Please select your home edition
Vaikobi 2021 Boots - LEADERBOARD

Brawn v Brain? The Bar or The Room?


  The latest news from Europe, Africa and the world                                                                                                                         

   - Check here. To respond to this email Go here
  05 Jul 2016


Brawn v Brain? The Bar or The Room?

SailX Bart's Virtual Sailing Championship  © SailX
Interesting questions and can they possibly be linked in any way. Is it just the one connection, or could there indeed be several ways to address this conundrum? Well the route of the answer could be SailX, the online inshore racing game. The reason is that in a lot of ways, these two hypotheses were the very reasons for the game being created in the first place.

Amando Estela, the father of the game (, is a Hobie 16 sailor from Valencia. He and his three brothers all sail and windsurf, and one day they came back to the club and had a rule discussion. Out of that also came the knowledge that strategy and tactics were not so well known either. It is pretty much a familiar scene around the globe.

We are all happy to spend time working on the boat or the body to extract speed, but far more reluctant to go with brain based stuff. Ultimately the group at the bar realized they were not as conversant as they should be, so Amando, a software developer, took on the challenge. They looked at different scenarios and set basic parameters with wind and tide, then added RRS and developed away.

The first versions were rudimentary, with line drawings and splitting the keyboard left and right to make the controls. It was a little like a digital version of the old Battleships game, with two separate computers at the bar linked via hardwire and the competitors got into match racing. Everyone at their local club got right into it, and before long there were four or five computers and fleet racing had begun.

Once Tacticat (as it was then known) got web enabled it exploded, and by 2009 there was no stopping SailX. It was still top down view line drawings back then, but chat would soon be added. It was off the one server at the time, so the closer you were to it, the better off you were for reaction times and so on. This racing and training tool had now become a full-bore game.

Differing approaches to commercialisation followed in the next couple of years, but today there are now seven servers around the globe, with a military grade communications protocol between them and an algorithm that smooths the flow between the game server that is being used presently, which improves the real-time aspect of it all.

Amando explains, “SailX is a massive project - much more complicated than you would imagine. It is what we need to enable sub-second interaction and gaming. There are six programming languages, and a state-of-the-art data gathering and analytics backbone, so it is much more than just race management for we have real time moderation for language and behaviour, etc. Additionally, there is the constant battle against hackers and spammers, along with upgrades to keep pace with changing world.”

When you consider that races are done in less than 10 minutes, it brings a whole new level to the term ‘sprint series'. Remember too that this is a truly global phenomenon, with the recent World Championships attracting 2500 players.

SailX Bart's Virtual Sailing Championship  © SailX

So a super robust system is mandatory, as everyone talks and races in real-time. There are human moderators to make sure everyone plays nicely and a zero tolerance policy on bad language and racing techniques! These moderators are volunteers, but racers can get rapped over the knuckles, muted or retired.

In their time, some 18,000 ruled protests have taken place, which of course are complete with videos and so forth of the event, and they're all admissible and used. Things are recorded down to the millisecond, so there is absolute clarity and therefore, no wiggle room. The moderator makes the ruling. You fill out a protest form and have a chat privately, with retirement and points deduction the usual outcome. However, if you choose to go to the room, the stakes are much higher and not only is the moderator there, but other players can weigh in too.

Remember, it is all about the learnings, the spirit of helping and encouraging everyone. It can take a couple of years to become a moderator, which is an elected role by the moderator team, that is subsequently validated by Amando. There are 20 of them globally, and they are Presidents of Class Associations, elite races and also high achievers with good people skills for conflict resolution. There are also two IJs for when it gets serious.

Now before you start thinking this is all way too much for you, note clearly that when you start you operate in ghost mode, so you cannot collide with anyone, dump on them, or interfere with their plans in any way, shape or form. It is about letting you see what it is about and then build to becoming a regular, which does seem to happen a lot, with addiction having been one of the underlying elements since SailX's inception!

“SailX is both fun and sociable, and a good way to improve your racing. Your starting and overall race strategies will benefit from forward thinking and you can actually see things out in front of you by virtue of the different view options.”

“The best way to engage is just to register and start racing, chatting, posting in the forum, learning, sharing, and so on. Come for ten minutes and you will be with us for an hour at least! Our racers, who range from absolute novice to elite, and young to not so young, keep coming back as SailX is a very powerful combination of fun and learning”, said Estela.

SailX Bart's Virtual Sailing Championship  © SailX

Racing goes on 24/7, so no matter where you are on the globe you can join in. There are six types of craft that resemble some very famous varieties. Specifically, we are talking Laser, 420, 49er, AC90, AC45 and Foiling AC45, and there are the nuances of this vastly differing craft present in their form around the track.

Each boat is tweaked to emphasise its tactical nature, so the skiff capsizes, the AC90 is all about pointing, with the Laser it is about tacking on each knock, whereas the AC45 is about picking the one (and correct) tack. The 420 has the same VMG no matter what angle you sail and with the Foiling AC45 you can pass to leeward.

There are insights to be learned around the craft, you have options around pre-race tune and then also whilst on the water. The objective of each boat is to put the racer into a mode of thinking that has parallels in the real world and one where you manage your risk overall, as it pertains to a series.

So of the 120,000 or so registered users you find there are around 5,000 super active heads. There is Bronze, which is life membership for a once off US$15 fee and then Silver and Gold, which are monthly subscriptions. There are 3,2,1 votes for control over the environment attached to the levels, but note that you only get an information advantage the higher up the tree you go, not an increase in boat speed!

So with six to ten minute race durations, this really is all about short course work and making decisions. It is calculated that you'll be making those every five or so seconds as you go about two laps of either a W/L or trapezoid course. Presently there is only a desktop version, with no mobile or offline capability (yet), and a good Internet connection is a must. “The future planned offline or casual version will be much less aggressive and focus on being a practice tool”, says Amando, indicating it may not be as far off as one might think.

Still not convinced? Just remember that you start in ghost mode and you should win or at least be in the top three, for you can even port tack the fleet, but you will be amazed at the pace of the choices you face, for wind shifts and tide arrive on you much faster than in real life.

Also, just like the real thing, it is a passion for life and you build friends and networks in exactly the same way. It seems the learnings and the pace is quite addictive, and there is a lot of video material to wade through to get you inspired whether you already know it all or thought you might give sailing a go.So in SailX we have something that provides for multiple ways to learn and one where you can see it all happen over again.

The benefit of making decisions more often has to be in making some things more second nature, seeing the chess moves and anticipating what is going to happen before it does. Ultimately, that has to mean more time on tell tales, waves and all those other critical elements in a sport with constant change as its mantra.

Amando then added. “Those who get it (including some of the best sailors in the world) really get it, and also get addicted. It's taken time to really get the story out there, but it's happening! SailX is not only great for individuals, but also clubs, classes and even federations. Our sport is struggling because we are small and highly fragmented. SailX is a great platform for bringing it all together.”

In the end, Amando can sum up the whole concept when asked what is the one thing you want them to leave with after reading this article and also the SailX site. “Try it!” So without further ado, leave the bar and exercise the brain by heading straight to, but be aware, you could be there for more time than planned!

Why not have a go at ?

John Curnow

J.P. Morgan Round the Island Race – Definitely one for 'bucket list'
Nic Douglass,
I think I 'picked' the year to do it too, with plenty of breeze on, and plenty of action on board the winning First 40 La Reponse as well as following the record-breaking win of the Mod 70 Phaedo 3.... [more]

Volvo Ocean Race announces the first entry of 2017-18 edition
Volvo Ocean Race,
Backed by AkzoNobel - a leading global paints and coatings company headquartered in Amsterdam, Netherlands, employing around 45,000 people worldwide, and whose portfolio includes well-known brands such as Dulux, Sikkens, International, Interpon and Eka.... [more]

Volvo Ocean Race - Dutch multinational is first team sponsor announced
Richard Gladwell, NZL,
Dutch multinational AkzoNobel is the first naming rights sponsor to be announced for the 2017-18 edition of the race. The announcement was tipped by new Volvo Ocean Race CEO, Mark Turner, at a media conference last week to announce the Volvo Ocean Race course.... [more]

Clipper Race – Can Derry~Londonderry hold on for a home port victory-
The Clipper Race,
The leaders all rounded Rockall together, within metres of each other, a remarkable feat after more than 3200NM of racing across the Atlantic Ocean. LMAX Exchange Skipper Olivier Cardin, currently 3NM behind Derry~Londonderry~Doire in second place, explains some of the cat and mouse racing over the last 24 hours.... [more]

Jock sailing at U23 Finn Worlds for Finn Silver Cup aims much higher
Robert Deaves,
Calvert has progressed through the Sabot class and Laser 4.7 before moving onto windsurfing. After sailing the 4.7 World Championship in San Francisco he attained a third place finish at the Australian 4.7 Nationals.... [more]

2016 RS:X Open European Championships kicks off in Helsinki + Video
Piret Salmistu / RS:X Class,
209 athletes from 33 nations and five continents have gathered to Helsinki to test themselves at the final title event before stepping up to the biggest challenge of all at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Quite many big names are in Rio for the final tune-up there by now.... [more]

Sebastien and Gregoire win Geneva stage of Red Bull Foiling Generation
Team Tilt Sailing,
Thirty-two of Switzerland's best young sailors, including Sebastien Schneiter and his cousin Gregoire Siegwart, gathered on the waters off Geneva for a sailing spectacle like no other, racing the Flying Phantoms at speeds of up to 60km/h.... [more]

Rio Olympics - Ain't nothing to it but to do it
World Sailing,
Sometimes in sport, and in life, you have one of those days where everything goes beyond your wildest dreams. To get to this point, hard work, hours of practice and full time dedication is required but when it all clicks and it comes together there is no better feeling.... [more]

Rossi rolls out red carpet in Ancona for Farr 40 European Championship
Brady Stagg,
Alberto Rossi has been a loyal and stalwart member of the Farr 40 Class Association for many years. The 2013 Rolex Farr 40 world champion is well respected by fellow competitors because he always displays the characteristics that make the class so great, particularly sportsmanship and camaraderie.... [more]

U23 Finn Worlds - Great welcome for U23 Finn sailors in Aarhus
Robert Deaves,
2016 U23 Finn World Championship - After a couple of false starts the wind died and the practice race at the 2016 U23 Finn World Championship in Aarhus, Denmark, was abandoned and the fleet headed back to the Kaløvik Boat Harbour.... [more]

Guichard comes from behind to win breezy first day in Marstrand
Aston Harald,
2016 World Match Racing Tour - The World Championship Finals of the World Match Racing Tour opened in the best possible way today, with Marstrand delivering strong breeze and sunny skies for the 20 international teams competing in Sweden.... [more]

Round the Island Race - Alchemist caught on a hazard of the course NZL,
With hundreds of boats sailing past The Needles at the western end of the Isle of Wight, the hazards are not always obvious above the water. The Du Bois designed Half Tonner Alchemist owned by the commodore of the Island Sailing Club sank after it hit a submerged shipwreck in Saturday's JP Morgan Asset Management Round the Island race... [more]

Solitaire Bompard Le Figaro – Chasing pack caught up miles on leaders,
Monday afternoon has been cruel to the leaders of stage three. As they negotiate a messy ridge of high pressure that stands between them and the most southerly turning mark of the 410-nautical mile stage from Paimpol to La Rochelle, there has been a compression of the fleet.... [more]

Nine athletes set to sail for Canada at 2016 Rio Olympic Games NZL,
Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) and Sail Canada named the nine athletes nominated to represent Team Canada in sailing at the Rio 2016 Olympic. Sail Canada refused to nominate sailors in three events for which they had qualified in the Mens and Womens Windsurfer (RS:X) and the Women's Two Hander (470). Sail Canada rejected a further place offered in the Mens Skiff (49er).... [more]

MACIF skipper ends his attempt at North Atlantic record single-handed
Service presse trimaran MACIF,
Following more than two days at sea, François Gabart has decided to abandon his attempt to beat the north Atlantic record single-handed, due to unfavourable weather conditions on the second section of this course.... [more]

Swedish Finn youth using Aarhus Silver Cup as stepping stone to Tokyo
Robert Deaves,
Johannes Pettersson (SWE) is about to begin his first ever Finn Silver Cup after first stepping into the Finn at the end of 2015, when he finally got too big to sail the Laser.... [more]

Fourth venue of 2016 GC32 Racing Tour confirmed
GC32 Racing,
Located 25km east of Gibraltar on Spain's Andalucian coast, Sotogrande is increasingly attracting high profile sailing events. This year it has already hosted the World Championship for the RC44 keelboat class in May while Saturday saw the conclusion of the World Championship for a 48-boat fleet of J/80 sportsboats.... [more]

Rio Olympics - Most nations to compete since Sydney
Richard Gladwell, NZL,
The largest number of nations will compete at the 2016 Olympic Regatta in Rio de Janeiro, since 2000. In the latest quota allocations announced by World Sailing show a total of 66 nations competing in the 10 events. That is three more than Weymouth in 2012, and better than Qingdao (2008) with 62 nations and 60 nations in Athens in 2004.... [more]

Clipper Race – Frustrations kick in with easing winds on Day 14
The Clipper Race,
After setting a blistering pace across the Atlantic, some of the teams in the LegenDerry Finale have found themselves all but grind to a halt in the light winds off the north coast of Ireland.... [more]

Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup – Secret eighth team revealed
James Boyd,
The Celtic Team has been masterminded by Scottish adventurer, Jock Wishart, who is campaigning Jean-Eudes Renier's JPK 10.80, Shaitan. Shaitan is joined by the Corby 37, Aurora, which co-owners Roderick Stuart and Bill Ram's raced in the Scottish team in 2014 and originally, when new was Eamonn Rohan's Blondie III and competed for Ireland in 2006.... [more]

Sailing Series® Melges 20 - Tough fight on final day
Melges 20,
Sailing Series® Melges 20 - Riva Del Garda's legendary 'wind factory' concluded the final day of competition with an unexpected ending to the 2016 Sailing Series® Melges 20.... [more]

Hector Simpson ready to compete in U23 Finn World Championship
Robert Deaves,
Nearly 40 young Finn sailors are carrying out last minute preparations in Aarhus for the start of racing on Tuesday.... [more]

Solitaire Bompard Le Figaro – Famous five dominate on Benign Biscay,
Thierry Chabagny on Gedimat took a slender lead at around 0600hrs this morning, as the leaders were hard on the wind along the north coast of Brittany.... [more]

François Gabart breaks 24-hour singlehanded North Atlantic record-
Service presse trimaran MACIF,
Taking on this kind of challenge on a multihull is a first for the skipper of the trimaran MACIF.... [more]

Record-breaking thrills and spills deliver memorable J.P. MAM RTI Race
Peta Stuart-Hunt,
In a fast-paced and action-packed day that started at a later than usual 0830 with the firing of the first gun by HRH Prince Michael of Kent GCVO, Sir Keith Mills' FAST 40+ Invictus missed out on winning the coveted Gold Roman Bowl for the first IRC yacht on corrected time, having to settle for second place.... [more]

Lloyd Thornburg in Phaedo^3 winning J.P. Morgan AM Round Island Race
Rachel Fallon-Langdon,
Lloyd Thornburg received The Dean and Reddyhoff Trophy, The Golden Miler Cup and The Freedom Bowl, for his fantastic achievement as the Multihull line honours boat in the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Race 2016, setting a new record for the Race in two hours 23 minutes and 23 seconds, knocking Sir Ben Ainslie off the record spot.... [more]

Rounding Tory Island causes a conundrum for the Clipper Race teams
The Clipper Race,
The wind shifts around Tory Island are keeping it tight at the top with ClipperTelemed+ and LMAX Exchange staying close to Race 12 leader, Derry~Londonderry~Doire, which with 493 nautical miles to go, is now just 15NM and 18NM ahead of them respectively.... [more]

French top seeds lead the peloton at Solitaire Bompard Le Figaro,
Overall race leader Yoann Richomme on Skipper MACIF 2014 is duelling for the lead with Thierry Chabagny – winner of this year's Transat AG2R LA MONDIALE – with only two tenths of a nautical mile separating the leading duo.... [more]

World Match Racing Tour - Let's face the music, and dance
Aston Harald,
2016 World Match Racing Tour - With 20 teams about to compete at the World Match Racing Tour Finals, the sense of expectation is growing by the hour in Marstrand, Sweden. There's a crackle of electricity in the air, a tension that you only get around a major sporting event.... [more]

A challenging sea-going debut for Switzerland's Safram
Safram Sailing,
2016 J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race - The Swiss sailing team Safram, a frequent competitor at Europe's biggest lake regattas, shipped their Ventilo M1 catamaran to the Isle of Wight in the United Kingdom to take on the challenging 50 nautical mile J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race. This classic on the British racing calendar attracts a fleet of over 1,500 boats... [more]

Round the Island Race - Gold Roman Bowl winner announced
Peta Stuart-Hunt,
The provisional winner of the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race's biggest prize, the Gold Roman Bowl for the first IRC boat on corrected time has been announced as Bernard Langley's TP52 Gladiator. She powered around the course to become the second monohull to finish... [more]

Prince Harry at The J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race
World Wide Images,
Today, Prince Harry was very happy to join the crew of FAST 40+ yacht 'Invictus' for the J.P. Morgan Round the Island Race, following a longstanding invitation from Sir Keith Mills. Invictus Games competitor Zoe Williams was also on board.... [more]

Roberts leads at the start of stage three from Paimpol to La Rochelle,
Alan Roberts on Alan Roberts Racing led the 39-strong fleet of solo skippers in the Solitaire Bompard Le Figaro as they began the 410-nautical mile third stage from Paimpol to La Rochelle.... [more]

Disappointment for Brayshaw as forestay breaks just hours into Leg 3
Artemis Offshore Academy,
British Rookie Hugh Brayshaw racing Artemis 23 has suffered a broken forestay (the wire that connects the mast to the bow of the boat) just hours into the start of Leg Three of the Solitaire Bompard Le Figaro. Thirty-nine Figaros started the 410nm leg from Paimpol at 1900 CET this evening, bound for La Rochelle.... [more]

Third time lucky for Roberts leading Solitaire fleet out of Paimpol
Artemis Offshore Academy,
Following his premature start to the second leg of the Solitaire Bompard Le Figaro, tonight British skipper Alan Roberts aboard Alan Roberts Racing proved it's three times a charm as he leads the fleet in the penultimate 410-mile leg from Paimpol to La Rochelle.... [more]

Sailing Series Melges 20 - Illbruck's Pinta now control Riva del Garda
Melges 20,
2016 Sailing Series® Melges 20 - For day two, it was a late start due to on - and off-again rain and no breeze which kept teams ashore for a while before getting in two more races at the fourth act of the Sailing Series® Melges 20. Michael Illbruck's legendary Pinta is now firmly in control with a ten point advantage.... [more]

Send your regatta news and images directly to

Stay up to date with the latest sailing news, as it happens, on our website

You can
unsubscribe from any or all of our newsletters here

If you are having difficulty with the above link, please copy and paste the link below into your browser is operated by YY Online Services Ltd. registered in England no. 7895890
The George Business Centre, Christchurch Road, New Milton, BH25 6QJ, UK

Doyle Sails 2020 - Cruising Confidence 728x90 BOTTOMArmstrong-A-Wing-728x90 gif BOTTOMNorth Sails 2021 Innovation - FOOTER