Sunday, September 26, 2021
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Radio Sailing from Home!

VRMainPageMany of you will already know about Virtual Regatta but for those who do not and are going nuts at home, here's something for you to get some kind of sailing fix.  Sailing simulators are very like radio sailing, that is not on the boat, watching from the outside.  So for Radio Sailors this aspect of it should be familiar.

Sail racing simulators have been around for over 20 years so what is it about Virtual Regatta?  From Wikipeadia  "In 2015, the company developed Virtual Regatta Inshore, a fleet racing game (similar to that of car racing games), in partnership with World Sailing. This led to the first eSailing World Championship in 2018."

Last week I had a look, plenty of time now after all and I really wanted to go sailing.  Here is my experience so far.

Firstly and most importantly races are starting 24 hours a day.  A pool of thousands online feeds a continuous stream of races.  As soon as you finish a race you can start another.  It can quickly become very addictive.VRminusone

Initially you have all the go-fast features, time and distance to start line, Best VMG, Wind information, Lay Line etc.  Nice.  Then before you know it they are stripped away one by one.  WTF?  Then the first investment is asked for.  More on this latter.

About steering.  On my laptop the <- and -> arrows on the keyboard steer the boat but there is a delay sometimes and it is really really easy to over steer.  This can lead to loss of a few places or worse, a penalty which is enforced by slowing your boat down for a number of seconds.  The Best VMG feature is the most valuable as one press of the 'B' key will set your boat on the fastest course to the next mark, either up or down wind.  As well as the obvious of windward, when bearing away at the top mark you can press 'B' and the boat will round perfectly, fast, no problems.  But if you have not bought the features after a while, the wobbles can set in, too far one way then the other before you foul someone and your 3rd place turns into 13th.  So ok you think you are good enough to steer the boat without it, yes, with practice you can, but the handicap is noticeable when a boat with Best VMG smokes you at the next rounding.  My most common unforced error was hitting the bottom mark when rounding on 'manual' steering, luffing up and hitting the mark or another boat.

VRStartingThis company is a business; they did not build this so that if we get bored we have something to play with.  So if you are serious, you would best pay 9.99 Euro's for VRstarterPacka Starter Pack that is apparently half price.  You can still play on without paying though.  I would have preferred they were more upfront on the costs rather than progressively disclosing them after they have applied the same physiological techniques as used by the poker machine industry to suck you in.  The best examples are the little barrels presented to you at the end of each race.  Click on them and an animated sequence and sounds unscrews the barrel to show what tokens you have won.  Gets the endorphins going apparently, says the research, like Scratchies.  The green tokens can be used to buy features for the next race, the ones they took off you.  Personally the endorphins for me kick in at the start sequence, the little barrels are a bit 'dinky'.

The rules are the RRS and generally they are applied well, better than Radio Sailing anyway because they are instant and you can't argue.  There are some differences though.  Rule 18 is a bit patchy at the top mark and fouls inside the zone at the bottom mark are questionable.  I came into the bottom mark zone clear ahead on port and was pinged for a port and starboard when a boat screamed in late from starboard.  But I would say that wouldn't I.

On more than one day after sailing badly, getting smashed or being penalised for the second time for doing something stupid, then coming last, I shut the game in disgust swearing not to return.  Now that doesn't sound like Radio Sailing does it?  But the next day I would switch it on again and start another few races resolved not to give them my bank account details to buy stupid green tokens, "I can beat them anyway!"  But there are some seriously good sailors there from all over the world and many of them would have have invested.  I hight have to revise my stance.

Virtual Regattas are now big time with a recognised World Championship on offer, the first one was in 2018.  I recommend that any addicted sailor have a go at this 'sport' and form your own opinions.  I'm thinking of going back and having another go right now. 

This time I will nail the start!  I will!


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