Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Virtual Laser Radial

It's time for some real radical virtual Laser Radial sailing. Woohoo. Rise and shine. Yeah! A Laser is the essence of fun watersports. It is simple, fast and fun, and now it is also an Olympic class. Well, in 2012 that is. Besides, it's a radial, so it's just the right size for me.
Just waking up
But let's start with the beginning. I had a good nights sleep. Woke up early. At sunset. Must be those gulls. The water was quiet, and I enjoyed a coffee while watching the sun come up. Obviously, I found the tent. About at tent, - if you wanna get the story from the beginning, then start here: Beginning. You're back? Good.
Ready for action
It's a beautiful day. Good steady wind from the east, - or that's what I thought. More on that in a minute. Pretty quiet water, almost clear blue sky. What's there to say? Let's get out there.
Lift off
The boat looks pretty much like a laser. The sail does too. There are small details missing but the overall impression is pretty Laser-ish. I mean, look at the picture above. If I didn't know better, I'd think it was real. I'd like it to be. The concept of camping on a small island with nothing to do but Laser sailing makes my heart beat faster. Add a few friends, a campfire and a guitar and... well that's it, right?
Sail away
First, the good things. It is easily sailed. There is no onboard compass or wind vane, but there is a small hud  with that information. It works well. Sailing the Laser requires steering, trimming and balancing. Steering and trimming adhere to the (pretty much) standard way of doing things: What makes the Laser Radial stand out is the balancing. The Laser has three different hiking positions.
The wind was very strange, - or so I thought. Turns out the Laser Radial uses SL wind by default. SL wind was - obviously - designed by landlubbers. Not meant for sailboats, windmills, kites, surfers or anything usefull. It goes around and around like 360 degrees in a few minutes. 
I like...
Luckily there was a notecard in the boat, telling me how to switch to WWC wind; Ahh, that's better. Now the wind is stable, but not too stable. It's much better, but there is always a but. It seems the Laser Radial is not entirely WWC compliant. It only uses the wind part. That's really too bad. There is no pitching or rolling caused by waves. There is no current, there is no winddrift, and there is no windshadowing. Not really suited for racing I guess.
WWC, Wind, Waves and Current
Sadly, the laser moves pretty much like a Tako, - like a dead duck on a leach.Ok, that's maybe a bit harsh; The Laser Radial isn't a Tako. It is far better and more interesting; Reading the notecard again, the builder positions the Laser Radial as an intermediate boat. Much more advanced than a Tako; Much easier than a Flying Fizz with the dreaded capsize. Maybe that's true, but I'd definately want my Laser to capsize, when I make mistakes. 
Lovely sailing
Another thing... the sails are flat as pancakes. This might not be a problem to non sailors, but if you've ever looked up a real sail to check the shape... flat sails just won't work for you. Check this to see the difference. Being a bit geeky here, but flat sails... I mean, they'd work on a run, but upwind... they need that wing-shape.
Flat sails
There are no sounds either. At all. No sails flapping. No wake, no winchblocks, just complete silence. This kinda breaks the bubble too. The simulation simply has to have sound. Sounds add to realism, but even more importantly the feedback from the sound indicates speed. This adds to the feel, and it reduces the need for instruments. Who would sail a Laser by looking at a panel full of digits?
Let's call it a day
All in all, I was a bit disappointed by the Laser; I don't think I will sail it much, but... it has potential, so I'll write to Santa and wish for an upgrade. If you're new to sailing, the Laser might be a good choice. If you know sailing, then you'd be much better of with a Flying Fizz. Let me just get this thing back up on land and then I'll pack my stuff here; Get back to Tradewinds.


  1. Clicking on all of these "fotos" shows me you have hiking positions on the Laser nailed down! On the Radial: I wish Lasers with shortened masts would have been around when my kids were learning to sail. Anyways, great post!

  2. Thanx Doc, - I had fun writing it; The Radial is maybe still a bit big for kids. I don't think I could have handled a Laser Radial at the age of nine.


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