Ten Minutes Before the Mast: Second Life Sailing Federation lays down the law

by Alphaville Herald on 19/09/05 at 5:44 am

by Budka Groshomme

In an effort to bring some measure of control to what was rapidly becoming a chaotic arena of competitive sailboat racing, the Second Life Sailing Federation (SLSF) has adopted parts of sailing’s official Right of Way (ROW) rules.

The ROW rules dictate that, based on the wind and your heading, you can’t deliberately cut someone else off or prevent them from making a needed maneuver. The Federation has supplemented the basic ROW rules with some special ones for SL – no editing, rezzing, or other mischief during a race and absolutely nothing that might crash the sim. A full set of ROW rules (and neat desktop models) can be found at the Starboards clubhouse at the Hollywood marina.

A second initiative is to regularly hold a series of sanctioned races or “regattas” at one of the Olympic racing courses established in Hollywood, Takes, and Destiny. All are equipped with automatic starting lines, turn buoys, and are avidly attended by a rowdy and rambunctious crew of sailors.
“Although the SLSF will strictly adhere to the Rules, we’ll relax them in races for beginners,” said Mark Twain White, one of the founding members during one of many Federation meetings.

During a regatta, sailboats race a set course three times, with the objective of finishing them in the least amount of total time. Each regatta will have three “legs” that require a turn at the end. Since the wind is consistent, the boats must run against, across, and ahead of the wind. What makes this so challenging is that the individual can choose whatever path they wish, so long as they round the next turn properly and follow the Rules.

SLSF races, which are regularly announced in Events, are open to everyone. There is no cost of entry but, then again, there isn’t anything to win either except the feeling of pride of having done something difficult extremely well.

The Federation hopes their initiatives will provide an enjoyable and competitive venue for SL sailing enthusiasts. The SLSF regattas are held using a single class of racing sailboat –-Kanker Greenleaf’s Flying Tako 2*. This is a simulator script that correctly mimics the behavior of a real world sailboat: Not only does the SL wind determine how fast and what direction the boat moves, but also how much the boat heels, and how it turns, which is about as much as a three meter boat would in real life. “I spent a lot of time tweaking parameters to get the feel just right,” explained Greenacre of his months-long efforts on the Tako.

Driving the simulation is a part of Greenleaf’s script that modifies the “really erratic, strange beast” that is SL wind. Kanker’s Olympic Wind script converts that wind’s wild swings of direction and impulses into something more dependable. Generally, this wind propels the boats at speeds up to five knots in winds up to seven knots (and sometimes more!)

Most of the Federation’s current members are real life sailors and all attest to the realism of Kanker’s simulation. Members not only spend time practicing, but also sail the waters of second life, going where the wind will take them, and savoring the peaceful sense of being one with the world, wind, water, and their boat.
Future builds in the Federation may be the creation of a second class of racer that is sleeker and faster. The Tako’s designer, Kanker Greenleaf, is currently working on two new simulations – a two-sail sloop.

*The Flying Tako, together with instructions and helpful hints, is available at Kanker’s dock in Gray for $1L and comes in both practice and racing versions.

4 Responses to “Ten Minutes Before the Mast: Second Life Sailing Federation lays down the law”

  1. MarkTwain White

    Sep 20th, 2005

    I was pleaed to read Budka’s article on the SLSF and wanted to add some information regarding sailboat racing in SL. Kanker Greenacre (he’s a whole “acre”, Bud, not just a “leaf”, grin) has done a wonderful job harnessing the very volatile and unrealistic wind in SL and made it into wind we can control for realistic sailing conditions. I have tried many sailing simulators and it is amazing how well sailboat racing in SL compares to the dedicate simulators I have tried.

    As to the state of ROW rules in SLSF, they are in flux as we try to find the best solution for skippers of varying skill levels. In coming days you will see three types of regattas in Hollywood sim, the current regattas using ROW rules will be “A Fleet” Regattas. We also plan to host “B Fleet” Regattas that use almost no ROW rules at all. Think of bumper boats. Hollywood and Starboard Yacht Club (open enrollment) also hosts Little Critter races using Kanker’s Tiny Takos sailboats designed for just for the furry little sailors.

    MarkTwain White

  2. Cocoanut

    Sep 20th, 2005

    Oooo, sounds fun, Mark! I need to stop just working all the time and go there for some fun sometime. As a Tiny would befun!


  3. Hans Zinnemann

    Jan 24th, 2008

    Over the last few years other classes of second life sailing yachts have been actively raced including the Flying Fizz, America’s Cup Class, larger Trudeau yachts and of course our very own Zinnemann 40 catamaran.

  4. Dave Bell

    Mar 18th, 2010

    Sailing in SL seems to have exploded, with the appearance of the Blake Sea and other large water areas. Racing, cruising, and pirate battles. It’s all happening.

    There’s still occasion to be grumpy about people being awkward with banlines and building, leading to awkward gaps for both “real-wind” sailors and motor-craft to navigate. But there is a lot of usable space and, mostly, the problems get sorted out.

    Places such as the Blake Sea are also good for aviation.

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a treasure chest to bury. Yo-ho-ho.

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