Thursday, January 31, 2013

Bent into shape

More good news from the Laser-lab. A few days back I asked if anyone could spot, what was missing on the Laser. The good news is: This one thing I was referring to, whatever it was, is no longer a missing feature.
Dutch was not exactly enthused by the thought of redoing the part in question. He made it sound like a very big deal, but somehow his magic worked overly well. Soon after - few hours after actually - there was a new an improved version in my mailbox. I rushed inworld to sail it.
Can you see it?
When I logged in, I got a message about a VO70 race in the North Sea, so I decided to sail from the Mango Marina. Haven't been there for ages. There was a good breeze - like 15 knots or so, so it was great fun with  plenty of planing. And the missing feature? 
Can you see it now?
Here it is in full detail, and if you cannot spot it now, you either need glasses or you've never seen a real Laser. First one to mention it in the comments I'll send a postcard. No, not you Dutch :-D
Coconut Island?
Besides the Laser itself, the sailing in the North Sea is always a pleasure. While the real North Sea is cold and windy, - the virtual North Sea is warm, friendly and full of little coconut islands like the one in the back. Yummy. Sailing "knife in teeth" is fun, but sailing "sand in toes" is nice too.
Indians in the North Sea
Here's another few islands. The one to the left has a tipi on it. Never hear of the North Sea indians, but there you go. The vikings sailed to New Foundland, so why shouldn't the indians sail the other way? Ahh, there's another feature that is now working. The centerboard now works as expected. 
Centerboard working
It actually comes up and down when you "tell it to". Pretty neat, hehe; Most importantly it makes it easier to round a mark and get planing right away. It'll start planing on a reach, so if you execute the rounding carefully, you can be planing even before you are on course to the next mark.
Hiking strap working too
There's just one more thing I'd like to mention. If you check the first pic, you can see the hiking strap holding my feet. It's bent upwards. On this shot here, I am not using the strap, and you can (just) see it hanging loose. How's that for attention to detail?

While the attention to detail is immense, the real keyword for this boat is "refreshing". I had a truly  refreshing sail with this baby in the North Sea. Refreshing as in - it felt like sailing. This boat looks so real, you automatically expect it to be like a real boat. It's almost there. I still miss a few details such as the vane on the Shelly Fizz, and there's other stuff I'd like to add. Nevertheless, I can't wait to sail it again... 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Laser action

Enough talking... Let's see some action. Here's me and Dutch racing a bit; Me pinching, trying to cover...
Here's me, fully concentrated on getting max speed out of this thingy. The Laser is extremely lively, so it is imperative to steer and stay focused all the time...
Full speed
... Dutch is doing pretty good too. Stay focused... stay absolutely focused. No looking at the scenery. No looking back. I can hear his bow wake... is he coming closer? Stop thinking and start sailing...
Eeeek. He's got a little lift there, and maybe - just maybe - I was thinking too much instead of sailing. Hey! Ahoy there!! This here is just about close enough.
That's close enough pal
Ok, so he got away. After all he built this baby, so he should know it better. Not an excuse. Just an explanation, teehee. Nah, I kinda lost focus in sheer excitement over this boat.
Hey! That's far enough pal...
However, there's no reason to give up. Never. never give up. There is always an option to win it back. Something will happen. A lift, a shift, he will make a mistake, a huge bird will land on his boat and drag it down - something will happen... just wait for it.
Working hard, hiking hard
My turn to get a lift. See... The gab is closing; Just a few more minutes of hard hiking and...
Yes, - I am back on top. This is an absolutely amazing boat... and it isn't even done yet. I am not sure I can possibly imagine how great this will be once finished. This will raise the barre. Virtual sailing in SL will never be the same again.

Still a few details are missing. We already covered the continous sheet loop and the missing traveller in the comments here. I covered the non-carbon blocks in this post. It is not the centerboard, because it is already working. Well, it is sorta working, but only when it wants to. What's left? I wonder if anyone can spot it...

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Just under 14 feet of fun

So here's a question: If a sixtyfive footer is great fun, does that mean a fourteen footer is like four times less fun? Thirteen foot and nine inches to be precise:
Easy take off
Dutch has been fiddling with a Laser for some time. It really begins to look like a winner. Last night was my first time sailing it, and here we are. Taking off from Tradewinds. Taking it easy.
Looking good
It does look rather nice, don't you think. Now it isn't just looks; There's brains too. It actually sails. Woohooo. Depending on how you handle the rudder and the sheet, that is...
Into the Big Blue Hawaiian
What's the name of that blue drink? I have a faint memory of something called an "Icebear", but since these waters aren't icy, I'll go with the "Blue Hawaiian. It's sounds warmer, and it's sweeter too. Wonder where Dutch went;
Back up again
Diving for something that wasn't securely attached? Anyway, we got it back up on it's feet again; It's a good thing the sun is out, cause I wasn't exactly wearing a swimsuit. However, the winds are nice and warm in Siracusa. Easy to dry.
A room with a view
We sailed on, and I just sat there and enjoyed the view; Completely taken by this amazing boat. It looks absolutely stunning, and the sailing is very good too. It is as if all the experience from the VO70, the VO65 and the Nacra17 is going into this. Which is probably the truth ;-)

To be continued..

Friday, January 25, 2013

65 feet of fun

This is just me out having some good old fashioned fun. Sixtyfive feet of fast and furious fun. Yay! So is it the size that matters? Actually no! It's the agility. It's the way it moves. This baby tosses and turns like no other boat. It is such a salty snack.
Entering the Blake Sea
Too much work and too much ice in RL! Gaaah. Sometimes I just need a good load of fresh and salty wind in my hair. I wouldn't mind a few sunrays either. So I browsed through my boats and something made me stop at the VO65. Clickety-click and it's moored right there beside me. Whoa, it is big.
Sharp-tooth isle in sunlight
It's huge actually, - and it so wants me to sit on it and just sail away. So I hopped on, raised sails, and set a south-westerly course. Only minutes after that I turned 90 degrees, and weeee! Found a good rythm: Got  soaking wet while tacking towards the Blake Sea. That's when I realized I haven't blogged much about the VO65er. Very little in fact. Since the 65er came out right after the VO70, the VO70 kinda got all the attention. That's not entirely fair. Especially since the 65er is better.
Fastnet Rock and seaspray
In fact the VO65 is all the VO70 is plus more. More features, more fun and more details. Besides, it sails like a dream. It is so agile and lively. You absolutely must stay focused every single second, - or you loose control. It turns so fast you can swing it around almost instantly. Kinda like the DS37 Matchracer.
Heading for Siracusa
It's a real pity there aren't any regular class boat races with this boat. It's truly flying. That's one of the few downsides of this boat. It is almost too fast for the virtual oceans, or the virtual oceans are too small for the VO65. Just like the Nacra 17. Same builder, same "flaws", hehe. Speaking about flaws... While this boat looks like a racer and sails like a racer, there is really no concept of currents and wave simulations, so old salts will probably find it a little dull in the long run. Too bad... boats like these are made for long runs, but with no local windshifts and other variations it's not really much fun to find the optimum route. This boats really needs WWC wind.
Full speed ahead
Still, it's a dream boat if you need some fast paced action with a truly salty taste; I know I do. The RL sailing season is far, far, much too far away. It's freezing friggin winter. Under those conditions the VO65 is a truly meditative trip, a supersalty injection shot right into the veins. The seaspray is so good you instinctively duck behind the computerscreen. Fifteen minutes round the Blake Sea and back to Tradewinds and the smile-o-meter says "wide". Ahh...

Update: I got an email saying these pics do a great job as desktop background... Thanx.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Harrier in Nyhavn

SL is truly an amazing world, and it's not just because of the virtual sailing. Less than a week ago I blogged about an aircraft carrier. It passed by while I was out racing the Nacra 17. Check here if you missed it. In the post I joked about a Harrier jet, and I wondered, if there are Harriers available in SL...
A Harrier taking off from the helipad in Nyhavn
So, yesterday I met this guy: Ingmar Wallstedt. Now that's a very Swedish sounding name, and sure enough... Ingmar turned out to be genuinely Swedish; We had fun speaking Scandinavian for a while, and then he wanted to show me a new place called Nyhavn. 
Hovering over the Nyhavn canal
Now, Nyhavn is a famous part of Copenhagen; Turists will know it from the many bars along the canal. Ofcourse I wanted to see it, so I went along, and Nyhavn is what you see in the back of the photos above. It's pretty neat with shops and clubs and... I suppose you've also noticed the Harrier jet by now?
Janina Foxdale
You see, Ingmar introduced me to a friend of his, Janina Foxdale. She is the very Swedish looking chick on the picture above. I showed her a couple of boats that would fit nicely in the Nyhavn moorings. The VO65 was maybe too big, but the Tofinou looked great. 
An impressive sight and sound
Anyway, it turns out she actually owns a Harrier Jet. She was quite good at flying it, and I tell you, it's a pretty impressive sight sitting in a Fizz, while a Harrier jet is hovering right above you. Not to mention the noise. So there are Harriers in SL. Isn't that just unreal? Still haven't found a strawberry margarita...

PS: I am not really into flying, but flying is big in SL. Liv from Tradewinds has a sweet spot for seaplanes, so we've had several "boatshows" with seaplanes. Check the category planes if you're a flyboy... Chuting is also possible, and it's great fun. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Shadows and max VMG

Woohooo... I got me a new computer with brains as fast as the TGV. Now I can have long distance viewing, water reflections - and - shadows, while still having superfast screen updates. Does this affect the virtual sailing? Well, it does makes the world look better. It also makes the sailing experience more smooth. I kinda like smooth sailing.
Will the new Laser have shadowing?
More importantly, it seems to update my screen faster. Apparently, I get the windchange and the trim updates faster. That enables me to react faster and stay closer to max VMG. It also means I can visually call a layline from further out, which is a very nice thing. Oh, and I can see the other boats on the course - even when they are 200 or 500 meters away. I guess in the Phoenix Viewer I'd be able to see more than 1000 meters while racing.

I have yet to race and see if it really makes any difference; Perhaps it doesn't. I know hardcore virtual racers such as Liv Leigh can sail really fast with a view distance of just 64 meters. Doesn't really work for me. Makes me feel like sailing blindfolded.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Virtual Laser Insanity

Here it is again: The virtual Laser. With extreme attention to detail. This time with textures. Who said virtual insanity? Whoa, it doesn't get much closer to the real thing than this:
The new Virtual Laser
It is so amazing, - I am left speechless and breathless; Feeling kinda dizzy. Actually, I'd better sit down and gaze for a few moments on this, the latest mesh build from Dutch Kain.
It looks so real...
The attention to detail is beyond anything that I've seen so far. This is really what mesh is all about. There seems to be almost no limits. (Provided you have enough time for fiddling with 3D tools). 
... it's hard to tell  it really isn't!
The sheets and the trimlines are all there. The blocks are there. Hiking strap is there as are all the fittings. Not only are they there; They continue to have amazing detail, - even when you zoom in.
Fittings, blocks, lines...
Here's a closer view of the kicker. Harken block and all. I would have chosen the lightweight carbon series from Harken; Don't like all that metal, - but that's not the important thing here.
More details
Some of those lines are probably overdimensioned; The kicker for instance, - it could have been a 2mm line, but hey... even when wearing gloves those thin lines will hurt your fingers, so a bit of overdimensioning is ok here.
Rear view
And it is not just the trimlines that are perfect; The rear end ain't too bad either. Note the fittings for the rudder. Disregard the irregularity in the hull shape. (For now).
Lasersharp Laser
Am I excited? You can bite your nose I am, but it doesn't yet sail. There is still work to be done; Under the hood. In the meantime, let's sail the Nacra. Mine's wating to the right, right outside the pictureframe.

PS: Here's the laser before texturing. Here's another virtual Laser.
PPS: While we're at it...
PPPS: Check this post about Renemarines Schokker, - the first boat I saw that really meshed out max.

Aircraft Carrier in Siracusa

Here's a shot of an aircraft carrier passing by while we race in Siracusa. I only managed to get this one shot, then it was gone. You can probably see from the bow wake, that the carrier was in a hurry. Singlehanded racing in the Nacra 17 keeps you kinda busy; Too much fumbling with cameras and you're in the drink.
Carrier south of Tradewinds
Anyway, I thought I'd put it up here for completeness. I have a few subs and destroyers and stuff. This one is a new type of ship filed under warships. Some people seem to find those dreaded warships interesting. Me, I get the creeps everytime they sneek up on us. Especially that sub... Eeeewww! Creepy, - but the details in the builds are amazing.

Oh, - can anyone see what make it is? I'd say British. It's big but it's not huge like those American ones we all know from movies... The ingenious Brits have those planes that don't need an airstrip, so they could pretty much land on the foredeck of a Bavaria 45. Ok perhaps a 65er is needed.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Dreaming of a white Laser

We just had snow again. Cold, beautiful and Christmas like. That's why the title is inspired by a very famous Christmas song.
A snow white and shiny Laser...
Anyway, this could be interesting. Looks pretty much like a Laser. A little pale, but aren't we all this time of year? Is it a white label product? Hardly.
So much attention to details
It is definately not the same Laser as the one I sailed in this post though. This one here has way more details. I just spotted one thing missing. Won't tell what it is, but feel free to guess. (I'll say yes/no).
More laser-sharp details
I'll keep an eye on this one for sure. Maybe two eyes even. Hopefully it will get an interesting sail engine, so we can race it for real;
Sailors perspective looks promising
Here's what it looks like from the sailors perspective. Not too bad, ehh? Just add that red wind arrow on the lower mast, and any real sailor will feel extremely comfortable with this.

I've also sailed a boat called "Racing Lil-Laser"; Not a true Laser replica, but it is one of the few boats that has a usable wind indicator. Lately we've seen the amazing upgraded Ktaba 20 with a really good windex. However, the best windvane I have seen in in SL, - it is the one found on the Shelly Fizz. That's the kinda windvane I'd like to see on the Laser too.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Virtual Nacra 17 Racing

Here's a handfull of cool thoughts and hot shots from the first Tradewinds race with the fantastic virtual Nacra 17 from Dutch Kain. Tadah. This took place yesterday at 2pm SLT at Tradewinds, and I was there as part of my on going cat therapy.
Waiting for  the clock to start ticking
Here we are, beautiful boat, beautiful sailing day, right south of Tradewinds, waiting for the clock to start ticking. None of us felt very confident sailing the Nacra, and one even capsized before we got started. Ofcourse Dutch was smiling from ear to ear. He's had way more hours in this boat than any of us.
The wind was 15 knots from a northly direction, and that usually means nice, flat water south of Tradewinds. The wind had a tendency to favour a port side start. I couldn't feel it because my hairdryer driver failed to work on 64bits windows, but pointing the cat told me 12 degrees.
Measuring wind angles
I sailed around the starting area and took notes of the angles on port and starboard upwinds. This is not a WWC boat; There's no shadowing, no current and no wave simulation, but it does come with some sort of global wind variations.
So off we went. For some reason Dutch had chosen a five minute starting sequence, so I was struggling with my watch. It was preset to three minutes. That's what we usually use in SL, or at least that's what I had used last. Timing the start is pretty important here, since the boat picks up speed like a rocket. If you're not at the line when the gun goes off, then you'll never catch the leaders.
Now! There are certain rules to take into account. For instance, you always let the designer win the first race in a new boat. That didn't make Dutch smile any less, when he came first. I came second, and I swiftly switched to relaxation mode, so that the third boat could "see just how long we had waited. Like 20 seconds, teehee. You can see the clock there, saying 09:27 for third place.
Different BWinds
That's when Becca sailed by in her BWind 2.0 Baby Sloop. In the back, to the right. The Baby Sloop is the  basis for many virtual boats in SL, - including the Nacra 17. The BWind must have been tweaked quite a bit by Dutch to make it work in a cat with two people on board.
Tasha and me
We sailed another race, and Dutch won again. This time he was just plain lucky. Ok, so maybe he knows in details at what angles the boat can carry the genn and I don't. So maybe he was just a bit faster at hoisting that genn. Still, I got off to a better start, but this boat is so fast the virtual world has trouble appearing in due time. I saw nothing but water and boom! I was in the middle of a building. Talk about a set back. I needed help, so Tasha hopped on board.
Last race
We did good, and here we are, - landing in a little over seven minutes. Not too bad, but Dutch did better with Ana on bord; Probably because she is so skinny. As you can see above, - Tasha and I could easily lift one of the hulls out of the water, but it was the wrong hull, the lee hull. Duh! The daggerboards work much better, when lifting the windward hull, so no more icecream for me...
Finally, on top of Dutch
As you can see, there's lots to work with; Genn, trim, balance, timing, steering, and the crew can help trimming via the hud. This calls for coordination. More than once both Tasha and I typed genn almost simultaneously resulting in the genn flipping up and down, hehe. We had huge fun. Don't miss out when the gun goes off on friday for another few rounds of Nacra action. More Nacra 17 racing tips...

My cat therapy? I just stopped sneezing whenever I see a cat.