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Virtual Race starting 2 January 2021, as celebration of 50th Anniversary

by Anthony Spillebeen 20 Dec 2020 15:27 PST 2 January 2021
Virtual Race starting 2 January 2021, as celebration of 50th Anniversary © Royal Cape Yacht Club

On 2 January 2021, exactly two years in advance of the next prestigious Cape2Rio Race, we have the pleasure of running a virtual race between these two iconic cities.

Online navigation is a great way to hone your skills, to understand the science of weather routing and the interpretation of data now so readily available via the advent of cloud computing. This very same data is also available in real time to help with any passage planning that you may be doing, making sailing a lot more predictable within reason, from those heady days of 1971 when the first Cape2Rio Race took place.

With the help of a regular "SOLer" as they are known, George Snoek, we have the pleasure of presenting to you some of his insights on how the platform works. This should take your enjoyment of virtual racing to another level.

Registration for the Virtual Cape2Rio Race 2021 will commence approximately six days before the start and updates will be available on our Facebook site. Registration is easy and can be done through the webpage.

Numerous races are held on this platform throughout the year in a multitude of locations across the globe. We hope that you will join us and have fun competing virtually against family and friends, using this unique tool. We will be racing a state of the art Mark Mills designed 74 foot yacht optimised for the race conditions, called the C2R74.

The provided polar is extremely accurate and the boat has been well received in the two races sailed to date. See the time lapse video of the recent Cape Town to Port Elizabeth race below.

Thank you for your support in this regard. We firmly believe that by starting to build interest in our 2023 event early, it will enhance the global participation.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Be Safe

Anthony Spillebeen, Cape2Rio2023 Race Director

The South African Solers Forum - Introduction to Sailonline was created as a training tool for Swedish yacht design students to enable them to test their design polars. As a result it proved to be one of the better sailing simulators online and in particular its emphasis is routing based on any given weather. It is a community-owned sailing NavSim game providing a realistic, entertaining and educational platform for those who love the sea and sailing, wherever they may be around the globe.

Originally created by Sailport AB in Stockholm, Sweden by Jakob Kuttenkeuler and Kalle Haglunds - a two-man team combining academic, sailor, computer genius, scientist and boss - Sailonline today is probably the most realistic sailing navigation simulator game on the internet.

Unlike other sailing simulators on the web, Sailonline doesn't use fancy boat graphics nor does is it expect you to purchase any added sails and other boat kit to improve you boat speed. What it does do is provide you with a free to use sailing platform where the emphasis is on utilising a standard boat performance polar and using your skill in sailing the best angles given the weather provided.

Because Sailonline's roots were in sailboat design it is a very good tool to use in discovering what it means to sail a boat fast (Velocity Made Good and Velocity Made Course) within an environment where the real weather is updated four times daily. This means that the better sailors, whether you are "Seat Of The Pants" or an out and out "Router" type of sailor, will have an edge over the newcomer only because they have grown their intuition and understanding of the vagaries of the weather and have a better ability to place their boat in a better position over time again and again.

As I mentioned, Sailonline uses a standard boat performance polar. This means that there is a very level playing field and all the boats are identical in performance and your results are a direct indication of your understanding of sailing in general. There is a learning curve to be aware of, of course, and the primary one is to understand how to pilot your boat, getting to know the "Dashboard" and becoming familiar with the requirements to send sailing commands.

A second learning curve is to become aware of maximising your boat speed over a given course. Here the ability to sail a good angle over time, continuously, is vital.

A third learning curve, and this is optional, is to delve into the world of routing software. To get to know how to plan ahead in races that can take up to 3 weeks to complete the race. Such as the recent Sailonline Round the World Race, where there was four legs in the series, Lisbon to Cape Town - 18 days, Cape Town to Auckland - 15 days, Auckland to Punta del Este (Uruguay) - 11 days, Uruguay to Cascais - 15 days

And you do this all with the knowledge that there are hundreds of fellow sailors around the world to compete against and with the assurance that help is only a request away. On the dashboard, for each race, there is the "Chat" forum where much chat and banter takes place. Many newcomers have turned to Chat for help and there are always folks on line to help out. There is also the Forum page on the Sailonline webpage where you can search on any topic you have an issue with.

A more recent development has been The SA SOLers Forum, where a group of SOLers have come together to share thoughts and talks on all subjects sailing. They have a WhatsApp group as well as an email group going. Another development has been a local SOLer Raymond Landman, boat "Sebensa", joining the Sailonline Race Committee. So South Africa now has a strong influence within Sailonline with regards race suggestions. This has manifested itself in the various home water races seen recently, and of course the Cape to Rio races happening early 2021 and 2022 as a lead up to the real race in 2023.

Tips on using Sailonline

Below, find an abbreviated version of our tips. Find the full document here.


a) The golden key - The first rule for any competitive SOLer is to "Get to the strong wind first".
b) Stay Awake - The second best rule is "Stay Awake". In SOL the weather changes (wx) every 6 hours and generally these are 06:30am /12:30am /06:30pm /12:30pm.
c) Velocity Made Good - Velocity Made Good (VMG) is the most efficient course angle to sail based on the wind at that time and your next waypoint. If you select your Steering tool and shift this 360 degrees around your boat then at the Steering panel you will see the SOG (boat speed) and VMG change.
d) Penalty losses - Each time you tack or gybe, your boat is penalized at speed loss.
e) Cover - One good way to improve your results is to follow the lead pack.
f) The Golden Hours - The best time to pay attention is inside of the first few hours of any race. In the ocean races it is best to put 100% effort into the first full day or two.

Short and sprint races

a) Using the SOL ruler - Make use of the ruler to establish the right angle to sail between headlands or along a coastline.
b) Using the Notes Tab on the Dashboard - Go into the Options menu on the dashboard and select the "Notes Tab". This then pops up as a new tab on the dashboard and your turn list can be placed here.
c) Pinching - It can sometimes help to creep very slightly off course to gain a slightly better angle versus the others.
d) Tacking and gybing near land - Often you have to tack or gybe along a coastline or through a narrow channel and it is useful to sail to the max before turning.
e) Passing waypoints and buoys - Using the same basic philosophy in above it is always best to wait for your boat to pass the buoy before pressing the turn button. Forget trying to count the seconds as this is not reliable.
f) Reducing performance loss - Because performance loss is based on the different speeds from one polar angle to the next there is one trick to try when gybing (Having the wind behind you).

Ocean races

a) Observing High and Low pressure systems - This is one aspect of ocean racing that the really good sailors understand better than most, and most of us struggle to predict. Get to know how the action of the weather systems both in the Northern and Southern hemisphere.
b) How to tackle the sleep issue - Sleep very quickly becomes a problem for all of us if we put this off for anything longer than a day. So it's best to set an alarm clock for 12:30pm and check out what the new wx has meant for your boat.
c) Using Routing software - The best sailors use at least one version of routing software. Good software like qtVlm have a facility to export the route, this then can be put into your dashboard via Brainaids website.
d) Creating boat lists- A good way to observe the route of your chosen opponents is to create a new list from the dashboard. Then you highlight these and their paths are highlighted. Any move on their part will show up.
e) Placing during the race - Try not to panic when your positioning shows a high number at times. Your path sometimes takes you away from the shortest or straight line route which means the number goes up only later to cruise past the stragglers and give you a good result.

Library of good software

  • Agage
  • Kroppyer
  • qtVlm
For more info on the virtual race, please visit

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