Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The M24 rocket in action

It has always been a great tactic to start first and then continuously increase the gap. It is so much easier to win, when you can freely pick your own optimal route to the next mark. However, this time it was just a little different.
The M24 pocket rocket
I had the experience of sailing with Ronin in the beautiful Melges 24 from Qyv. A truly unreal experience. Don't get me wrong. The skipper was nice and in a good mood. The boat was (is) nice too, but the setup somehow just didn't work for me. It was one of these popular strong wind races...
30 knots in the Blake
Dunno why strong wind sailing is so popular. Gusts approaching thirty knots really should keep people inside with a hot chocolate and a hot date in front of the fireplace. Few average Joes would race in 25 knots of wind; Maybe it is just me... I've had my share of strong wind sailing. Dinghies and keelers. Gear break down. People get hurt. Not pretty. Just imagine a hand pulled through a Harken ratchet block. Twenty knots  of wind on a 40 footer and people begin to get hurt.
Looks like 5 m/sec from east on a summer afternoon
The virtual sailing experience breaks down under extreme conditions. There is no seaspray, no waves, no excessive heeling, no broaching, no capsize, no luffing main, no indication - what so ever - that the boat is totally over powered. It is unreal. Two people keeping the M24 upright in 25 knots gusts? Duh! Logging 23 knots downwind can be done in a Melges 24, but 15 knots upwind? That's way over hull speed. Not gonna happen. We even outran a handfull of ACAs. As if in another world. In strong winds the virtual Melges 24 is an overly speedy boat. It simply fails to produce a boatly reaction  to the strong wind. It was not designed to do so.
Another World 
Sailing at high speeds fits badly in the virtual world. It is not just the fact that sim crossings get worse at high speeds. At 23 knots you've crossed the virtual ocean in like two minutes. Tactics and windshifts? Forget those. You can sail on any tack in around 25 seconds and you are out of bounds. Windshifts can barely be read or used. The scenery has problems updating at that speed. Other boats appear on the horizon and within seconds they are in the rear mirror. Nah, - the experience is something else. It does not remind me much of sailing.
The M24 doing 15 knots upwind
The virtual Melges 24 itself is perfectly capable of providing a decent sailing experience. The boat is rather true to the real thing. Beautifully build. Good looking sails and a few other nice details. However, these pictures of hefty wind sailing look just  like a beautiful afternoon lake sailing in 10 knots wind. I look forward to sailing the virtual Melges 24 in a more realistic setup;
Hard work in foul weather
The M24 - somehow - bears resemblance to the beautiful Q2m, and - no big surprise - it also reminds me of the Q2.4mR. The M24 is more fun though. It has a bow spirit and a gennaker. Crewed racing is also more fun, because it has balance. I needed to move my lil self around and do my thing: Fight the pressure of those howling wind and  the roaring waves of the Blake Sea. It sure looks like hard work, right?

Incidentally we won at least one race; We totally outpaced those of ACAs. Like tiny apples beating huge oranges in a discipline neither was built for. Now, I'd love to try the virtual Melges 24 in a 12 knot class boat race, but this racing.experience? To me it was simply uninteresting.


  1. Yes, Noodly, SL sailing is everything but realistic. Doesn't matter since SL isn't even supposed to be a simulation; it's a game. And imagine how boring the sailing game would become if the boats were moving with realistic "speed".

    Well, LL could maybe implement some more realistic water, with real waves which are able to knock a boat over and enable you to surf in. Then we can talk about realistic boat speeds. But anyway, as long as even our biggest ocean in SL is hardly the size of your typical RL fish pond where are those waves supposed to be generated?

    1. SL can be many things. You call it a game. I call sailing a game. Perfect match. SL can - with care - be used to create a pretty good sailing simulation with a salty taste and lots of tactics. Virtual strong wind racing can be fun, but it offers very few of the elements known from sailboat racing.

  2. Truthfully I had hoped that people/RDs would knock the wind speeds down a notch or 3 because the boat is so fast. It really sails best in 8 to 15 knot wind speeds. In those speeds crew is not strictly necessary but nice to have along to help out. And of course always to have a friend along anyway :)
    As for the speed curve, this is as close as I could make it to the RL polar graph you yourself gave Noodles :) I based it on the 8 knots set of numbers.

    1. It's a fine boat. Absolutely. The speedcurve is good; 23 knots downwind is possible, but 15 knots upwind is maybe a little too good; The polar doesn't scale linearly, but nevermind that. The boat is overpowered around 12 knots of wind, so 22 or 30 makes no sense.

  3. If i recall the wind was 22 knots, a windspeed almost always set by RDs at Atlantic line. And yes the boat is fast. But even in a 15 knot wind its still fast. And perhaps the skippers tactic of staying upwind from bigboats shadows and being mindfull of position throughout the race had no bearing on results at all, nor i supose did sailing on optimum VGM make much difference either. As far as realism of sl sailing versus rl sailing, i reckon that argument will go on forever. Is sl sailing all that realistic, or is beating a fleet of ACA's and IACC's in a melges all that realistic? Probably not. But it sure is a lot of fun.

    1. Ronin, we surely would have lost without you at the tiller, but.. SL can provide a much more interesting and complex sailboat racing experience than this.

  4. My sailboat racing days in SL are long gone, but as always I am with Noodles on this. Also simply for the reason that it simply looks so ridiculous to me when for example sailing one of my ply/epoxy classy Multihulls in fresh winds and I nearly get outperformed by 30 ft heavy monohull cabin cruisers or by small gaff rigged keelers.




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