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Virtual Clipper sailing 2015-2016 index

1 London to Rio

2 Rio to Cape Town

3 Cape Town to Albany

4 Albany to Sydney

5 Sydney to Hobart


7 Whitsundays to Viet Nam

8 Da Nang to Qingdao

9 Qingdao to Seattle

10 Seattle-Panama

11 Panama to NY

12 NY-Londonderry

13 Londonderry to Den Helder

14 Den Helder to Southend-on-Sea

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Fastnet race 2015

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Home > Miscellaneous > Sailing index > Clipper 2015-2016 Virtual race index > Leg 1:  UK to Brazil

Clipper 2015-2016 Round the World : virtual sailing race game

First leg from Southend-on-Sea, Essex, UK to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

I'm having a go at virtual Clipper sailing using https://www.virtualregatta.com I've invented a Clipper 70 boat called satsig.net with basic sails, otherwise known as "sans options". Anyone may take part for free using the internet. Go the Virtual Regatta web site, register with a boat name, email etc and get started on some race to get experience. The Offshore sailing races are quite different from the inshore races, so try both. The inshore races require skill and speed at pressing the keyboard. The Offshore races are at a slower pace by you spend much time doing frantic maths to calculate the best route and boat heading to use. Note that to sail upwind you have to tack (i.e. zig-zag) at 40-45 deg either way.  Similarly downwind, to get the best velocity made good (VMG) you need to gybe (i.e. zig-zag) at 40-45 deg either way.

You are encouraged to support the Virtual Regatta by paying to get your boat upgraded with better 'pro' sails plus the facility to program course changes in advance and to maintain steady true wind angle for a period of time. This saves adjusting the steering (heading) as the wind direction gradually changes.

During leg 1 from Southend-on-Sea to Rio, this page was modified, typically daily, to keep a log (or blog) of the progress of the BRITPACK 7 team of 8 boats.

Start of leg 1: 30/31st August 2015.

Watch video of the start of the race Clipper Round the World Race - Live Start from Southend, UK here:


Clipper 15-16 sailing race start Southend on Sea to Margate

At 5:12 pm , 4 hours after the virtual start the situation was as above.

The virtual start was Sunday afternoon, 30th August 2015. I watched from Southend at 13:00BST and could not see any big racing boats, except for the brown sails of several Thames barges towards Southend Pier. A couple of freighters chugged past and a number of smart blue coloured sails of Enterprise dinghies taking part in an event were evident.

The virtual boats all crossed the start far too early at 13:00BST, while the real boats were just leaving the dock 16 miles back at St Katherines Dock, London.

Actual boat timetable:

1400-1415 BST (1300-1315 UTC) Fleet blessing
1415-1500 BST (1315-1400 UTC) Fleet slip lines
1530-1615 BST (1430-1515 UTC) Tower Bridge opens for fleet to enter upper pool
1600 BST (1500 UTC) Tower Bridge reopens for fleet to start parade down Thames.

Start of the real race 12:15 on Monday at Southend in the rain!.

I hope that all the virtual boats don't have to turn round, go back and re-cross the starting line !

Beach just east of Reculver, Kent

Poseidonbreizh (green boat on the left) has gone to look for bits of the bouncing Upkeep bomb as dropped during testing for the Dambusters raid, on the beach just east of Reculver, Kent.

It is clear already that the boats with PRO sails are decisively ahead of those with BASIC sails. Bit sad to someone who has paid run aground, see the brown boat the bottom right, or maybe they are attending Westgate Platoon's annual memorial dinner..

Just a mile to go before turning south

Just a mile to go before turning south. The problem here is that if the 10 minute iteration does not get you quite far enough you overshoot by a mile or so in the next iteration.

Just missed the rocks

Phew !  Just missed the rocks but am now in 1400th place, having gained 1077 places in last hour.

It look like there are about 830 boats with pro sails.

Best wind angle now would be 142 deg

6:10pm: Best wind angle now would be 142 deg but I'm not sure about doing this now, I'm happy to trim up in 50 minutes at 7pm for best downwind VMG.

Intention now to proceed south

Intention now to proceed south then turn west after an hour or two.  Keeping in stronger winds and minimising risk of light winds near French coast tomorrow. My idea is to keep at best downwind VMG with wind angle 142 - 147 range.

Set up nicely for the night now till 7am tomorrow

Set up nicely for the night now till 7am tomorrow.  Just a short period en route with a bad wind angle up to 153 deg.

To get best speed with 120 deg wind angle

Decided to come left 5 deg to 245 deg since to get best speed with 120-125 WA.  Will turn left 10 deg after about 8 hours, 3pm. Somehow gained 452 places overnight doing nothing!

Pleasantly sailing along to the south of the Isle of Wight

Mid Monday morning - Pleasantly sailing along to the south of the Isle of Wight. Raining there and here in Essex !

Message sent to frmike1, Lady Phyllis May, Mullionman, Aberlady, posh tottie 2 and Wightcrusader.

"I've invented a sans options (SO) basic sails group called CLIPP1516 Britpack7
You are welcome to join.
Best regards, Eric."

qtvlm analysis for next 7 days

This qtvlm analysis run with 7 days, 1 deg squares, 12hr steps, GRIB plus Clipper 70 SO polars boat_clipper70so.csv. Clipper 70 polars for pro sails here: Clipper 70 AO polars boat_clipper70ao.csv

The 'best' route (for Rio) is shown in blue but it is going to take more than 7 days to get to Rio.  I can't find a forecast for more than 7 days. So situation need reviewing in a day or so as two possibilities diverge after Cape Finisterre, at the north west corner of Spain. I've highlighted the alternative in red.  It depends on where you want to be at 7th Sept 0525 as both lines end at the same date time.

Afternoon mid-course adjustment

Afternoon mid-course adjustment. I have just turned 10 deg left, to keep speed up over next 4.5 hours. It is possible to make small course adjustments without penalty but if you tack, gybe or change sails there is a penalty of 10% of the distance travelled in the 10 minutes after you make the change.

Two boats, Lady Phyllis May and michellej, say they will join the Britpack group called "CLIPP15-16 Britpack7" I have found that if you are not a member of a group and go to the group page you see a button marked APPLY. This button does not exist if you are the person who started the group or you are already a member.

Welcome also to Lady Phyllis May, michellej and Mullionman.

How the real boats are getting on

6:40pm Monday 31st:  Here is how the real boats are getting on.


Kames Bay now welcomed to the Britpack7 group

Monday 31 Aug 2015:  7pm. Turned left aiming to get past the corner ahead. Ideally just before the corner turn left further, perhaps between the islands. The AO (avec options) sails group is moving steadily ahead with a few late AO boats gradually passing through the SO fleet. I've tried to get mainly SO boats on my display.  Those nearer in the coast have slightly stronger winds in some places but have a poor wind angle throughout and thus poor speed approaching Ushant and the islands. 

8:50pm:  Aberlady and Kames Bay now welcomed to the Britpack7 group.

Hope to just miss the coast and pass through narrow gap in the islands

21:42pm Final adjustment, hopefully to just miss the coast and pass through narrow gap in the islands. Not to be done with real boats !!   Maybe up to 13.45 kts boat speed tomorrow at 5am with 18.9kt wind and WA=128 deg.

Several virtual boats have temporarily grounded around Ushant

Now around 14824 players. Several virtual boats have temporarily grounded around Ushant.

Plan for today. Continue on same 217deg course until WA reaches 145 deg, about 3:30pm, and then turn left a little once it reaches 194.

Boat laurencea, now just passing Ushant, has been added to the screen.

Wind is gradually changing direction ahead

Lunch time. Wind is gradually changing direction ahead, also getting closer to a downwind objective so I have turned right to put the  wind angle from 135 down to 125 so it can increase to 141 by 7pm.   Used my Clipper VMG calculator for the first time.

Set 136 wind angle

Tuesday 1st Sept: Just after 7pm.  Set 136WA which will increase to 149 later this evening. Review then.

Sent messages to Beowolf1 and wightcrusader asking if they wished to join group.

Gybed on to a due south course

Late evening, 10:40pm. Gybed on to a due south course. Not ideal wind angle but objective is to get into the stronger winds tomorrow between 4am and 7am, followed by stronger winds also after 7am. I expect to lose places tonight but gain tomorrow in stronger winds  - unless everyone else does the same.  

Looking forward to 16kt wind

Miles behind now but looking forward to 16kt wind in 2 hours time.

15421 competitors now.

Gybed to the right

9:55 am Gybed to the right, now aiming west and despite being in much stronger wind (16.8kt) still only managing 11.1kt boat speed. Disappointed, as I am going to be a long way back when passing the Cape Finisterre. Updated CLIPP1516 Britpack7 status and news. Trying to get 8 members if possible to make team.

Turned south.

Turned south. Over next 3 hours till 7pm wind will change 30.5 to 36.5, so wind angle from 139 to 145. This avoids changing course mid way. A PRO boat with auto wind angle would change gradually.

Off the coast of Portugal is promising

Looks like route parallel and 30miles to the coast off Portugal is promising. Pity it only goes 7 days ahead.

Aiming to tack downwind along highest wind strengths

Turned left to get further from the coast aiming to tack downwind along highest wind strengths.

Best speed so far at 14.5kt
Astonishing improvement in position.  Not sure why going west causes such benefit. Maybe it is not real !

Set off south east now in strong wind. Best speed so far at 14.5kt.

Lost around 1000 places

Rather as expected lost around 1000 places in last 3/5 hours.  Back on the other tack or is it other gybe ?

Intend to tack again at 2:30am if I wake up, to keep in strong forecast wind tomorrow morning.

Bizarre improvement in the ranking

Bizarre improvement in the ranking. Up 900 places.

Night of giant ziz-zags

After a night of giant ziz-zags, I have lost some2400 places, so it was not such a good idea after all !

Down a further 2400 places - worst so far
Now down a further 2400 places - worst so far.

Analysis of the two alternative routes
Analysis of the two alternative routes


Will continue straight ahead all night

At 7pm. Will continue straight ahead all night and probably turn left at 7am if the wind is from the north.

chart 4 sept 2015

4 Sept 7:10am Overnight the south group of boats, now 350m west of Gibraltar have had a steady night's sailing SW with a following northerly wind.  The westerly, leading, group went further WSW in the night and have now turned SW in nice 20kt easterly wind some 390 miles east of the Azores.

It's good to see everyone going in the direction of the objective for a change. Sailing races can be very confusing for the spectator - and me.

4 Sept 9:40am - I completed the team application for the Team Challenge:

The name of the team: CLIPP1516 BRITPACK7
- The name of the boat of the captain of the team: satsig.net
- The names of 6 other boats: Minzapint, flambouyant, Snaggletooth, Beowulf 1, Lady Phyllis May and Mullionman
- All SO without options.

16122 competitors now.

Navigation. The 1 deg squares are not square - unless you are near the equator

Mid morning 4th Sept.  Have shrunk the image sideways 81% to get better idea if the navigation. The 1 deg squares are not square - unless you are near the equator !

Aiming towards the coast to the east of the Cape Verde islands

Evening now and I'm aiming towards the coast, intending to turn left at 1am and proceed in straight line, for 7 days, approx 1300 miles, to the east of the Cape Verde islands, hopefully missing the African coast and the Canary Islands on the way. May take about 7 - 8 days since any time spend going exactly downwind is slow like so:

Clipper polars.

I'm off for a week so the virtual boat is going to have to sail itself on fixed trajectory for a while.  During the evening I aimed south east towards the coast and then set a course south west that would hopefully just miss the Canary Islands and the cape Verde Islands and also the Africa coast.

chart 13 Sept 2015

Horizon view
A week away.. miles and miles of it...it just goes on and on.. thank goodness for a compass when its cloudy all over or cloudy at night.


13th Sept 2015: Now back on line.  Just managed to miss the islands and Africa coast. Now sailing more hopefully on an optimised course south of Cape Verde Isles. Despite having set the spinnaker for last 7 days I am now down the rankings to a disappointing 8389th.

News on the BRITPACK 7 team:  Our application, called inscription, has been accepted. We have 7 boats in this first leg of the round the world series.  Aberlady is added now so we will hopefully have 8 boats for next leg. The 5 best results in each race count. We are 17th out of 27 teams as of 10th Sept.

Making some sensible progress

14th Sept: Making some sensible progress. Up from 8389 to 8250 position.

Further improvement

Yet further improvement, I'm up 140 places this afternoon, but still miles behind!.

Team Britpack7 position now up two places to 15th

Team Britpack7 position now up two places to 15th.



Close hauled this morning up to 11am

Nice winds for the side overnight, followed by close hauled this morning up to 11am. Position improved by 285 places so I am not complaining.  I need watch out at 1pm to turn left a bit as the wind changes to the south a bit. This is where an auto wind angle control would help! 18151 competitors now. New ones, starting now, set off from the yellow 'tow' boat on the orange line.

15th Sept afternoon. Kept turning left as the wind direction went further south, until wind was about 200 deg when it was coming directly from the direction I anted to go, so I tacked.

Close hauled, 39 deg wing angle

After 7pm kept to close hauled, 39 deg wing angle.

Several adjustments to keep wind angle between 40 and 50

After all night making several adjustments to keep wind angle between 40 and 50, each time reducing to 40 deg. Gained 546 places !

Lunchtime. 16th Sept.  Now settled on course of 204 and wondering if this is correct. My location is 3 15.5 N, 25 57W.  A point of the coast near Rio is 23S, 41 25W so working out the great circle bearing using my great circle calculator..

Great circle direction calculation results

So I should be going on bearing of 209 rather than 204. I've done that but is make no difference the speed, but improved the wind angle from 46 to 51 deg.  There is a slight peak in speed at 51 deg.

If the range is 1873 miles, the at 8.5kt it will take 220 hours or 9.2 days..

Now I'm going to find out how long it will take to get the others to get there. So obtaining a grib file for next 7 days weather. Feed this into qtvlm and input my lat/long location and also the lat/long location of Beowulf 1. See this:

Sailing routing analysis from two different current position starting points

According to this, Beowulf 1 will make Rio during 23rd Sept, a fraction over 7 days. The end point shown is just before the turn in to Rio.

Looking at the above I have decided to keep going south (wind angle nearer 40 than 50) for next 24 hours, then turn southwest tomorrow evening at 7pm.

The wind angle will gradually increase from 44 to 50

During the night the wind angle will gradually increase from 44 to 50, (wind 160 to 154)

Tried sailing south for 10 minutes but lost 5 places

17th Sept 8am. Tried sailing south for 10 minutes but lost 5 places so turned back to follow the general consensus. Now on 206 deg, 74 wind angle and 9.1kt.

chart 17 sept 2015

Sailing routing for last 7 days to Rio
satsig.net: a possible routing - should be there in just 7 days!


Turned south onto 185 despite what everyone else is doing as above suggests that it helps later on to to go westwards with more following wind.

To support our fishermen

5pm Thurs 17 Sept.  Just been down to a rally this afternoon at Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, to support our fishermen.  Good to hear Nigel Farage speaking out on the subject of sovereignty over our seas. It is about time we reclaimed our stolen seas out to the 200m limit and determined our own fishing quotas and fish stock recovery policies.

7pm: 17 Sept

An interesting experiment

This is going to be an interesting experiment. I've lost 33 places doing this, but will continue till 7am tomorrow. The wind is then forecast to change 128 to 120, so making a sw direction more attractive. It is debatable that the speed will be sufficiently higher to offset the loss tonight. Note all the other boats going sw.

The east group, Flambouyant, Mullionman, Aberlday and Minzapint have benefited by having the wind slightly further aft

18th Sept Friday afternoon: It is interesting to see how the east group, Flambouyant, Mullionman, Aberlday and Minzapint have benefited by having the wind slightly further aft over last few days. Also with winds further off the coast being stronger perhaps.


Steady on course 219 in the trade winds

Steady on course 219 in the trade winds.

Last night our server computer was physically moved from Reading to Enfield. The transition was completed successfully but getting the routing IP address moved and an optic fibre fault in the network elsewhere delayed the restart till about 9:30am.  All is well now. Well done VM hosting.

Still on heading of 219, plodding along

Still on heading of 219, plodding along. Shame the max speed seems to be only about 10-11 kts. Must be tempted to jump up and down to make it go faster.

BRITPACK7 Team status

BRITPACK7 Team status: Well done Minzapint and Snaggletooth, with Aberlady close behind (not scoring in this leg). I'm trailing a long way back, but have somehow gained 1765 places in the last 6 days.

Allowing to let the wind angle increase to 125

I'm allowing to let the wind angle increase to 125 and then plan to keep it in the range 124-126 till 7pm.

Wind angle for next 12 hours 118-120

7pm: Sunday 20 Sept. Wind angle for next 12 hours 118-120, keeping speed up but not allowing it to increase and thus get nearer the coast. Expect to gradually turn to due south over next 500 miles.

Merging gently onto the orange line course

21st Sept. 5pm.  On course 205, I'm just merging gently onto the orange line. I expect to follow similar curve as per the green line of another beat. By Wednesday I should be ready to gybe to the west, then later on Wednesday afternoon to gybe back onto due south before reaching the coast.

Boats having gybed to the west

Several boats can be seen above, having gybed to the west.

After 22 days at sea

Tuesday morning 22nd Sept 2015: After 22 days at sea, the first boats with 'pro' type sails are now arriving in Rio de Janeiro. 19225 competitors now in the virtual regatta race.

Lets have a look at how the real boats are getting on:

The real boats: The red one is LMAX EXCHANGE, followed by the yellow one QUINDAO

The red one is LMAX EXCHANGE, followed by the yellow one QUINDAO. The dark green one is GREAT BRITAIN, the purple one is DERRY-LONDONDERRY-DOIRE and the black one is GARMIN. The trails don't show the whole previous route so it is difficult to explain the way two groups have emerged.

An exciting phase of the virtual sailing race

22 Sept 7pm: An exciting phase of the race. Looks like snaggletooth leading with Minzapint and Aberlady close behind with favourable high winds. Close to the coast the wind speed drops. Mullionman is probably record breaking boat speed with 20kt wind; the highest so far this race to my knowledge and with possibly 14kts boat speed with 126 wind angle !

pause here for lack of internet  for a week or so ..

Approaching Rio

A bit tricky now. I am using an Android device with WiFi and since I'm out for long periods of time so having to aim carefully for last 39 miles. It is not easy aiming to get between close spaced islands when you can only set integer 1 deg increments in azimuth bearing setting.

Turning in towards the Rio finishing circle

Just back in the door and in time to turn in towards the Rio finishing circle. A bit of luck really - I could easily have gone sailing past while stuck in traffic round Edinburgh.


Finally got there to Rio.  Shame I came in last, in 4936th position but I did gain 73 places in last few minutes !


Now for a few days preparing for the second leg from Rio to cape town.

Team results of leg 1:

Team results of leg 1
This shows that our team came 23rd out of 27 teams in Leg 1.

Britpack Team results of leg 1
Summary of individual boat positions for BRITPACK 7 team.

This is interesting. It shows all the 110 sans-options (SO) boats participating in the teams. I've marked our boats in red.

Watch video commentary of 24 hours during the firsct gel from London to Rio here:

Finish: 24 Sept 2015

Link here to the log of the next leg 2 > Virtual Clipper RTW sailing race 2015-2015.  Leg 2 : From Rio to Cape Town

Page created 30 August 2015,amended 8 June 2021. (c) 2016 Copyright Satellite Signals Limited, All rights reserved.