Top Three Tips: Virtual Regatta Inshore

Due to the current situation Virtual Regatta Inshore Racing has had a massive rise in popularity. With eSail GP events and the RYA eSailing Spring Club Championship bring a lot of attention to the app. Many sailing club and racers are taking to the virtual waters until normal sailing can resume.

This highly addictive, fun game is one of the best ways to beat boredom but also develop your sailing skills. With simulated shifts and pressure patterns alongside racing against other sailors in real time, lots of fast paced tactical and strategical decision making is the key to success.

But other than a being a tactical genius how can us mere mortals gain an advantage compared to our friends and get a few top race results over the next few weeks?

  1. Know the different classes.
  2. Know which “Race Helps” to use
  3. Risk vs Reward

Hopefully this post is going to help you out on the virtual race course, giving you a few tips to get you in front of your friends. Let me know if you think there is any thing else that should be added to the list!

3. Know the different classes.

Unlike conventional racing, you are probably going to be switching between different classes of boat each race. So, its important to know how the different boats react and key challenges for each.

Below are a few key points for each class:

49er – High boat speed and acceleration.  Quick through manoeuvres, lots of tacking and gybing battles. Average sailing angles and lay lines. A fast hoist at 2.5 seconds.

Star – Slow speed, acceleration and through manoeuvres. Very high sailing angle and narrow lay lines. Large wind shadow directly downwind when sailing down wind, which means lots of covering! No Spinnaker.

Offshore Racer – Slow speed and acceleration. High sailing angles and narrow lay lines. larger spinnaker with a 5 second hoist. Big wind shadow.

Day Boat Racer– Medium speed and acceleration. Relatively fast through manoeuvres. Average sailing angles and lay lines. Smaller spinnaker with a 3 second hoist.

Nacra 17 – High Speeds, foils downwind at above 17 knots. Quick to gybe but slow to tack. Low sailing angle and wide lay lines. Genoa hoist in 2.5 seconds.

Formula 18 – Very similar to Nacra 17 but larger. Only foils above 19 knots and spinnaker hoist takes 2 seconds.  Big wind shadow.

F50 – Very large and quick! Foils at all points of sail, at above 20 Knots, and through most tacks and gybes. No spinnaker and high boat speed mean very little wind shadow. Normally sailed on a Sail GP Course, reaching starts and upwind gates.

2. Know which “Race Helps” to use.

Unless you have purchased credits via the app store, or you are a subscribed VIP Member, you don’t want to burn through your tokens buying all the “Race Helps” for every race. So, knowing which ones you want to prioritise and use is important.

My top pick would be “Best VMG”, this gives you a little green button that allows you to sail at the best angle to the wind, both up and down wind. This allows you to concentrate on looking for any gains around the racecourse and not sailing into other people! I also use this button at marks, allowing me to either head up or bear away to the perfect point every time.

Another important one to choose is the “Wind shadow” help, especially when using some of the slower classes of boat. This is because there is often a lot of covering and gybing battles downwind in these classes. The wind shadow makes it far easier to see if you’re in a clean lane or not.

The other Race Helps defiantly have their merit, and in an ideal world I would use all of them. But these two are the ones I think I would prioritise other the others. However, these are all a personal preference, so see which help suits your needs.

Race help page

1. Risk vs Reward

Unlike its predecessor, SailX, Virtual Regatta uses a in game penalty system which slowly boats down for a given time if they break a rule. This amount of time increases if you break multiple rules during the same race. This is one of the games best features, as it completely takes the protest forum section of the game away, meaning sailors can just forget about it and enjoy sailing.

However, the automatic system often gets it wrong and often doesn’t allow for Rules 14, 15 and 16 regarding avoiding contact, acquiring right of way and changing course. This means that there is often a very high penalty count at windward and leeward marks.

My number one tip is to know when to risk a penalty and when not to risk a penalty. Often the leaders of the race would have gotten around the first lap or even the whole race with no penalty at all. If you can see that thee is going to be a large bunch of boats rounding a mark at the same time, sailing past and around them can often bring large gains later on.

On the other side to that sometimes its worth the risk. And before you throw the rule book at me shouting rule 2, I know that going into a situation, knowingly breaking a rule and gaining from it is not okay. But if there is a gap when you’re coming in on the port lay line but there is no option to duck, taking that risk is probably going to be worth it and with virtual sailing there is not going to be a nasty insurance claim!

Hopefully these tips are going to help you out on the virtual race course, giving you a few tips to get you in front of your friends!

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