Sunday, November 30, 2014

Team Vestas grounded

Ok, explain me this: You start by taking a state of the art racing yacht. It might have had issues with assembly quality at first, but it is state of the art.
The VO65
Then you spend millions on sails and hire top notch sailors from all over the world. Back it all up with a global player in the wind industry and they follow a course like this:
Looking for an island to hit
It does not look like a GPS defect. It looks like I dunno what. Look at it! Why didn't the alarm bell ring? They aren't even close to missing it. They are hitting it head on ending up like this:
I mean really. Really really. It is not like the island is secret base or unknown land or anything...
A well known island
It's Cargados Carajos. Named in 1506. Sixteen islands and numerous rocks at surface level. It's been there for ages. This is so embarrassing. So WTF happened?

Update 1: I've hit a rock a couple of times. Holiday sailing going at slow speed while looking to drop the anchor. It is not a nice experience. However, these guys were doing 19 knots at night in the middle of nowhere. OMG it must have been discomforting to say the least.
Just where is it?
Looks like they hit something east of Coco Island. Wikipedia puts that at 16° 50′ 0″ S, 59° 30′ 0″ E. Google maps shows the excact spot. Some say that older texts indicate these islands are about three miles further south-west. It is hard to imagine a state of the art racing machine sailing with old charts, no?

Update 2: This is a more detailed viev of just what they hit:
Apparently there's a population there. Up north. Cruisers occasionally come to visit, and OMG there's even supposed to be a lighthouse on Ile du Sud; Very close to where they were grounded. I can't find a picture of Coco Island, but here's a shot of Ile Du Sud, where they are staying right now.
The barracks on Ile Du Sud
The lighthouse isn't very visible. Maybe it is not there anymore. BUT... Both the islands, the lighthouse and the reefs are on this screenshot from an electronic chart:
The lighthouse
Which means it has been charted accurately on modern navigation tools. Someone was there using electronic charts. So really... WTF happened here...

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Fizz Cup 2014

We saw some truely great racing in the North Sea this evening. Sixteen skippers signed up and thirteen showed. We were looking forward some busy times in the Fizz Cup team. I was on the RD boat, so here's a view from the rather chaotic prestart circus. That's excactly how it should be some 30 seconds before start: Chaotic.
The usual chaotic prestart 
During five fantastic races we had close to zero protests; None were filed, and I think there were only two or three incidents where someone found it neccessary to do a 720. There was some talk about someone hitting the RD boat, but I didn't see or hear it and I was the only one onboard.
The shot above shows the fleet en route - just crossing the startline in race one. It was a tight squeeze having 13 boats on a line as short as this. The line is supposed to be 1.5 times the total length of the fleet. This line was not; Amazingly, the expected barge-fest didn't happen. I suppose this has to do with the sailors knowing the risks of such a start. Another thing that made me wonder: Note the angle between the boats and the line. It looks like a portside start was favoured. Noone dared to take that chance.

Winner of the Fizz Cup 2014
After five super races we found a champion. She didn't have better peek boatspeed, but from my observations she was considerably better at keeping the boat at top speed. That's more of a boathandling thing. She'd be just a tiny bit faster at most maneuvers and especially after most maneuvers. Oh, and no capsizes even though there were mean gusts spread out over the course. Especially on the left side. That was more than enough. She won with a considerable margin. In fact she didn't even need to sail the last race. Congrats to Silber Sands. Very nice sailing. From my notes, I am pretty sure Armano is second and Ultramantra is third. Woots. What a great day out there... Thanx to Bea for organizing.
More on this very soon...

Monday, November 24, 2014

Hudless J-class sailing

A few days back ZZ asked if the Maia can be sailed without a hud; I answered yes. Maia comes with a nice hud, but she also has key features known from RL such as compass, luffing and a windex. Here's a few images to support it.
Well trimmed sails won't flap
First up there's the flapping. Racers like telltails because they give an early warning of non-optimum airflow. However, it is perfectly possible to cruise and race without telltails. Just pick your course. Let out the sails till they flap, and then sheet in untill they stop flapping. The hud will help you find and stay at the point of optimum sailtrim - as will telltails; However, when you are cruising, no-one pays attention to that last half knot of speed. They care about the freshness of the lime in the GT and the spectacular view...
When you are at the wheel, there's a compass right in front of you. Look down a bit, and if you are one of those ppl with huge boobs, you're in trouble. Me, I can see the compass just fine, and yes it does rotate... or rather the compass stays still while the boat rotates. Oh, and note there's no cupholder, so you gotta steer with one hand while balancing your soft drink with the other. (or just don't drink and drive ;-) 
Windex tells you apparent wind direction
Up the mast is a pretty little helper-thingie. It is the well known windex that more and more boat builders now seem to include, and that i soooo nice. No more texthuds needed. Just look up and you know the wind. Just like a real boat. 
Heeling tells you windspeed
But it doesn't tell the windspeed, and there's no meter saying how strong the wind is. True. No need for a windspeed readout. That you must figure out yourself from the heel. Once the sails are trimmed, she will heel over according to windspeed. The boatspeed will - ofcourse - also be affected by this.
Downwind winging
That's really all there is to it. It helps a lot if you have a basic understanding of windangle versus sail angle. Downwind the wind hits the sails with a 90 degree angle and simply pushes the boat. Upwind it is a different story. Upwind the sails are almost aligned with the wind creating low pressure on the back of the sail essentially pulling the boat forwards. Just one more thing... the Maia is big. Craig spent some time making it sail like a big boat. She is not a dinghy. It will take a while to adjust course or turn her around.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Sizzling Fizzes

There was a training session last nigth. Sizzling hot Fizzes all over the Fizzcup course including me. However, my sizzling stopped several times, as I was caught more than once in gusts I couldn't handle. In a Fizz that means getting in the drink. End of sizzle. I didn't have time to take pictures of me swimming, but luckily I wasn't the only thirsty sailor. Here's Bea climbing onboard again...
Bea in the drink
It is a lovely course with loads of local variations in wind, currents and waves, but yesterday I hated it. First of all I hate those waves. I still find it rather difficult to sail in - or is it on - virtual waves. I am pretty fast on flat water, but I haven't cracked the virtual waves in SL. Where I should be doing 6.5 knots upwind, half the time those idiotic waves pushed me off course, and since the wind was pretty strong that meant healing too much, which in turn made me loose speed.
The Fizzcup 2014 course
To makes things worse it has gusts and local variations. On the left side of the course there are strong winds. I saw that on the first beat, so I went there on the downwind... gennaker up and me and my Fizz made 12+ knots, wooohooo. But then came a gust, and as I tried to gybe I went swimming. Twice. Dunno how they did it, but some of the others seemed to be able to handle it. Maybe they waited a bit longer before they gybed. I probably gybed right under the red arrow. Don't. Unless you are really thirsty.
A much needed break
After a race like that a short break is needed. Loads of boat talk flying across. Just like RL. Love that. Also a few "excuse me's" were passed on. I for one decided to tack right after the start, but my tack was far from perfect so I rammed into a SB boat. Eeeks how embarrassing. Better keep a better lookout to windward next time.
Silber in perfect balance
Back on track. Here's Silber in perfect balance just a few minutes after a start. It seems Silber is always fast not matter what the conditions. Kinda like in RL. There are those who are known to fly in low winds. There are those who always win in waves and strong winds. Then there are those locals that read the currents better or know just the right track with better wind angles. Silber, she is just always up there. Gosh, I need more training time. Burt was fast too. He's in the blue boat right behind Silber.
Those gybing experts in action
On this next shot Silber has been overtaken. Happens a lot in these races. In one of the races last night we saw some very impressing close racing. The first upwind and the two next legs had three top contenders sailing within just a few boatlengths all the way. Now that's not just about trim and balance. When it is that close it is also about keeping your cool and knowing the rules of close combat. I don't have shots of that, because I was struggling with the aforementioned waves.
Close race
Here's a finishing photo from race 1 in which I didn't sail. That's how close it is most of the time. Last night we were just around 10 boats on the course. Next saturday there will be 16. Whooohooo. It's gonna be a busy time on the RD boat. Very busy. I can hardly wait... It's gonna be some Fizz Cup. This course here calls for expert sailing. I may have hated the course yesterday, but truth is I love it because it is so difficult.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

It's J-day again

Another giant sailing beauty hits the waters of SL...
It's Ktaba's latest creation: The Maia. Words cannot describe this fantastic piece of virtual sailing art. It has to be seen and experienced in action.
There's like a billion details. Wires, ropes, winches and what's nuts, and since it's wooden it creaks like an old tree bending in the wind.
It's a fantastic machine. It's a magnificent ride. Thanx Craig. This is your best so far.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Expert Fizzin

What a day for some Fizz cruising... Despite the palms this is somewhere in the North Sea. We're trying out the Fizz with most of the quirky details. Started in novice mode, stepped up a few times and here we're in expert mode, and we're doing great.
Rev and me in the North Sea
It usually takes a bit of practice sailing like this. Two people balancing the boat, trimming a sail each by watching the telltails, - and adjusting the power. The jib has sheets and traveller, whereas the main has sheet and outhaul. Some find it challenging and can't get enough. Others find it to way too complicated.
I like
If you are so lucky as to have someone on board that "gets it", it's the funride of the month. Sailing the Fizz in expert mode requires teamwork or you'll be in the drink before you can spell coordination. This ride was so much fun, and we only got dipped once. Thanx Rev. I enjoyed every minute of it.