Nothing can beat the real experience of sailing a skiff, any skiff, be it a modern or Classic 18, or one of the Historical 10s. Squeezing into a wetsuit that has mysteriously shrunk over the winter months (no, honestly!); gingerly dipping your feet into still cool waters; jumping on board and falling over one too many times while trying to clear the ramp; the feeling of wind in your hair, the motion of the boat, spray in the face… the shock of capsizing! All of these things are part of the overall experience that we all insanely love about the sport of sailing.
So what if you could experience something without all of these keen features? No need to slap on sunscreen and have it sting your eyes after the first wave you hit soaks you from head to toe. In fact, no need to worry about rigging, carrying the boats to and from the water either!
It’s called virtual sailing. Straight from the air-conditioned comfort of your home office, 24/7.
A couple of the Brisbane 18 Footers members are also members of an Australian based online gaming community called VSK Australia. Graphic Designer Paul Le Fevre launched VSK-Australia in May 2005, with three main goals in mind. First, to create a club that organised structured and high quality virtual racing predominantly for Australians, but also open to any international skipper wishing to bridge the time-zones. Secondly, to create an environment where people feel welcome, can make friends and learn the finer points of virtual sailing and the rules of sailing; and thirdly, to become the premiere VSK Club, not from having the fastest skippers but from having the best sailing program, being the most helpful to new skippers and using an “inclusive” membership policy rather than an “exclusive” one.
One of the key goals of the club is encouraging the members to share their knowledge. VSK-AUS has become recognised as a great source of information on using the game (changing graphics and network settings), game play (tips and tricks on how to get the best performance out of the various boats) and also for advice on the Racing Rules of Sailing.
One of the great features of VSK is the ability to save a replay of any race and review it from any angle you like. This feature is used to great effect when reviewing penalty or protest situations. We often discuss penalties handed out by the VSK Umpire after a race by using the replays which can be posted in our forum or downloads area, or emailed to other members. Short video clips or screenshots are then produced and published at the site along with an explanation of the rules involved. Many club members agree that the review of the penalties that they don’t understand is great for improving rule knowledge and tactics.
One of the other fantastic features of the game is the ability for the development of 3D models for the game, and this is where the link to the Brisbane 18 Footers comes in. Former Classic 18ft skiff owner/skipper Mark Graveson kicked off the idea of creating an 18ft skiff model, but it was some time until Laurie Williamson took up the challenge and started modelling. Some 961 forum posts later, the model was released in its current form with a stack of realistic features, and as hopefully can be seen from the pictures, the result is impressively realistic.
So why not check out virtual sailing? The nagging from the partner about sailing will still be there, but it will be “are you playing that bloody game again?” instead!