Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Distinguished class

Craig of the Ktaba tribe has gone and done something very nice and very extraordinary. Something seen only on a few very special virtual boats sailing the SL waters.
The Ktaba 20 now enters the distinguished class of boats with... Can you spot it?

(Hint: Even the brand new and super delicious Melges 24 hasn't got this feature. Naahnee naanee naanaa ;-)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

VO70 Action

Oh Yeah... I talked to Dutch again, and we played a little with those VO70 boats. I already wrote a bit about them. These things really begin to look amazing, and they're gonna be absolutely fantastic, once they're completed.
Imagine a fleet of these sexy monster boats racing, - say... from Tradewinds Yacht Club in Dex down the narrow straight west of Wicktro round the Fastnet Rock in the Blake Sea and then back again to a huge party?
RCs en miniature?
Never mind the party. Just imagine ten of these virtual VO70s hoisting the Gen, and then they start planing past Wicktro so fast they barely notice it. Dunno bout you, but I wanna be there, when that happens. It's gonna take a little while though. 
Crazy things
If you look closely, there is no-one on board, so what's actually happening here? Currently, these boats might as well be RC boats. Yes, we do have virtual radio controlled boats; Seems a bit crazy to me, but hey...  
Pretty sure TYC rounds first here
To tell the truth, a VO70 is a crazy machine too. As are those AC cats. Crazy. I mean, the AC45s are crazy enough. Elite sailors wearing helmets! What will be next? Seatbelts and airbags?? I am not sure words exist to describe the larger ones, and... will they require spacesuits or american football outfits? 
Close up
I guess the VO70 is a more normal boat for more normal sailors, as helmets aren't required. I might wanna wear gloves and put on some kind of knee protection. But that's about it. After all Volvo is known first and foremost for safety "on board". Oh, one more thing for protection...
This looks intense
Sun screen! Going round the world isn't always a ride on the sunny side. Somehow, I got a feeling that racing a virtual VO70 will be a very sunny experience. Bikini's will be allowed; Perhaps even required. Let's see if the cameras prefer scared little boyz in helmets or little girls in bikinis, teehee...
Santa baby...
There are loads of virtual boats available, and many of them are very nicely made. Some even sail pretty well, but right now... Santa please... I want one of these for Xmas, and can we please make Xmas happen a little earlier this year? I promise I will be nice and not yell "Starboard Bow" at beginner sailors. At least for a year. As usual these images deserve full screen viewing.

Want more? Here's a few shots of a VO70 and me.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Classy power?

By sheer accident I sat on the pier, thinking, when this here thingy sailed by. At first I thought - oh well, just another noisy, gazoline burning stinkpotter, but then I looked again...
Classy power boat?
... and it struck me, that powerboats can have so many shapes and forms. Most are ugly, but some can be beautiful. I pinched me to make sure I was awake. Then I thought I had too much sun. Overheated. 
But no.. it moored right before my eyes, and I was still kinda thinking... oh, this is nice. Didn't have much time though, but I managed to take one picture of the interior, and whoa... It definately looks like a live-aboard.
Nice huh!
It has all the basic "life-support-systems" plus more. I mean, - take a look. It is a nice living room, right?  And there's cabins down the stairs at the back. Many cabins. No pics though, cause it suddenly sailed off, and besides... I was needed elsewhere.
Next time I see this boat, I will ask the owner for a guided tour. See it all. Maybe even have a cold beer  on deck to make sure I am not having a fever. The dreaded power boat fever, hehe. 

If you like livcaboards, then you might like the giant cat here, and if you aren't into multihulls, then here's another really nice liveaboard

Saturday, May 26, 2012

So different

Craig Ktaba is building the beautiful Ktaba 20. At the same time Qyv Inshan is building a virtual Melges 24, also a beautiful boat. Two boats of roughly the same size and the same crew requirement. Apart from that, they are sooo different.
Ktaba 20 and Melges 24
One is a traditional long, sleek, heavy long keeler with a huge main, a small jib and a spinnaker. The other one is a super modern wide, open cockpit lightweight finn keeler with main, large genoa and a gennaker on a bow spirit. Oh, - the colours are different too, but that can be fixed. Hehe, a wooden Melges would look kinda weird, no?
A couple of old timers in the back
In both cases the building process, - or creation process if you will, is exciting to watch. With regular intervals new versions are ready; Typically they sport improved hulls, better rig, better looking sails, a working windvane, telltails, compass, balance, tweaked steering, more precise gybing and sometimes also better sounds. There's a lot to take into account, when building a virtual boat. Wind, waves and current too.
Craig and me talking boats; Burt and his sloop in the back
All are features that a boat needs to provide a lively and realistic sailing experience. So even though these two boats are very different on the outside, they really share almost all the above mentioned features.

What do you think? Same same, but different? Water and fire, and yet they share the same soul? Which one would you choose, - and for what purpose?

More on the Ktaba 20 here. More on the Melges 24 here.

Friday, May 25, 2012

What's a Hanuman anyway?

A few days back I got a call from ElMegro. He invited me for a ride in a Hanuman. I wasn't quite sure what it was, and googling didn't make it much better; Wikipedia says Hanuman is the Monkey God. Duh! It helps alot to google for Hanuman Yacht: Then it becomes clear that it's a J-Class yacht.
The Hanuman Yacht from ReneMarine
This one is the Virtual Hanuman from ReneMarine. Some yacht, huh! It's big. In fact it is way bigger than these small pictures are able to show. Hmm... Let's have a close up with something in the back; Just to give you an idea of the proportions...
That's more like it. Now the Hanuman looks like a small yacht, hehe. She's 42 meters of super classic beauty with an extreme overhang. The waterline is just under 28 meters. Talk about old school design. This baby has to heel to go anywhere near maximum speed.
The tiny RM20 in the back
It turned out we were in a race against another beauty from ReneMarine, the RM20 from ReneMarine. I didn't quite catch the name of the handicap rule. The RM20 is much smaller but still kinda big. Not huge, but big... at least in the virtual waters of SL. The shot above shows ElMegro and me in the Hanuman with the itsy bitsy RM20 in the back.
Smooth sailing
Despite her size, she sails quite well. I guess its due to the ReneMarine sailing engine. Usually, virtual boats this big have problems updating fast enough. The smoothness is replaced with cranky, stuttering moves. Kinda like electric boogie. That makes the sailing experience uninteresting. Not so with the Hanuman.
Blue water cruising
She's definately a sailor. Probably a little too big for the virtual waters as they mostly offer inshore sailing. The Hanuman feels at home out in the open; Blue water cruising or long distance racing seems to be more  her game. There is another problem with the size. Silly technical limitations restrict the amount of details on moving objects in this virtual world.
Full speed ahead
The differences between a real boat and a virtual replica can be few on a small boat. On a bigger boat, compromises must be made. At least when using the technology available at the time, when the Hanuman was built. Today, we're getting used to new levels of details as seen on the Oceanic and the VO70.
Tall ship?
So, the virtual Hanuman sails surprisingly well. She's lively and fast. She looks great under sail too, - especially from a distance. The sails themselves are also well made, and the woodwork looks great. The interior is also nice. In fact this is probably the best J-Class available in SL. Still, I am not overly enthused by this fabulous build. Why?
In the cockpit
Somehow the virtual Hanuman doesn't quite have the sleek elegancy of the real thing. Whether it's the proportions or technical limitations I dunno. The deck and the interior is well made, no doubt. It is just that the the real thing has sooo many more details. To me the virtual Hanuman appears too clean cut. She is still a fantastic build, but seeing the real thing... oh my... Perhaps the virtual world isn't quite ready for this type of Yacht??

PS: Check one of Rene's latest builds with amazing details;

Thursday, May 24, 2012

I like flowers

It's probably no surprise: Girls like flowers! Virtual flowers are good too. True, they aren't excactly the real thing, and they do share a problem with virtual marinas and virtual oceans. There's no scent. However, they sure look nice, and since I promised a few shots of flowers here they are...
Lotsa flowers
That automatic watering system is hidden somewhere in the grass. I saw it work. In fact I was within range once, when it started. At first I didn't really understand what was going on. Rain on a perfectly sunny day? I guess I won the wet t-shirt contest, - being the only one around.
More flowers
Here's a closer viev. You can barely see a hidden path leading out through those tall orangy flowers to a secluded sandy beach. Want more flowers?
Flowers with a view
Flowers, beach, ocean view... in the distance there is a parasol. Someone is probably sitting there sipping a cool corona or someting. Hey! A strawberry margarita maybe. But right now it is about flowers. Close eyes, take deep breath and feel the scent of a million flowers with the ocean waves roaring the back...
More flowers with a view
Oh yes, I like this place. It has it all. Flowers, birds, butterflies, palms, sandy beach and soo much piece and quiet. All that's missing is a tiny pier for me and my boat; This is what virtual sailing is also about. Mooring and exploring. Finding these secret spots around the Blake Sea and the North Sea. Slowly cruising around under a heavy sun.

PS: That beach just might look kinda like this...

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Virtual sails

A lot can be said about virtual sails. The most important thing to remember is that they keep getting better and better. The first sails were flat like pancakes, and they didn't luff. I can't say who invented the sailshaped sails, but Qyv Inshan surely understood the importance of the textures, as can be seen in this post here.
The QSM40; Probably the best looking sails in SL
The sails are the engine, and the tuning happens by tweaking the shape. So obviously sailors want to see the shape. Sometimes the sails has built-in lines to emphasize the shape. Sometimes the sailors add horizontal lines to make the shape easier to "read". On the QSM40 it is all there.
Flying Fizz; Probably the best sailing simulator in SL
Again, the Flying Fizz is the reference. It comes with lovely textures, it has live telltales and sheets plus a quite unique feature, - outhauls to tweak the sailshape. However, there is another less known feature, which is the subject of this post. It has a correctly shaped lower part of the main. The Fizz is a special case, since it has an open main bottom.
Lower part of  the main on the QSM40
Most other boats got this wrong, - even the beautiful QSM40 sails. The main simply has no shape in the lower part. Right above the boom the main becomes flat as can be seen on the picture above. I've talked to boatbuilders about this; They always say it is impossible to fix. Now, they said that about luffing sails and  telltales too...
Lower part of the main on a comparable real boat
So builders, - here's a challenge... This is what it should really look like. Well, apart from those vertical wrinckles. I was guest trimming that day, but my camera so wanted me to take pics instead. No worries, cause we found that defining lift before any other boats had a clue...

UPDATE: I can't believe I forgot that Qyv's 2.4mR has an open foot main. Check it out in this post, where it is pretty obvious in the first image. Thanx Qyv.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A math error

Just out sailing a test version of that Melges I saw the other day. It is Qyvs beautiful virtual Melges 24. Such a nice build. Easy to sail and very stable, - or so it seemed. I started with loads of smooth upwind sailing. Lots of easy tacks in 7 m/sec. Sooo nice.
Qyv's Melges beating
I still think she tacks just a little too slow. In a real Melges 24 the time from thought to completed tack is no more than five seconds. I mean, when I say "and tackiiiing, and up", then the tack starts on "and" and it ends on "and". And we all climb to windward on "up". Then comes the accelleration, I know, but swinging over to the new course is fast with boats that sit on the water, not in the water as is the case with more classic designs.
Going down!
Anyway. After all this tacking, I needed to get back to Tradewinds, and that's when it all started to go wrong. I decided to hoist the gen. All smoth still, but then I gybed, and all of a sudden the thing started rotating like a mad around the mast foot or something. It was a very weird experience. That's one thing a real boat would never do.
Comming up?
All the way around it rotated. Apparently at a steady rate. I clicked everywhere. I tried all sorts of commands. Sheeted out. Sheeted in. Nothing helped, until I took the sails down and moored. Finally it stopped.
Hanging in there...
Me, - all dizzy... calling Qyv. I started by saying the Melges made me dizzy, and she already knew what I was gonna say next. Turns out there was a math error somewhere... probably in a denominator. We all know how bad that is. It explodes. Next time I go sailing, I'll bring a friend from the bomb squad.

Thank God for waterproof mascara.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Virtual VO70

I've been looking for it, and now it is here. The virtual VO70. Not much to say but whoa, I look so tiny from up there.
Taking a nap
Talk about a tall ship. I mean Cutty Sark go home. This is the real deal in 2012. Even the birds can't fly that high...
The nap view
It's tall, it's wide, it's speedy, it's modern and it has all the gizmoes of a modern racer including a canting keel. Just look at those sails. So big. Next shot is me thinking about concrete and lead and stuff. Trying to be heavy.
Me being heavy
Ok, I am done being heavy. Now I am thinking Titanic, hehe. Sadly, Leonardo didn't pop up, and I even tried my absolute best to look pale and blondish.
Perhaps I wasn't dressed for the occasion, I dunno. What I was dressed for was this: Heavy duty trimming.
Trimming the thing
Only did 8.5 knots in a light summer breeze, but hey... then it is easier to look cool on the fore deck.
Need a little less sheet on that gennaker
This shot here is not a quiz. Is is most definately me on a VO70 somewhere around Tradewinds YC.
Trying to look cool
And we're back. Moored at Tradewinds YC. Lotsa fancy boats around here. This one is my favourite of the day. It's most certainly a WOAH-70. Here's a bit more about it.

PS: Few boats can compete with the VO70 on level of details. ReneMarine's mesh schouw is probably  one of the few that can. Motor Loons Oceanic is another one.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Another Destroyer

It's been a peacefull while since last time I spotted a warship off the Tradewinds coast. Yesterday it happened again.
Another destroyer
Lotsa details, so even though I really don't like these grey shadows, I must admit they're well made.
Quiz time
This one is kinda different from the other destroyer. They are flying the same colours, and they are patroling the same virtual waters, but something isn't quite right. There are a few significant differences between the two...
Helicopter perspective
Of course I didn't know it, but I clicked the thing and learned... hehe. So anyone dare to guess? Hints? Time, place, usage??

American flag, Japanese destroyer!! (WWI hence the small size)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Talk about scale

Here's just a few shots of Dutch and me having a boattalk... In front you see the Flying Fizz, - known for it's fantastic sailing simulation. Behind us you see the VO70. And what's the connection, you might ask? Well, the VO70 is really just a scaled up version of a modern dinghy.
Little sister
The VO70 has the same sails, - main, jib and gennaker. It also has the same sailing characteristics. It planes most of the time, and if it doesn't the trimmer is thrown over board. They can do that because there's enough room to have spare trimmers on board.

The hull shapes are also essentially the same. High speed hulls made for planing. Even the materials are the same... Carbon fiber everywhere. Strong and light for maximum performance, and when it breaks it is a mess to repair...
Big sister
The only real difference is with the balance. It is handled just a little different. The little sister has no keel and one centerboard. Balance is handled (mostly) by the person in the trapeze. The bigger sister has two centerboards, though only one is used at a time. No, it is not because two is twice as good as one... It is because there is a swingkeel. Same principle: More weight to windward!

Can't wait to see this baby fly. Be back soon with more updates...

PS: New to virtual sailing? Here's more on the Flying Fizz. Here's more on the technical side of Virtual Sailing. Here's the story of it all. Finally, here's a few shots from a beautiful race.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Dragon talk

Here's a few shots of a beautiful - but still unfinished - piece of work... the Dragon. This version has a FizzKit sail engine inside. Now, what kind of sense does that make to the average virtual sailor? It is all about getting that sailing experience close to the real thing.
A Dragon-like Dragon
First, it means the Dragon can be made to sail and behave like a real Dragon.Secondly, it means superb WWC support. That includes full support for wind, waves and currents, - with shifts, localization and variation. Thirdly, it means the boat has those key instruments built in, - compass, speed and wind indicator plus telltales...Finally it means the crew can trim and balance too. Someone can trim the main sheets, and someone else can trim the jib and the gennaker. Oh, and the sailshape can be trimmed too!! Flat sails for flat water and so on...
The builder, Victor Cruiser on the right
The FizzKit is obviously a true sail simulator kit. It is designed to simulate anything from a foiling Moth, - over a planing Dinghy such as the International 14 footer, - to a traditional long keeled classic such as the Dragon. It is a massive piece of work. Several months of full time work actually. There might be small and unnoticable glitches, but it works great and the Flying Fizz and the Shelly Fizz are both very good examples of what is possible. However, even the Flying Fizz does not use all the features of the Fizzkit sail engine.
The real deal
Since the FizzKit is so much about recreating the true and realistic sailing feel, here's a shot of a real Dragon. Note the slight difference in fullness on the bow. Apart from that tiny detail the hull of virtual Dragon looks pretty picture perfect. The sails still need some work, so I won't show them. Not just yet.
Imagine a fleet

The sails are there, and they work. Absolutely. They just need a little adjustment before they look perfectly Dragonlike. I know Victor is fiddling with that. There's much to be done with sails. Shapes, telltales, luffing sales and also decicions about sail technology, - tweaking of the type of sailcloth used... Yes, the FizzKit supports different types of sailcloth as well as myriads of other boatly details...

Stay tuned for more on the Dragon... or click dragon right under here (category), if you must read more.