Virtual Race

A Melbourne to Osaka Cup Virtual race was conducted on Sailonline across April with a large fleet starting on April 2nd. Here are a selection of Facebook posts from Race Director Martin Vaughan who followed the race closely.

April 26: As the first boats cross the finish line the rest of the fleet make their approach to Osaka Bay. Unlike the real race where the planned approach takes into account the current, for the on line race its more about avoiding light air. We found in the 2013 race there was very light air, particularly in the inner harbour – plus plenty of ships and fishing boats to dodge.

Meanwhile after so many days at virtual sea, keeping the concentration up and minimising distractions is the greatest challenge. As we aren’t stuck on a boat, the opportunity for other things, such as camping in the Coffs Harbour hinterland (well out of internet range) may have played a factor in the author’s race performance. Fortunately there is a good auto-helm and nothing to hit so all good.

Well done to the top third of the fleet, great effort. Not sure which ones were actual race entrants but Rod Smallman got a very respectable 16th and Australians got 3 of the top 4 places.

April 19: As the virtual Melbourne to Osaka yacht race enters its third week, the fleet starts to spread out. With the race leaders now half way across the Northern Pacific riding the NE trade winds, the back of the fleet is still battling the light winds of the doldrums.

In real life the NE trade winds are a welcome relief from the light and fluky winds of the Solomons and the Doldrums. With cracked sheets once again there is the chance to catch up on maintenance and some sleep. The food situation starts to become a little more of a challenge, with fresh fruit, vegetables and meat a distant memory. Its now creative cooking from dried food, a can or those packets of pre-cooked meals if you are lucky. Skippers would be taking stock of fuel and water, more of an issue on the slower boats. In real life skippers would be pondering the Kuroshiro current, in the 2013 race we saw 4+ knotts against us, some competitors even went backwards !!

Meanwhile in the virtual race, although I have slipped well back in the fleet I am pleased to say the autohelm is working well and the catering is fantastic, as is the watch system.

April 14: The first of the boats has crossed the equator, a special time in all sailors lives if they get the chance. With a toast to King Neptune there is usually a ceremony to look forward to as you watch the GPS clock the 0.00 Latitude.

Meanwhile in the virtual race we get to take race lines through islands you wouldn’t dream of taking in real life. As the leaders reach the new stronger winds the folk further back will have to battle another day or so of light and fickle winds.

Fortunately in real life we have other fun things to do, being Easter and all. Enjoy !!


April 6: Update from the virtual race. The Open 40 has performed flawlessly, with no problems reported so far. In real life the maintenance chores would have started as the trade wind sailing kicks in. Typically lasting for 1-2 weeks (depending how lucky you are) so it becomes time to catch up on some sleep, cooking and chores, with easier navigation to the East of the current while those staying West paying a bit more attention.

For the virtual race there is a definite split between competitors hugging the coast and those heading off shore for better winds. In real life the track taken by many would have serious current issues, but without current the direct course pays off in the virtual world. Well done to the leaders – those who are paying attention are doing well. Us intermittent folk are dropping back a little as responsibilities of real life take their toll.

April 4: In the virtual race most of the fleet has now rounded Gabo Island. Its interesting to see where some stay inshore, in what looks like lighter winds, while others head to stronger wind off shore. In the real race the East Australian current would be a major factor as you consider the knocking effect of it, the reverse eddies and of course wind over tide effects.

Interesting observation last night with one competitor showing me their very sophisticated computer modelling and weather routing technology they are using. Its quite a difference to my gut feel approach “looks a bit stronger off shore, think I will head out for a bit”. Anyway the autohelm is working well, another good nights sleep.


April 3: Night one of the virtual Osaka race and I must say it is quite exhausting. The first day of the race is always tricky with a number of turns as you head around Cape Schank and Wilsons Prom. Added to that was changing wind speeds and directions which meant you needed to predict a course and provide regular changes. Most of the fleet are around Wilsons Prom now so its settled into a bit of a drag race. Tactics/Nav option A is to set the alarm, log on and review/change regularly during the night. Option B is to predict the next 8 hours, provide future changes then head off to bed and hope. Suffice to say I chose Option B.