta   IDCAFE — 00:08:03
4: Blunt Fhang   IDBLUN — 00:09:07
5: Aislinn Farella   IDAF06 — DNF

Race 4:
1: Lothor Vlodovic   IDLV42 — 00:06:51
2: Aislinn Farella   IDAF06 — 00:07:00
3: Julia Ceres   IDJC61 — 00:08:36
4: Orca Flotta   IDCAFE — 00:08:59
5: Blunt Fhang   IDBLUN — DNF

Race 5:
1: Aislinn Farella   IDAF06 — 00:07:08
2: Lothor Vlodovic   IDLV42 — 00:07:11
3: Orca Flotta   IDCAFE — 00:07:37
4: Blunt Fhang   IDBLUN — 00:08:35
5: Julia Ceres   IDJC61 — DNF

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The afternoon races were just as great!

Joro Aya spent the morning session judging, so by 3:00 pm she was hot to sail, and ready to roll. Joro quickly mastered the Regatta Raceboat, jumping ahead of the fleet and winning the Start in nearly every heat. When the salt-spray settled, the scoreboard showed Joro had grabbed four First Place wins out of the total of five events.

Woots, Even under the day’s Small Circumstances, Joro had the right stuff, ending up with a perfect low-point score of “4.” Don Berithos and Gemma Vuckovic trailed Joro at a distance… and Gemma came away with the Second Place showing.

Woots! Nice racing everybody! Here are the details:


Tiny World Trophies!

Flotta Flying

Race 1:
1: joro Aya   IDSLUT — 00:07:24
2: don Berithos   IDUS82 — 00:08:21 DSQ
3: Gemma Vuckovic   IDGV78 — 00:09:07
4: Ipan Tatsu   ID565 — 00:09:09
5: BennyThe Boozehound   ID3333 — 00:09:13
6: Allie Tomsen   ID80AT — 00:15:24 DSQ

Race 2:
1: joro Aya   IDSLUT — 00:07:14
2: Gemma Vuckovic   IDGV78 — 00:07:44
3: don Berithos   IDUS82 — 00:07:56
4: Ipan Tatsu   ID565 — 00:10:11
5: BennyThe Boozehound   ID3333 — DNF

Race 3:
1: joro Aya   IDSLUT — 00:07:14
2: Gemma Vuckovic   IDGV78 — 00:07:44
3: BennyThe Boozehound   no ID
4: don Berithos   IDUS82 — 00:08:14
5: Ipan Tatsu and Duana Starflare  ID565 — 00:10:10

Yes, Joro out front... again

Race 4:
1: don Berithos   IDUS82 — 00:08:01
2: Ipan Tatsu   ID565 — 00:09:08 DSQ
3: joro Aya   IDSLUT — 00:11:44
4: Gemma Vuckovic   IDGV78 — DNF

Race 5:
1: joro Aya   IDSLUT — 00:07:20
2: Gemma Vuckovic   IDGV78 — 00:07:36
3: don Berithos   IDUS82 — 00:07:44
4: Ipan Tatsu   ID565 — DNS

For such a small event, Tiny World ended up pretty wondrous. 🙂 On Saturday TrYC was chock-full of happy, funny people who were dancing, sailing, and cruising their weekend away. So Please give a huge, much deserved hug and sound loud applause to the great team that put it all together: Chaos, Charlz, Fiona, Orca, and Kittensusie. WOOTS!


I don’t know about you, but my personal criterion for a ‘Regatta well done‘ is pretty simple. A sailing event is a success if somebody comes up and says: “Hey, that was fun; let’s do it again tomorrow!” 🙂

Chaos in younger days

Well… the day after Tiny World, that happened big-time.

On April 17, a rather huge fleet of sailors descended once again on the Triumphal race waters for a Sunday Leeward Cruise. This time however, Kittensusie Landar and Francois Jacques set the destination to Chaos Mandelbrot’s home dock at Wicked Good. 🙂

A truly sim-busting crowd made landfall there, and all joined-in once again, thanking that Penguin for a Tiny jobbut a job done HUGE! 🙂

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Fruit Islands Expands Sail Race Training

by Elbag Gable
(edit: Jane Fossett)

Muskmelon Race Training Centre

Fruit Islands Estate and Mango Yacht Club are pleased to announce the opening of a new Centre for Sailing, Racing, and Match Training in Muskmelon Sim.

The expanded teaching area and resources will hopefully cater to the increasing requests from sailors looking for ways to gain advanced sailing skills.

The Muskmelon Centre builds on our Sail Training School located in Strawberry.

Strawberry will focus on basic sailing instruction and as well as a set of select, more advanced topics.

We are all very excited at the prospect of a new centre that can help build sailing knowledge and skill in SL, and we hope it might play an important role building future standards for SL racing. However, our most important goal is really to  get sailors on  the water, having fun.

Both the Strawberry and Muskmelon locations have a relaxed style and approach, and we encourage sailors at any level to come visit when they have a free moment. Visitors will find a large number of self-study slideshows on different topics, covering multiple boats. The centres will also hold regular group classes and topic-specific meetings to review and practice tactics, logistics and race rules.

LdeWell Hawker had a central role developing the new facility, the racelines, and the teaching program, building on the huge effort started by Isis Rexie. Hawk will run classroom-based training courses and in-water instruction on Fruit Islands’ designated 8 sim L-shaped Race Training area. There are FOUR separate racelines installed in that area, and each sim has a WWC windsetter installed. There will always be default wind available in case you lose your puff!

We hope that many experienced SL sailors will take a look and test out the new waters, and we’d love their assistance and input as we develop courses, teaching, and plan events. You can contact any of us listed below.

We will be catering to all classes of boats and we’re already allocating time and resources to the T-One ONE WORLD event this January (Fruit Islands will host “ROUND TWO” again. Last year, Mango’s Commodore Isis Rexie finished a FULL THREE MINUTES ahead of the second-place boat… in a field of Fifteen crack race teams). (Editorial note: Liv and Momomos helped a bit 🙂 )

This year Mango believes T-ONE is a boat made for Fruit Island waters… Come  give it a try, and see if you agree 🙂 !

Although we always have a big smile in Fruit’s tropical island setting, we admit we’re pretty serious about teaching. You want to learn racing tactics? Hawk ‘s set up a great program that uses Qyv Inshan’s Quest Match boats, fueled by Becca’s BWind engine. No matter what boat you eventually plan to race, we think a few hours playing at Mango with Hawk’s recommendations can put you into overdrive on the race circuit.

Come visit and rez a boat anywhere in Fruit Island’s 100+ sims of water, and please let us know if we missed anything or can do something that will promote sailing and get you laughing on Second Life’s waters.

Elbag Gable
Brenda Hoisin
LDeWell Hawker
Qyv Inshan
Isis Rexie
Equinox Pinion
Dennis Lagan

Sailing Straight: Two Boats With a Lee Helm

Not too long ago I wrote excitedly about two new, free Tako-based boats: the BBK 137 and Nemo Nantucket. The boats differ in both their concept and construction, and I thought it was pretty fantastic that Kanker’s original ideas might live on in the creativity and enthusiasm of a new generation of boatbuilders.

While testing out those boats, I noticed that Nemo had a “Lee Helm.” It’s a small point, but this issue comes up in real life too and it may partly explain some of Nemo’s behavior, so I thought I’d mention it here.

First, to introduce the topic, let’s talk about helm ‘balance!

A Balanced Helm

JG-44 30R holds a course

When they try out a new boat in real life, many sailors will check how “balanced” the boast’s helm feels on different points of sail. After all, as Ben Franklin said, “A helm unbalanced is not worth sailing.” (or maybe that was Socrates… 🙂 )

Anywayz, a well-designed and well-rigged boat should feel at home on all major points of sail; if you set a heading of 40°, the boat should ‘dig-in’ and hold that course without much complaining.

Quite often however, boats end up unbalanced and consistently drift off course. The most common example of this is called a weather helm, where a boat sailing upwind continually wants to head higher into the wind; it tries to “sail to weather”.  A  skipper needs to constantly apply leeward pressure to the wheel or tiller to hold a ‘weather helm’ boat on a constant compass course. This is only a small irritation on leisurely weekend cruises, of course, but it can become a real pain in races when strong foul weather gusts dramatically amplify the forces on the boat. I’ve sailed races where I had to give up the helm because I didn’t weigh enough to control the boat; the weather forces transmitted to the helm kept lifting me in the air while I tried to hold the boat on course.

Luckily, most boats in SL are nicely balanced. You can set a compass heading, raise sail and let go of the wheel; the boat will faithfully hold it’s course. That’s good news, since most skippers end up busy enough sheeting to the apparent wind changes, switching the sails, reefing, and much, much more.

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To illustrate this, I’ve added some images above from an Oceanis 160 on a beam reach; the Oceanis 160 is a good example of a BWIND boat with nice balance.  It’s also an easy boat to test, since it has multiple, detailed displays.

Using wind from the North at 15 kn, the first image in the figure above shows the boat heading directly East at a bare 1.63 kn.

JG-44 on beam reach; Wind dial shows AWA adjustment

That results in a real wind angle (RWA)= 90° and an apparent wind angle (AWA)= 84°, as shown. If you then trim the sails without touching the helm or changing course, the boat picks up speed and the  apparent wind direction appropriately shifts toward the bow (AWA= 55° in the middle frame above). After many minutes of sailing without changing the original heading, you can then drop sail and confidently find yourself on the exact compass course you originally set. Oceanis 160 uses BWIND brains for helm balance,  and the boat holds its own, sailing straight as an arrow… quite nicely, in fact.

Good balance is, of course, not a trait exclusive to BWIND or Oceanis.

I’m gradually going through the whole list of popular sailing vessels in  SL, and every boat so far in the Trudeau Fleet  and Juli Designs’ lineup shows a “straight-down-the-line balance.” If you set a course and take your hands off the wheel in these boats, they remain compass-true.

By the way, you can also add the Wildwind Fleet to the ‘balanced boat bunch’ too; I ran my JMO-60 through it’s paces, and got no more than a 2° fluctuation in heading while sailing a fixed course for three minutes. 

Two For the Lee Road

Ok, so my point above is that the large majority of sailboats in Second Life have what might be called ‘a balanced helm.‘ You can set a compass course and take your hands off the wheel;  your boat will sail true.

 This may seem like a small point, and you might even think it’s a pretty obvious one.  However, I’m bringing it up  here because there are two popular boats, the Tako 3.3 and the Nemo-N/R, that appear off-balance and seem to have a ‘Lee helm;’ If you set a course heading, these boats won’t sail a straight line; they sail an arc that gradually turns the boat away from the source of the wind. A skipper needs to invest extra time and tiller touch-ups to stay on tack.

Let me show you what I mean :

In the figure below I set my Tako on a beam reach (RWA=  89°) with a compass heading of  270°.  After sailing for nearly 4 minutes without touching the tiller or changing the heading, the boat had spontaneously turned 11° away from the wind.

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Is an 11° deviance in four minutes a lot?  That’s for you to judge and it certainly depends on the context, but let me make these comments in that regard:

  • Columbus, Magellan and Cook would still be sailing slow circles in European harbors if they were even 1/1,000 so inaccurate 🙂 ;
  • Any Tako racer knows that even a 2° difference on close haul, say from 34°-36°, can have an enormous impact on boat performance;
  • None of the other boats mentioned above showed any helm preference, so it’s not an ‘artifact’ of the sims or system; and
  • Although a beam reach is a “special” point-of-sail for the Tako (the spinnaker inflates on that heading), the downwind drift appears to happen at all points of sail; its intrinsic to the boat and its power algorithm, not to any specific heading.

Behavioral Genetics

The recently-released Nemo-N/R has a similar Lee Helm propensity.

The figure below shows a series of six sequential Nemo images, while sailing a fixed course with the default 15 kn wind.

If you look at the circular guage, you can see the blue indicator shows the boat starting on a beam reach, with an approximate wind heading of 90°.

 As the boat picks up speed, look carefully at the next four frames. Even with a boat speed of 7.0 kn ( half the true wind), the blue indicator for wind angle stays locked at just about 90°.

 That looks like the Real Wind heading, not “Apparent Wind.”  Two weeks ago I concluded that Nemo’s sailing engine must be using a ‘Real Wind’ algorithm. Nomad Zamani (the boat’s  scripter) corrected me, however, revealing that the boat did use apparent wind, albeit an attenuated version of it (Apparent Wind Lite?).  I was sort of ‘flummoxed’ with that info, since I couldn’t show any upwind velocity-based angular wind swing toward the bow in Nemo (the definition of ‘Apparent Wind’).

It turns out Nemo’s Lee Helm may explain why ( at least in part).  

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Take a look at the orange arrows in each of the frames above.  They indicated a fixed reference, the clock over the raceline in Farragut. When the boat’s at rest in the first image of the sequence, the bow is pointing slightly starboard of the clock. In each of the following frames, however, the boat’s heading falls further leeward and further to the port side of that heading relative to the clock.

That may explain the Apparent Wind confusion in the prior Nemo discussions; I didn’t appreciate Nemo couldn’t hold a heading. One reason Apparent Wind doesnt show the typical shift toward the bow in Nemo seems to be that Nemo wants to turn away from the wind; it’s heading spontaneously rotates downwind. The size of that angular fall-off is roughly equal to the maximum adjusted wind angle change (AWA) in the boat.

If you’re confused by this, so am I :-), I’m still looking at it, and I’m posting here to get more input and ideas. Hey, but don’t worry :-), the ‘Trouble with Nemo’ seems similar to what happens in the Tako, and that can’t be too bad. We all know that little unruly Tako showed it had the right stuff.

It proved to be the inspiration that lit the fuse for everything else in SL Sailing over the past four years.

So, that lee helm thing? It’s not a defect, it’s not a flaw…

It’s just personality!

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.

Oceanis 160: A Star Is Born

Thursday night Svar Beckersted and Sallysue Cahill showed up in Farragut for a surprise visit at racetime. They haven’t been around much in SL for the past few months, so it was a true delight to see them. My first reaction was to give them a ride on a more modern race boat than what they remembered or, perhaps, were used to… I rezzed an Oceanis 160!
The Oceanis 160 is a modern-design, double-masted 48 m schooner crafted by  Metkenan Metty and Emmanuelle Loire of Star Bay Yachts.
The boat is truly majestic in size, remarkably detailed, and it has an expansive, furnished cabin below. With the boat fully rezzed at dockside Oceanis weighs in at 517 prim, but don’t be afraid of that number; this boat has everything. A skipper can live and sail through Second Life aboard Oceanis without compromise… and take their best half-dozen friends along for the ride.
If 517 prim seems like a lot, let me mention that you can get by with fewer than half that total number of prim options, and at that smaller size, Oceanis has the same resource footprint as a Trudeau Larinda. But why cut back on the prim? Oceanis is not just another pretty face, and beneath its sleek exterior this boat is a tough, practical workhorse fueled by a Becca Moulliez engine. With Becca’s BWind under the floorboards, Metkenan Metty’s design is uncompromising, and built to survive rough ocean passages full of treacherous sim crossings. Even with a half-dozen crew aboard, this boat proved dauntless on the high seas and was virtually bulletproof in pre-release trials.  


As I mentioned above, on first view the Oceanis 160 is a knock-out. My biggest problem sailing this boat is the crowd that forms every time I launch it. I was even hit by two airplanes last week as they swooped low to catch a better glimpse! Oceanis is one the largest and most detailed sailing vessels in Second Life, measuring 48 m in length and nearly 10 m on beam. The two masts soar 52 m above the water line, towering high above every other wind-powered vessel. The keel is thankfully a bit more modest, drawing 3.6m, a depth that’s comparable to J-Class and Columbia.
The hull, topsides and sails are all ‘no-mod,’ but the color pattern is easily adjusted by use of a HUD. However, the boat is so thoughtfully crafted, it’s rather hard to imagine what an owner might want to add to the exterior or rigging.

 Living aboard Oceanis 

Fully rezzed, Oceanis takes up 517 prim, but that amount of ballast is carefully distributed over three components.
 The first is the boat’s vehicle component, the part that actually drives the boat. It accounts for a spare 24 prim of the total size. That anorexic number makes room available for multiple crewmembers. Last week we sailed a test boat with a crew of six, and I regularly (and easily) sail this boat with three or four aboard.  You have the friends? Oceanis has the room.
As shown below,  the Oceanis also uses two “attachment” components that are worn by the skipper.  The first attachment includes the hull and essential rigging, and it adds an additional 242 prim to the boat total. The second attachment consists of the inside cabin space and furnishings. That part is modifiable, allowing each owner to personalize the boat  according to their needs and interests.
Since we are on the topic, Let me say a word about attachments… 
Before this boat and the Trudeau Columbia, I admit I never liked “attachable” boats. I mean, enveloping yourself in a phantom hull often seemed more like a Hollywood stunt than a serious sailing emulation, and, frankly… having a house-sized boat attached to your pelvis can often prove “socially awkward” in SL.
If you share some of those attachable concerns, don’t worry!  The most recent SL boats like Oceanis integrate sculpties, attachments, and scripted vehicles in ways that  prove seamless, realistic, and quite remarkable. I’ll tell you more about that in the next section, but let me first give you a “walk through” down below… I think you’ll get the idea. 🙂
 Geez, the simple act of walking around a boat supposedly “attached to your pelvis” probably makes my point, so go ahead, stand up on this boat!  You’ll find a gangway with swinging doors behind the aft mast;  it leads down to the cabin quarters below.  In the main compartment, you’ll find a rather incredible amount of space unmatched by any sailing vessel I know of.  The furnishings are appropriate and impressive, and the living space is complimented by wide seascape windows on either side. The living space is so well done, you might forget the most key feature:   “This boat actually SAILS.” 

If you’re hunting for a live-aboard schooner (and who isn’t?) , Oceanis has so much room below you may never want to live ashore again! 


 As you move further forward in the cabin space, you’ll find bunk beds, a shower, and a computer station.  (Just keep repeating the mantra :” This boat sails.”) 

Please don’t stop there,  however;  keep going, because next in line, you enter the Master Cabin at the bow.  It contains a large scripted bed, and…

OK, I admit I’m having an anxiety attack here… in three years of writing about boats, discussing detailed features, and arguing for serious sailing emulations… I have never used the following words, but now I’m facing the undeniable truth before me and I can’t hold back.
So stop, go get a Valium, and get me one too please, because…
Dorothy, we’re not in Kansas anymore,
and you can put that Tako away now… because…. the Master cabin has a hot tub!”      

 Well; there, I said it…  🙂
But it’s okay, calm down. Remember: THIS BOAT SAILS

 Sailing Oceanis.  

Frankly, if anyone wrote an article about a new sailing boat and mentioned it was 517 prim with a hot tub, I would probably laugh at the painful joke and I’d go read something else.
I know Metkenan Metty’s  boats well; they are absolutely, breathtakingly beautiful,  but they they usually cannot leave the dock,  they are  so full of artisanship and complexity. I expected Oceanis would be similar, and I didn’t take a project like the ‘sailable Oceanis’ seriously. I thought something as big and detailed as this boat could never survive the usual treacherous sim crossings we all deal with in SL.
I think nearly all the SL skippers reading this know what I’m talking about. I was pretty sure when Oceanis hit it’s first sim crossing the skipper would lose control, most of the prim would end up 50m astern, and all the crew would fall so far overboard they’d re-rez on OS-Grid and never come back.
Well, I was wrong.

Oceanis gets BWind Brain

Undaunted over these issues, Emmanuelle Loire made Blackbird Latte a chief beta tester on Oceanis. If you know BB, you know he is obsessive, relentless, and pretty uncompromising ( 🙂 Hey, those are compliments, BB!). 

As you might anticipate, BB badly trashed the first Oceanis sailing betas… but that’s what betas are for, and Star Bay listened. Star Bay made a bold move, transplanting the BWind engine into Oceanis, and suddenly the fog cleared and the sun came out.
Becca Moulliez’s BWind engine is a tako-based, low-lag wonder. It  is easy to sail, adroitly juggles limited resources, and holds true to real life apparent wind force conversions. Major features of Becca’s design are rapidly appearing in a series of racing and cruising vessels from boatwrights across the grid. 
Oceanis is pretty unique, however. BWind and Star Bay together combine brilliance in scripting with a relentless attention to design detail, and that combo is a perfect match-up in Oceanis. It is sort of  like roast beef and rye,  Bacall and Bogart, or Bush and Cheney  (well… cough… scratch that last  analogy).

The attention to detail in Oceanis and its sailing performance are notable from the initial Rez: although the boat is very large and made of three sections, a single command is enough to drop the entire vessel in the water.  There is no need to go through a ritual where you rez a vehicle and then wear different parts.  It’s more like launching a RL boat, and the perception may be entirely different from what you are used to in SL. When you stand up, once again the ‘attachments’ automatically fall away and the whole boat rerezzes as a stand-alone structure.
Let’s take that one step further, OK?
With attachments and sculpties, it’s common to have phantom hulls and a ‘mismatch’ between what you see and the actual ‘collision mesh’  framework of your boat.  That can prove pretty frustrating for a skilled sailor who is trying to cut corners on a racetrack.  Oceanis gets these details right, however. Take a look at the picture below; I just stood up from the helm and my sneakers are standing on the aft deck; the boat’s solid. Even more remarkable, look at the Linden navigation buoy. It’s tilted on its side, resting against the hull’s starboard fore quarter.
Woots; the alignment is pretty exact. Although I will spare you the images, let me comment that I have slammed the bow and stern of this boat into many docks, boats, and even the linden ferry while testing it out.  This is as good as it gets, and it’s amazingly close to the real thing. “The boat you see is the boat that sails,”  and any serious sailor in SL knows that is no easy accomplishment.


Instrument displays and Trim Control. 

Oceanis has three separate info displays for racing or cruising ( that’s right, I said “three”).
It has a numerical HUD that indicates sail angle and wind heading.  This is visible to all crew members. By typing “HUD” a sailor can  toggle between a simple and more complete list of details.
The second HUD is indicated on the lower left of the figure below. It gives a skipper a host of options concerning camera angle and boat appearance; it also includes a very nice ‘compass graphic’ and an in-your-face display of the boat speed.
If you use the optional ‘driving’ camera position, it puts you in front of the numerical display, but no worries! As shown below, there are working instrument displays at each wheel, and a traditional compass and horn centrally located (yellow arrow below).
The boat uses apparent wind, and trimming the sails with the BWind system is simple and precise with the “UP” and “DOWN” keyboard arrows. The HUD changes color to warn the skipper when the sails fall out of tune.
The chart below shows a graph of Oceanis boatspeed (SOG) as a function of the real wind angle (RWA), using the boat’s default 15 knot wind.
  The boat luffs at 30°RWA, but as the heading falls off the sails fill and the boat does 40% of real wind speed at 40°RWA.  Peak boat speed is nearly equal to the real wind, and occurs around 60° RWA; after that there is a slow, linear decay with progressive downwind angles, and a sharper drop when the boat’s on a dead run.
The shape of the Oceanis performance curve  is less ‘boxy’ than other BWind and Wildwind boats I’ve recently tested. It actually looks quite similar to the wind response of Trudeau boats, so many sailors will find it familiar and easy to handle.     

Experienced sailors already know that the interconnected waterways in Second Life are expanding at a fairly breathtaking rate, and the opportunities for extended cruises, explorations of exotic far-off continents, and even flat-out extreme, global grid-challenges grow daily. Oceanis 160 is ready. 

It is a unique and truly remarkable vessel that sets a new high standard for features, quality, and sailing performance. Oceanis will boldly bring you across SL’s distance sailing competitions in 2010… and you’ll be grinning the entire way, and leading the pack when you make landfall.