Monday, December 31, 2012

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all friends, sailors, boatbuilders, commodores, club managers, racers, cruisers, bloggers and everybody else, virtual and unvirtual, digital and analog - and a happy New Year with lots of love and good sailing.

Late Christmas update: Go get a Glögg at Mid-Atlantic Musings, and - when you've had a strong Glögg, scroll down and see the Christmas decorated boats. You won't believe your eyes...

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Nacra 17, racing tips

It happens on friday the 21st: The very first virtual Nacra 17 race. Virtual sailing for cat nutters. It's in Tschotcke at 2pm SLT, that's around 2300CET, and the sweet and lovely Scubabear (ask for a bear hug) will be your RD. It's gonna be a blast...
Inshore cat on the loose
Loads of boats with untrained crews and a weather forecast that says 21 knots from the south east! Wanna bet how many capsizes we will see? I'd say a handfull. Maybe more. Racing a cat like the Nacra 17 in 21 knots of wind is all about finding that sweet-spot just before the boat is overpowered.
Looking for the sweet spot means continuously powering up until it is just a bit too much, then powering down a bit. Miss that last bit and you are fish food. Forget tactics; Being faster is key. Find that sweet-spot, and you're on your way to the  podium. Don't waste energy looking for windshifts. Find the speed. The Nacra does not support windshifts anyway.

When you've found the speed, be aware that there is a slight lee helm to compensate for. The lee helm makes it difficult to stay on optimum trim and direction. It also makes it much harder to see headers and lifts, so better stay alert there...
Looking for that sweet spot
There's other stuff to learn too. Timing. The Nacra 17 is so much faster than a dinghy. The starting tactics is much different from the usual approach. Timing is crucial in order to hit the line right at the gun. Trust me. With these boats you don't wanna be late for start.

On a downwind leg you'll need to pay close attention to the polar. Genakker sailing will enable planing on one hull. Once you get up there, you can send a smile to the rest of the pack. Via the rear mirror.
Have a break, have a...
Another thing to look out for is the tacking and gybing. Cats are way slower at turning; However, it seems that Dutch (the builder) has cheated a bit here. The Nacra turns pretty much like a monohull. Slam and you're over. Hopefully, there will be an update to fix this. And the lee helm.
... Nacra cat
Still, too many tacks will set you back. If not because of the turning, then because of the balance. Getting the balance right, right after a tack also requires timing. In 21 knots of wind two people need to unhook the trapeze, run or crawl over to the other side, hook up and get out at just the right time, when the wind hits the sails. Better hurry out there and do a few tacks...

Update: Orca posted a handfull of nice shots from the event...

Friday, December 14, 2012

Nacra 17, Olympic Class

Today is Nacra 17 day. Woohoo. There's a virtual Nacra 17 out. Not only is it an Olympic class,  it's also a  absolute beauty, very true to the original and, - it's a total blast to sail. Here it is, me in trapeze, Dutch Kain, the builder, at the stick:
Nacra 17: Perfect for sunset sailing
I've been waiting for this for some time now, and I am so happy it is finally here. It's not that I am a total cat-nutter, but this cat here, - it's truly gorgeous. Besides, under certain conditions cats can be fun to sail. Perhaps it is just too cold for cats where I live my real life. Dunno. In any case, diversity is good.
A cat for dog-lovers
This cat here would make any dog-lover convert. In fact, I'm pretty sure it will make most singlehull sailors go: "Wauw, I simply gotta try that". The best thing though, unlike certain other cats, this one is affordable and sailable for ordinary people with a normal biceps and budget.
Cat sailing is bikini sailing
It comes fully equipped with main, jib and genakker, bow spirit, curved daggerboards, trapez gear and what nuts cat stuff; It is dead-easy to sail and fast: Action guaranteed! Whether it is dead easy to sail optimally is another story; When we get the virtual Nacra 17 racing class going, we will see about that.
While we're almost sailing naked, the Nacra 17 has lotsa clothes to put on. So let's see her wearing that big evening dress aka the genakker; Boom! She takes off like a rocket. This is not really an evening dress... if anything it's more of an outfit for speed-dating, hehe. Perhaps the colour could be a little more on the naughty side. Why not smashing pink? These days white sails are mostly for classic beauties, right?
The boat is built with love and great attention to details. There are a few missing things, though. It's the usual suspects: The Windvane, the compass and the telltails. However, the information is available on a hud. Problem solved, - though I don't line sailing by numbers. There is also a refreshingly easy to understand hud for moving, trimming and hoisting sails.
Details, details details
The picture right above here shows the details of the trapez-lines. On the other side of the sail it appears as if the trapez is hooked right onto my bikini top, and it is. That might just be the sailing gear of the future! I've always thought those trapeze harnesses looked silly. I hereby claim copyright on the kevlar enforced bikini top with built in trapeze hook. I call it: The Brateze (c).
Mouselook sailing
Here's a shot of what I see from the trapez. That's why mouselook sailing is important. It makes you feel like you're onboard a real boat. You can look in any direction by moving the mouse. Just as you would in RL. Continuously check to windward for shifts and waves, then check the telltails, the windvane and the compass. 1, 2, 3, 4. That's the easiest recipy for winning. Four simple repeated steps.
Topless sailing requires tropical conditions
Oh, and check your trapeze hook too. It's very important. On the image above, Dutch just unwillingly "left" the boat. Just to annoy him I dropped my top and sailed on. Left him swimming the blue soup for a few minutes before I returned, top back on, to pick him up, teehee. 
A bit of relaxing...
Well, that's about it for todays episode of "Unexpected Fun With Cats". If you're a cat-person, then do check my adventure with the Hepcat. I'd better talk to Dutch about setting up a line of gadgets and accessories for this baby, including my brand new invention, the combined Bra and Trapeze, the Brateze (c). I kinda like that word, hehe.
Brateze (c): Using the bikini top as the trapeze harness
I'll be back with details on the sailing characteristics, if I can find the time. Very briefly: The Nacra 17 has a derived BWind sailing engine of sorts. It is great fun to sail, while it still lacks telltales, vane, currents, waves and shifts; Right now my compass points towards tree, gifts, cleaning, food, Christmas cards. Phew. Busy times ahead. Have a great weekend all you cat-people...

See the real Nacra 17 here.

Update: Jane's posted a few details on the sailing characteristics.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Explore & Rescue Show

There's the Fizz Cup, the brand new virtual Nacra 17, the updated Ktaba 20 and so much more exciting stuff going on right now, when I really need to get back to RL and get ready for Xmas. However, there is also a fantastic Explore and Rescue Show at Tradewinds...
The Explore & Rescure Show
Here's me near the lighthouse, where there's a board helping you to navigate all the different Search and Rescue boats. There's also Harbourmaster Ahab's latest toy. In the back there's a pretty big coastguard vessel. Probably the biggest Coastguard vessel I've seen inworld.
Smaller coastguard
Here's a smaller Coastguard vessel. It is just arriving, finding it's place by the piers. I think it had Colin Nemeth behind the wheel. Too big for ya? You want ribs?
Ribs with guns
You name it, we got it :-) Here's a couple of ribs. There's even one with guns. I hope it is armoured like those bulletproof vests, or else it isn't much of a combat vessel. One hit anywhere, and you'd be "out of air".
Onboard rib bay
This one I kinda like. It's a true mothership with a rib in an onboard bay. The amount of details in these boats is simply amazing. I wouldn't be surprised if it's actually able to launch that rib.
A small yellow submarine
No rescue op without a sub. Here's one. It kinda reminds me of those minisubs used by Jacques Cousteau on his amazing voyages with the Callypso
An even smaller yellow submarine
Right across the pier is another one; Single seater. Kinda cute. These two here are yellow, Cousteau's sub was yellow, and in a few pictures down there's another yellow minisub. How come? Why must minisubs be yellow? It can't be because of that song, Yellow Submarine, can it?
Look down
Here's another strange vessel. It like a floating crane with a platform on the side for exploring the underwater world, and sure enough, there is a sunken boat down there. Wanna see it?
Sunken boat
Looks kinda new. Not like the sunken sub that is to be found elsewhere around Tradewinds. I won't tell where. There's gotta be something left to explore.
More coasties
Over on the west side of Tradewinds there are even more coasties. They seem to come in all kinds of shapes and colours. Here's three of them; The one in the back has a helipad with a helicopter just like the one seen in the air on the first picture.
Yet another yellow submarine
Then there's the Scuba Bear boat with yet another yellow submarine. Check it out and beware of the bear. He's on the bridge. Next to the Scuba Bear is this amazing vessel:
Amazing explorer vessel
This one has it all: Moonbuggy, helipad with helicopter, powerful rib, a crane pluse loads of space below deck; There's even another helicopter on board, hidden inside. It's not unlike the one I flew almost a year ago. There's also a Christmas Quest... Go see what it is...
View from a bridge
Finally there's a view over Tradewinds from the bridge of that big coastguard vessel. It's pretty obvious that there's loads of boats to see, and I haven't even mentioned there's an entire area dedicated to planes and helicopters. Nuff said; Go see for yourself... I'll go sail the virtual Nacra 17.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A blast from the future

I've seen this lil thingy sitting on the sand dunes of TYC almost a month ago. Today I tried it. Weeeeee! It was only a short sail, but I can say this: It's not the worst thing I ever sailed. In fact, even those few minutes on board, made me smile ear to ear...
This is so refreshingly different, absolutely brand new and hot, - and sooo much fun. Can't wait to drive this thing around the virtual waters... Maybe even race it. Not that I am very fond of multihulls. They are getting way too much attention after the AC went crazy with cats. The lil Hepcat is quite nice, though it looks like a classic car compared to the Nacra, hehe...

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Fizz Cup 2012 finals

The Fizz Cup 2012 finals took place today, and it was a spectacular day at the race track. We all met in the north east corner of the Blake Sea. Racers, spectators and Fizz Cup crew. The Blake Sea was in a good mood, so we had four lovely races with very few technical problems and some really nice sailing.
Fizz Cup 2012, start
Very briefly, - until I find the time for a detailed post: There was a good fight, but in the end Silber Sands turned out to be pretty untouchable; Here's the results of the four races and a total with one throwaway:

1. (1,2,1,1:3) Silber Sands
2. (7,1,3,2:6) Ralf80 Titanium
3. (2,4,2,3:7) Ronin Zane
4. (7,3,4,4:11) Ayahoshi Resident
5. (3,5,7,5:13) Krysha Lundqvist
6. (4,6,5,6:15) Kris Hollysharp

Congrats to all, and stay tuned for more details. Check the official Fizz Cup 2012 site for all details about the cup, and... there's a few more pics on Orcas blog.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Snowy hot weekend

This is just where I wanna be, when it's freezing outside, snowflakes falling and all that. Beautiful place with palms and sandy beaches; Blue water and a beautiful boat, probably one of the prettiest boats ever made in SL.
but baby it's cold outside
In fact, let's have a haiku to go with that:


white snowflakes falling
gently covering my boat
how I miss summer


Have a great weekend...

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Ktaba Wauw

I rarely get my hands on a boat that really makes me go wauw! It happened a few days back with another update of the Ktaba 20. Yes, Craig Ktaba is still working on the already beautiful Ktaba20. It's a long journey towards perfection, but it is so worth the wait.
Jib sheets
This version is much improved on both sailing engine and the graphics details. The graphics details are top notch. Just check the image above. Not only does it come with a main sheet. There are jib sheets too, and they actually run around the winches and back to a cleat; And they only do that to leeward.
Looking up there's more fun. This is probably the first time I've seen a keeler with windex that works; Meaning two things: It turns with the apparent wind, and it can be seen from the cockpit. Not a big deal, as many boatbuilders would say. Wrong. The windex is one of the key components of creating that feel, the illusion of being in a real boat. It's been on the Shelly Fizz, built by a racer and loved by racers, for years.
Smooth sailing
Question: What's the first thing a sailor looks for, - before setting sail? The wind direction. Why? You simply cannot sail (or even set sails) without knowing the wind direction. And where can it be seen? Look up, and there it is. Craig even modeled a windex that looks pretty much like a real one. It only misses the screaming orange colour on the bottom side; Makes it easier to see from the cockpit.
Sheets and boat
Here's one more shot of the sheets. Note how they run through the sheet traveller and around shrouds. The loose sheet just hanging round the mast. Totally realistic. I just love lying on the foredeck, half asleep, listening to the bow wake, having an occasional peek at the windex, the sails and sheets; Just to make sure the autopilot is on course.
Tiny details
There's just one tiny detail about those sheets; Probably noone will notice, but it is visible on the picture right above here; I'll let you figure it out, and then I'll send Craig an email about it.

The feel? The sailing? It's delicious. The sails look like sails, and they luff when they're supposed to. The boat moves like a boat; It supports realistic waves from the WWC windsetter. It heels over and accellerates as a real boat. It has nice sounds, though the winches are kinda silent.
La Deliciuse
One obvious thing gone missing though: There's no telltales. However, there is a pretty good hud in the form of a compass that includes wind angle, real and apparent. This means it is perfectly possible to sail the boat without that (f)ugly floating text hud, which so many boatbuilders seem to find sufficient. Oh, and there is a trimmable spin; And if you aren't really comfortable hoisting the spin, then you can always just wing the jib.
Taking a break in a lagoon
Cruisers will probably prefer that winging jib, as it is easier to handle. Requires less attention. In many ways the Ktaba is in fact perfect for a cruise around the virtual oceans. So many lagoons begging you to sail there, to moore and explore. It has room for a few friends too, and if they aren't just there to tan, they can even take part in the trimming.
That's when it starts to get really interesting. This lovely cruising vessel is built to race too. It has crewed  trimming, and there's several sail configurations to choose from. All this is run by a pretty lean and mean sailing engine, - built specifically for this boat. Low lag, easy sim crossing and WWC support, so there's shadowing, windbending, shifts, gusts, currents and more. A total dream machine. Wauv. Sail simulation? Oh yes! Much more on that in a later post.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The virtual sailor

leaves begin to fall
windy winds begin to howl
winter ends it all

birds stop their singing
afraid of next months bringing
frost will be clinging

come rain, shine or hail
still a true sailor must sail
no sailing means fail

a bit of blue sky
makes me ecstatically high
it is sail or die

I set sail in Blake
don't care much the sun is fake
sanity at stake


You guessed it! King Winter arrived yesterday, and while I like snow and skiing, it also makes sailing impractical.