Putting the Wind in SL’s Sails

by Alphaville Herald on 29/07/05 at 10:46 am

by Eloise Pasteur

Racing the winds of Second Life

Last week, the Second Life Sailing Federation (SLSF) held its first large race, not around an island within a sim, but around islands over a route through several sims.

“So what?” you may be thinking. “Boats have been around in SL since the very early days, what’s so special about this?” Well, for the first time there is a sailing boat in SL that reacts to the winds, taking into account weather information from the Grid and matching it to the angle of the sails to simulate a more realistic sailing experience.

Two dozen people and especially the five helmspeople clustered nervously at the start line were about to discover just how well they could cope with sailing through eight sims or so in friendly rivalry with each other.

They’re off!

Sailing the Flying Tako, official race boat of the SLSF and brainchild of Kanker Greenacre, is not a simple case of pressing forwards, backwards, left and right, although you do use those movement keys. Left and right move the tiller, forwards and backwards adjust the sheets so you trim the sail to maximize your speed as you juggle the wind, the heading and, in this race, the need to navigate around the course.

The course

Beginning sailors enjoy themselves and their sailing, whether or not they’ve sailed in real life. People who have sailed in real life take a little while to adjust to lag and so forth, but take to the tactics of the races with a familiarity that suggests we’ve finally got a sailing vessel in Second Life that is as close to the real ones as we can get.

Unlike real life, however, sailing this boat is not the preserve of the rich. Not even the rich in SL. The Flying Tako is on sale in several places for the princely sum of $1 (check Gualala 105, 245, among other locations). That gets you a boat that brings the richness and fun of sailing and racing to your virtual world.

Approaching the first island

In fact, the Flying Tako is not just about racing. The helmsperson might not be in a position to be a great conversationalist, but the ride for the passengers is generally smooth, gentle and lets them see our world in a great new way. Even those at the helm see the world afresh as the wind tickles their cheeks.

Dinghy sailing in real life is a solitary exercise followed by a social one. Sailing in Second Life follows that trend too. After yesterday’s race, people mingled and chatted until gradually other commitments pulled them away.

So climb aboard. After all it’s your wind, your imagination.

Post-race festivities

2 Responses to “Putting the Wind in SL’s Sails”

  1. Aimee Weber

    Jul 29th, 2005

    I had a chance to go sailing (well learn). It was complicated but once you got the hang of it, it was a total blast! Kanker is a genius.

  2. Prokofy Neva

    Jul 29th, 2005

    This is really cool. I had a guy give me a lesson. It’s hard, especially if you don’t know RL sailing, but cool. There are challenges at sim seams but it seems to somehow be more worthwhile than trying to take your car around on roads.

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