Thursday, 30 October 2014

Competition in Ocean Sailing Races

 It is a busy time for Ocean Sailors, even for Virtual Ocean Sailors.

The VolvoOceanRace has started some weeks back and only sailing in Leg 1 towards Cape Town and another historical Ocean Sailing Race is starting.

The historical Route du Rhum is starting on Sunday 2nd November 2014 at 1300 GMT from Pointe du Grouin, France.  The Finish is location in the Caribbean on Guadeloupe.

For Virtual Sailors it will be a real competition as well, as also the Route du Rhum has a virtual sailing player to sail alongside your favorite Real Sailors. You can compete with the best sailors in the Route du Rhum by following their tracks, or if you feel confident you may pass your favorites and beat them to the Finish in Guadeloupe. 

This will be a real competition for the VORG player, as this LiveSkipper player is coming with more modern features, better navigational tools, a higher accuracy to set your course and apart from the Ultime race in the Trimaran, it is completely free; inclusive multiple sails, auto-heading, Waypoints and .............a good scheduler. A detailed LiveSkipper wiki is a good help, if you would get lost or when you want to optimize your sailing skills.

Virtual Sailing Route du Rhum

And the competition goes on. 

The Route du Rhum is sailed by different types of Boat, contrary to the VolvoOceanRace, where this year for the first time all Boats are identical, the OneDesign VO65; see the details under TAB BOAT in the top of my blog.

The attractive part for virtual sailors is, that in Route du Rhum virtual player, you have a choose from 3 boats, monohulls, Class 40 and Imoca60 and the super fast Maxi XXL Trimaran. So if you are interested (and can find the time ) you may compete with yourself in 3 different boat-types all sailing the Route du Rhum sailing race, alongside the fleet of Real Boats in the Route du Rhum.

To follow the race you can look at the website of Route du Rhum.

Route du Rhum website

OK, now over to the VolvoOceanRace, where also a fierce competition is fought by the 3 leaders in the VOR fleet. Vestas Wind, sailed a more westerly course over the last days and now it shows that it has paid out: Vestas is within a Nm of both Abu Dhabi and Brunel, this morning report tells.
It is amazing that after sailing for almost 2 weeks ,  almost half the fleet is with some 2Nm of each other.

The St.Helena High is growing and moving more South, this may have surprised Brunel and AbuDhabi but somewhere Vestas Wind had a good feeling and now closed the gap that existed since the Cape Verde Islands. 

This will become a very interesting final to the Finish in Cape Town.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

VolvoOceanRace improves their Website!

VolvoOceanRace organisation has listened to the comments of their website visitors and has improved their VolvoOceanRace website, on top of that VOR has announced more improvements to come.

This is very good News and indeed signals that VOR cares about their passionated followers. It listens to the comments and when recognised the strengths and correctness of comments, implements to let the arm-chair sailors enjoy their Website even more. 

The 2 improvements that I noticed is the improvement on the main page with the addition of some Keywords, dates, and symbol for document,video etc in the tiles, that before were nice meaningless flipping pictures. At least now it can be seen easily, what tile to click to get more details on that subject, be it that I still prefer a chronological list  for the video's and documents; like Youtube has and also you can find in my blog under the VIDEO tab on top. 
The 2nd improvement on the content of the Watch Log. Now I learn a lot more on the Boats performances, strategies and most of all an interesting view on the situations ahead with the forecasted wind systems. Kudo for this improvement, which is now becoming a real competition with Mark Chisnell weekly blog

What is more to come?

A more pronounced place for the information on the Race. It sounds that simple. The VolvoOceanRace is a "RACE", and the most important information at this time of the event is the race-information: dashboard, wind-data, watchlog, prewies and leaderboards both for the present Leg as for the Overall VOR event.
Till now the data is hidden, difficult to find or not existing. 

In a Sailing Race, what is it that You want to know?
  • What route to sail, with important milestones, marks
  • What Boat to use
  • What Teams participate
  • The progress of the Race once started
All is on the Main Page VOR Website on the Top Menu, indeed,.....except RACE. 

So here is my proposal 
RACE get its own Place on the VOR web
Under the  RACE button, one should find all information relevant to the progress of the VolvoOceanRace, for the actual Leg as well as for the Overall Classification.  Such as the info , mentioned above. 

The VolvoOceanRace Website has a simple Dashboard, too simple imho. It also has a VirtualEye dashboard that is far better and compares to other sailing tracking screens, e.g. Volodiaj Tracking/
VOR should consider either to do away with the simple Dashboard and only have the VirtualEye, which might give some problems for weaker computers and tablets (?) as it requires to not common Unity add-on, or to make some relevant improvements on the Dashboard. 

Improvements, wind direction, wind vanes on screen, relevant wind pattern
 My proposal is to replace the Seawater Temperature in the bottom right Weather box by the Wind Direction of the leading Boats. The Wind direction makes Sailors understand the race and make boats win or loose distance; the Sea Temperature is nice to know but does not contribute to  the Boat preformances. If it is to give some scientific tint on the website, I would propose to add the Wind Direction and Sea Water salinety data. 
This box shows also an animated wind pattern around Alicante ? That is not at all relevant once the Boats sail in the Southern Atlantic. So I propose, forgive me the rough cut-out in the image above but I am sure VOR webmaster can do a better job, a dynamic wind pattern centred a little ahead of the Leaders of the VOR Fleet. Anymation is nice, but eat bandwidth and could be static image of wind systems that is updated with the 3hrs update on the Leaderboard. 

What I as armchair sailor do miss, is the coordinates for the Boats? Not in the Dashboard, not even in the detailed information if you click on the Boats. Yes, I know it is available , hidden in the details of the Boats in the Virtual Eye. 

I propose to make boat coordinates visible in the Boat details in the Dashboard as well .

Boat Coordinates added

 This is just my contribution to help in improving the VolvoOceanRace Website. Now doubt other site-visitors have other or better ideas. As VOR has indicated that the Website needs improvements and have shown to listen to comments, I invite You to come forward with your good proposals to VOR org., such that together we can make the VolvoOceanRace Website a better One.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

First VolvoOceanRace Boats pass Fernando de Noronha mark

     This morning I learned that 3 Boats have passed the one and only Mark on     VolvoOceanRace Leg 1 on Fernando de Noronha. 

First Boats rounding Fernando de Noronha

The 1st Boat to pass was Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing. She had build a small lead over the last days and was about 14 Nm ahead of the 2nd Boat.

The 2nd Boat to pass was Team Brunel, chasing AbuDhabi and with a long distance to sail, still has all options to finish as first.

The 3rd Boat to pass was Team Vestas Wind, with a more Easterly course made big gains over last days, but trailed about 40-50 Nm on the leaders . Looking at the Dashboard on 24 October 21:55 gmt, see image above, I do wonder however whether Vestas did pass Fernando de Noronha Mark on the correct side. Please check as it would be too bad to get a dsq in Cape Town. 

Sail on, the rest of the fleet is closing in , with a spread of only 102.5 Nm at midnight. The big startegical play in the Southern Atlantic will be the navigation around the St. Helena High, an area of High pressure with fierce winds around it that almost always exists, but to make this part of the Leg 1 a challenge, is relocating itself and moving. A good strategy how to pass this High , might bring you Victory in Cape Town, a wrong strategy, however, might drop  you down in the Leaderboard. Fair winds

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

OneDesign VO65 already a Success!

The idea behind the OneDesign VO65 Boats that are sailing in the VolvoOceanRace 2014-2015 (and btw also proposed for the next VOR 2018-2019), is now already proving a success. With OneDesign boats, all skippers have the same Boats equipped with the same sails etc. , such that the capacities of the skippers and their sailors become more important in the results in the Sailing Race, as all Boats have in principle the same capabilities.

Bird-view on VOR fleet 21 Oct. 0700 GMT

The image above shows the VOR-Boats after just over 7 days sailing. The OneDesign for sure is a reason that the spread in the fleet is that small, 2 Boats within 10 Nm, 6 Boats within 40Nm.
This has brought many, many lead changes already; Each Boat has sailed already some time in the Lead of the fleet, and boats in the Lead have dropped to the End; be it that SCA is trailing already for last days.  It brings in any case a lot of excitement as each morning it is a question which Boat will be in the Lead.

All Boats have followed the same strategy and are together of all the Race already. Or could the OneDesign, be a reason for the skippers to stay together? What You think on that?

Maybe the skippers fear a deviation from the pack, as they know that boat performances are identical which would promote staying together as small gains can be made in same winds, but large losses might be suffered in different winds, with little options to catch up? Think on this again, in different winds you might also make big gains on the others .

Fair winds, Goede Vaart, and skippers now you have learned the Boats a little better and seen the performance of the other participants, now it will be the brave that make a different strategy. The Doldrums approaching on the horizon, is a good place to try it out =:)

Friday, 17 October 2014

VolvoOceanRace website stumbles behind Microsoft.

Over the last week, I am looking at the VolvoOceanRace website, for relevant information for my sailing hobby, including the Virtual sailing game(VORG). 

First thing that reflects is the New Design of the VolvoOceanRace website. 

The New VolvoOceanRace Website

What do You think of this New VolvoOceanRace website? 

I think it is terrible bad, irritating and with a lack of information for sailors. 

The most irritating to me is the large flipping tiles, that contain no clue what it the story behind it, until you move your mouse over it. I wonder how people with a touch screen have to use this, move your finger all over the screen to search for something that could be of interest? It reflects clearly a blind following of Microsoft O.S. with their failed Windows 8 version. Well in case VolvoOceanRace organization is not aware, Microsoft have thrown the towel in the ring and abandoned their W.8 tile design. In the announced new version Windows 10, the better Start menu re-appears such that a computer becomes again a productivity tool. The tile-pictures are very little informative as to what sits behind those tiles. 
My first thought was: a “keyword” written on the tiles would be a great improvement already. Can that be done? 

VolvoOceanRace Website: Articles

YES, as when you have found the folder with Articles, suddenly you see that the tiles have names and a short description; that helps already a lot in useless flipping over all the tiles before you find what you are looking for; and VOR themselves show the improvement already. 

VolvoOceanRace org., take an example on Microsoft, who turned away from the tiles only design and VOR change your Website, asap, to a better design; than the 2014-15 Website would be a huge improvement already. 

As a sailor, I open the VolvoOceanRace website, on-going now, to read on the status of the VO65 Boats race, their position, their coordinates, the wind situation both strength and direction, some story on the sailing done, and analyses of progress; hopefully also some views on which boats have better strategies with the wind forecasts, though all Boats till now have same strategy and sail close together. However, the New VolvoOceanRace website lacks the basic information on their own VOR Sailing Race. There is no button on the main menu for the status of the Race, some information can be found hidden under a menu icon, like the dashboard and watch log. The watch log is a daily description of the Boat performances, but with very little analyses and explanations; Mark Chisnell writes a far better sailing report. 
The menu FOLLOW, is a wrong name as it does not follow the Boats, nor the Race, but gives only some links to Social Media. 

There is still space for an extra Menu button, called RACE, which could include both the dashboard, the watch log and the virtual eye even a Leaderboard for the Overall Ranking. 
On the status of the Boats there is only one place that offers most of the information and that is the Virtual Eye, which you can find by clicking the “Full Tracker” on the dashboard screen. 
This virtual eye offers all a sailor needs, be it that the coordinates of the boats are deep hidden in the details, that open only when a boat is clicked on. The Virtual Eye gives further indeed a lot of information, on wind, isobars, and currents . The list of Boats suggest that the order is from top to bottom without an indication. Showing the % of completion in a Leg is not very information, I would prefer to see there the DTLC, it is a race for points in the end. 
The simple dashboard has no real information, apart from the order of Boats and DTLC, but no coordinates, no information on wind direction only wind strength; well sailing is all about wind, both strength and direction and a forecast to make some interesting proposals for heading and sail choice; nothing of this in the dashboard. Yes the Temperature of sea-water, nice info but not required to win a sailing race. 

A leaderboard is missing, at least so far I have not found one, did You? The only table I have seen is on Youtube, a minute at the end of the Alicante In-Port race. 

Is there anything Good at all? Yes, there is. 
The page on TEAMS is informative and looks complete with proper details on the team, links to their own websites and information on the Team-sailors. 
Also the information on the BOAT, with links to video's during the construction phases is very interesting and informative. 
The ROUTE button shows a view on the route for the whole VOR 2014-15. A click on either a Leg or an In-Port race will bring some new screen with details on the Leg or In-Port city and race. It could however be better, as the Map on Route Leg1 is in-complete as an essential sailing mark at Fernando de Noronha is missing. Luckily that Mark is indicated on the dashboard, where also a Mark at Gibraltar is shown, that again is not an official mark in the race. 
To end with a positive note, the HISTORY menu brings a time-line that offers a lot of details of interesting information of the VolvoOceanRace, starting with the Whitbread races. 

I hope that VolvoOceanRace organization wakes up and brings some improvements to their website and follow Microsoft again to do away with the irritating tiles and improves the information so much interesting for Sailors. It is not too late, as the VOR is not a week on, and it will make a lot of Sailors much happier followers of your VolvoOceanRace Website. 

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Changing of the guards in VOR fleet.

The VolvoOceanRace has sailed already one day into the Atlantic and all Boats area still in each eye-sight, not further than 10Nm apart at one time. 

Many times the leader has changed from one Boat to the other Boat. I think that by now each boat has at least once sail ahead of the fleet, be it only 1 Mile. When a boat is in the front of the fleet, suddenly the next day she is in the back and reverse. It shows that aye) the navigators choose the same strategy and bee) the OneDesign VO65 set pretty much the same performance. 

I hope that this is a sign that we may expect very close battles in coming days, weeks and months, such that this will become a very exciting VolvoOceanRace 2014-15. 

All Boats till now sail the African coast on the same strategy.
Virtual Eye shows the Boat , 15 October

Winds will most likely let them sail east along the Canary Islands and after that it is a question, whether winds allow them to head already to the West and pick up the Trade winds, or whether they sail further South and come close to the Cape Verde islands, before heading West.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

VolvoOceanRace 2014 Started

The VolvoOceanRace 2014-2015 has started from Alicante and heading to Cape-Town via Fernando de Noronha.
First the 7 Participating Boats sailed a starting circuit close to Alicante harbour and fought for positions to head into the Open Water.
starters circuit in Alicante

Brunel and SCA had a good start, but Abu Dhabi fought back. Ventas Wind made an early start and had to return , loosing valuable time.
Brunel kept the lead, though Abu Dhabi at one point sailed a short while in front. SCA lost some places with the 2-3 marks and Ventas recovered the distance.
A recap video of this start is available and a link can be found in my video tab as well. Luckily, and I believe the VOR has listened to the many complaints on the voice of the one commentator, the commentators were better; once improvement more and they could be acceptable to listen to.

The boats can be followed via a tracker, hidden in the VOR website but you can find it under the top-most right menu icon. Again the tracker in the VOR website is not that good, shows to little details of interest for sailors, but the Virtual eye tracker is a lot better. With some clicks on the boat, you can even find the coordinates of the Boats sailing.

Today hopefully will be possible to pass Gibraltar and enter the Atlantic Ocean. The strategic plan will start than as to how to circumfence the Azoren High, how to use the Trade winds to its best and where to cross the Doldrums.

I did found and interesting blog on this VOR 2014-15 written by Mark Chisnell, he is the writer of the book Spanish Castle to White Night, the story of the VOR 2008-2009.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

START of VOR 2014 Saturday 11 October 1200 GMT

Today, Saturday 11 October 2014 at 12:00 GMT(which on VOR is called 14:00 CES), it is said that the VOR 2014-2015 will start in Alicante, Spain.
Map of start circuit in Alicante(pending windshifts)

At the start the 7 Participating Boats will sail a starters circuit before heading into the wide waters of the Mediterranean Sea, on Leg1 to Cape Town, via Fernando de Noronha.
You can follow the start live, on the VOR website

With all other things that are not good in the VOR2014, again VOR makes a mistake. See the VOR route map , which is the Wrong Leg 1 route on VOR web-site

The correct route for VOR2014 Leg 1 is here
Corrected route for VOR 2014 Leg 1
A mark on the Brazilian island of Fernando de Noronha, has to be kept on Port side; unbelievable that VOR is not able to show a correct route map, which shows the most important route elements.

Anyway here it is and many more information, you can find on my blog under the TAB's above. Enjoy my blog.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Tomorrow START VOR 2014

Tomorrow, Saturday 11 October 2014 at 12:00 GMT, the VolvoOceanRace (VOR) 2014-2015 will start from Alicante. First the 7 participating Boats will sail a departure circuit, before heading to the Open Waters for Leg 1.

Alicante In-Port race: a fierce battle

Leg1 of the VOR2014, which has in total 9 Legs, will sail from Alicante(Spain), via Fernando de Noronha(Brazil) to Cape Town (South Africa).

In my blog, I will follow the progress of the VOR fleet as well as the progress of my own virtual sailing boat in LiveSkipper, the best virtual sailing player on the web.

I try to gather information from the VOR race and present it here, as (I think) the VOR website is a disaster compared to last VOR-edition to find any relevant information for sailors.
The Tabs on top of the page lead you to the route, some details for the VO65 Boat, the teams, shows a map with daily progress and a collection of links to video's from In-Port and Leg races.

In the bottom of my page, you will find a count down to the start of the next event.