Going offshore on your couch

Published on March 4th, 2021

Maybe it’s too cold, or you’re missing your full allotment of jabs, or the phone hasn’t rung for crew gigs. None of that matters, says yacht designer Bruce Nelson, who is encouraging the Scuttlebutt community to line up against his Rhino in an upcoming virtual race to be held in southern California. Here’s his pitch:


Come test out your tactical navigation skills by entering the Virtual Islands Race on Sailonline.org. The 142 nm course begins in Los Angeles and extends around Catalina and San Clement Islands enroute to the finish in San Diego, and the virtual platform provides a great simulation of live racing where you compete against the actual fleet in real time.

Check out the introduction at the Islands Race website, then click on the link to register a username (boat name) and password, then go to the Islands Race and get warmed up navigating your TP52 with the realistic polars and wx grib files (refreshed every six hours) by the sailonline platform.

The start time (March 5, 1300 PST), race course, and wx grib files mirror the race conditions so you will be matching wits in real time with the navigators onboard the 52s in the race and compare your performance with their position from the tracker.

You have the choice of ‘steering’ via Heading or TWA commands and the ability to set Delayed Commands to maintain best performance while having dinner – the platform has a number of cool features for scrolling ahead in the wx grib files and projecting your track based on the steering commands entered, so be sure to read the helpful links under the Misc tab and save your favorite settings.

And there’s a highly informative chat room where you can ask questions and gleam insights from the pros. This is a totally free exercise (aside from the time invested once hooked) where one can compete and learn tactical navigation (routing) from the comfort of your living room couch (or at the bar on the phone app).

So that’s my challenge to the Scuttlebutt readers – while we’re waiting for the America’s Cup to begin, get busy online and have some fun competing against the fastest fleet in Southern California, as well as some top virtual navigators. It will be fiercely competitive, so bring your A-game!

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