WildWind is known for making fast and furious boats in the Secondlife sailing scene. After being mostly known with Japanese sailors, the advance in 2008 of the VOJ-70 and especially the RCJ-44 made WildWind’s owner Corry Kamachi well-known by European and American sailors as well. The RCJ-44 especially was quickly adopted by virtual sailors around Secondlife.
With WildWind’s ‘home club’ FarEast Yacht Club in an inactive state and the RCJ-44 races slowly disappearing from our weekly menu’s, we were all waiting for Corry’s new racing release. As people who follow her may expect, this one is also inspired upon a glamourous racing class that is currently very popular in Real Life sailing news. The new America’s Cup formula with fast catamarans, with masts supporting a wing instead of a mainsail.
As Corry Kamachi has explained herself only last week, the WildCat is not intended to be the AC45 class boat in Secondlife. There is actually an AC45 and even it’s larger brother, the AC72, under development now in her works. The WildCat is meant to be a ‘smaller’ catamaran, using a wing, similar to the one we saw on last year’s America’s Cup winners BMW-Oracle. As such, it is a first in Secondlife.
The boat can be seen as a fast, somewhat large racing boat, which is easy in it’s handling and accessible to less experienced sailors. The general consensus being that new racers in SL are especially attracted to ‘fast’ and ‘big’, as well as to boats with a glamourous feel about them, should make it easy to market within our virtual world.
As said in the previous paragraph, the boat handles easily. It has to be said though, that the ability to change the divergence of the wing (the angle between both parts of the wing that forms the ‘mainsail’) can add extra difficulty.
As normally with WildWinds, the boat can be controlled in 3 ways:
– By keyboard, using the arrow keys and page/up-page down
– By chat commands, using gestures.
– By the WildWind hud, which is optional to use.
There is a settings notecard in which many parameters, such as the command channel, the camera angle etc. can be modified to suit your needs. Manuals come both in Japanese and English.
The WildWind WildCat uses the typical WildWind engine, which is essentially tako-based with a long evolution of modifications for handling apparent wind, windshadow and changes to the wind locking procedure.
Coming from this legacy, the WildCat only uses the basic WWC-settings designed to provide backwards compatibility for boats using the old SLSF wind system. The WWC racewind, current, waves and localized settings are not included.
This means the boat is still rather basic when compared to complex machines like the Flying Fizz or some new boats that are coming out these days. It makes up a bit for this when it comes to it’s lightness on the use of resources: you will have a hard time trying to crash this boat on a region crossing.
The polar plot of the WildCat looks familiar for fans of WildWind boats, but that is not all that can be said about it. It clearly shows that this boat loves reaching and is less at ease, as one would expect with a cat, far from the wind on downwind runs. It’s maximum speed is attained at about 90 degrees on a beam reach, after which the speed gradually drops again. At about 110 degrees true wind, you can raise the asymmetrical gennaker. Using this, the speed will quickly go up until you reach a maximum of nearly 18 knots in a 15 knot wind at 120 degrees true wind.
After this the boat speed quickly declines again. You can see how the WildCat sails highly ineffective already at 160 degrees true wind.
Best downwind VMG (Velocity Made Good) for this boat is obtained at about 140 degrees, while it peaks in it’s upwind performance at around 40 degrees or a little more. Note how the polar diagram shows the break in the curve at 110 degrees true wind, the point where the gennaker can be put to work. I would say that this is a rather good polar for such a catamaran in Secondlife.
Oh.. and speaking of performance.. did I mention that this boat is quite stable at region crossings?
The WildCat is copy- and modifiable, which means you can make it as pretty or as ugly as you wish. There is a set of template textures included in the package, which should enable it’s sailor or specialized sail/hull retailers to create a series of pretty customizations for this catamaran. I certainly expect a bunch of pretty customized WildCats to sail the mainland protected waters very soon now.
Of course some of us will want to race this boat, so it is good to have an idea on the future the WildCat may have as a racing class in the virtual sailing scene. So far, this seems to be a bright one: GGYC and NYC have already started regular races in this boat and there are plans to include the boat to the classes for SLSA Graded events. It is also worthwhile to note that GGYC has ambitions to incorporate wing-rigged catamarans in a possible America’s Cup in SL campaign.
This should mean that the boat would at least be good for about half a year or longer of racing fun, until it is maybe superseded by the WildWind AC45 or another creation of Corry Kamachi’s.
The WildCat has it all for the new sailor: it is a fast and big boat, which should be a guarantee for spectacular races. It is realistic in it’s boat speed, but a bit too easy in it’s handling to be a challenging sailboat for experienced sailors in SL. It’s large size and resulting turning circle make it less suited for smaller seas and lakes, which means the WildCat will most likely not be raced much on private estates in SL.
As for touring: it’s pretty, it’s got a nice wake and the handling enables you to chat a bit on the side. It is fast though 😉 But hey, that’s what you wanted, right?