This is my report on the recent round Britain Class 40 virtual sailing race organised by VirtualRegatta.com If you want to try a similar offshore race go to Virtual Regatta and select something suitable. You can enter first for free with basic boat to get the idea. Paying is good and you can get better sails and navigation waypoints etc if you like the game. The advantage of a virtual game is that you don't get cold and sea-sick, but you do sometimes have to spend time at night navigating round close shorelines, otherwise you are liable to run aground !.
Above image screenshot shows and overview of the 1800 nautical miles race, after I had finished. My course is the brown line. A friend of mine is the green boat approaching Dover
I had an email from Virtual Regatta telling me about the start, but I missed the start. The official start was noon on Sunday 12th August at Cowes going east. This virtual race appears to have started opposite the Needles, to the west of the Isle of Wight. So, I came late to this race, joining the fun when the fleet had mostly reached the south west coast of Ireland, near the Fastnet Rock. When you join late you are placed about the middle of the fleet.
The real race is for Class 40 sailing boats. Read here for details and the real results: https://www.class40.com/en/courses/171-seventar-round-britain--ireland-race.htm
Class 40 boats for sale here: https://www.yachtworld.co.uk/boats/category/type/Class+40
RORC details of the real race http://roundbritainandireland.rorc.org/ and sponsor Sevenstar YACHT transport. To follow the race they had this page http://roundbritainandireland.rorc.org/news/822-how-to-follow-the-race which gives useful links to the live feed of the start and progress reports of the competitors.
My starting position was therefore 8979 out of some 12,500 boats. I worked my way up the west coast of Ireland and around the outside of the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. Gradually my position improved to 4390. Passing round Muckle Flugga at the north of the Shetland Islands I was up to 2740. Then down the North Sea, slowing down somewhat with lighter 6 kt winds opposite the Thames Estuary.
The last 170 nautical miles (approx) down the English Channel to Cowes, Isle of Wight was slow going, under 6 knots, tacking against the light winds all the way. This was quite complicated using true wind angles varying from 46 deg with 4.5 kt wind to to 39 deg with 6.8 kt wind. You need to keep a close eye on the polars and make sure at each wind speed you have the best sail, Jib or Light Jib. It is also complicated by the fact that the wind was slightly stronger offshore and also from slightly different direction. This is where clever computer routing software come into its own, but it only makes a slight difference overall, but that matters if there are hundreds of boats with less than a mile between them. the slightest mistake, such as changing a sail unnecessarily, and you lose hundreds of places.
The image above shows my final approach to the finish at Cowes. I have just tacked, having turned left, aiming to cross the circular finish line just ahead of me. The wind angle shown is 43 deg, which is not optimum. I was sailing slightly too close to the wind.
Celebrations at the finish after 9 days of sailing. They give you a fireworks welcome and certificate, even if you arrive at about 1900th place !
Recommended: Go to Virtual Regatta and participate in some race for fun.
You can get the polars here: http://toxcct.free.fr/polars/ Select Races archived and choose Round Britain
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Page last amended 22 August 2018