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How realistic is VSK racing?

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If you have sailed on the water before playing VSK then you will probably find the game quite enjoyable and even addictive. On the other hand, if you have never sailed before then you may wonder just how realistic this sailboat racing simulator is.

Points of comparison Edit

  • A VSK boat sails the distance between marks much faster than a real sailboat would sail the same distance under the same conditions.
    • A typical virtual race might take between 20 and 30 minutes whereas the same race in real life might be 2 or 3 hours.
  • The auto-umpire is not a perfect implementation of all rules found in ISAF RRS.
  • Some rule violations are not detected by the auto-umpire until two boats touch.
  • All penalties in VSK can be discharged by taking a one turn penalty while in real-life two turns are prescribed for all but rule 30.1.
  • Real boats take damage when contact is made whereas VSK boats may temporarily lose forward momentum but otherwise they emerge unscathed from collisions.
  • Skippers of real sailboats will shy away from force 7 winds whereas many VSK races are hosted in force 7 winds.
  • Real sails may blow out (suffer damage) in high winds while VSK sails are infinitely resilient. Mind you, some creators of boat models do strive to simulate the performance effect of sail blow out.
  • The 2 boat length zone around marks in VSK is scaled proportional to the VSK boat 3D model but is not scaled proportional to the distance between marks.
    • The zone is now 3 boat lengths in real life but due to these matters of scale changing VSK to 3 boat lengths might not make sense.
  • VSK must use visual queues to compensate for such sensory awareness as boat heal, acceleration, tell-tails, water surface texture and so forth.
  • In a real race your crew member designated tactician may be responsible for keeping track of which rules are at play with nearby boats but in VSK your computer is using algorithms to provide this situational awareness data to you in the so-called ISAF window.
  • In real life wind shifts can be highly localized especially when you sail past such obstructions as a land mass or container ship or when a local weather systems (e.g. a squall) passes by. In VSK these variations are not easy to model faithfully.
  • Although real life race committees have been known to set some pretty dangerous and/or dumb courses you'll find a significantly higher number of truly crazy courses hosted at VSK race servers.
  • The crew on VSK boats will tirelessly change head-sails for you and never make mistakes due to fatigue
  • The navigational aids available to the virtual skipper might be available on some multimillion dollar yachts but are certainly not available on many of the dinghys and catamarans that are sometimes raced.
  • The 3-axis-plus-zoom camera view adjustments are a serious luxury compared to the relatively limited perspective of a skipper at the helm or tiller of a real sailboat. Even with the extra eyes of an on-board tactician and a crew member at the bow or wherever the ability to judge such things as proximity of other boats, the race course markers, depth of a shoaling sand bar or whatever is not as precise in real life as it is portrayed in VSK.

Summing up Edit

Despite the above discrepancies VSK provides an enjoyable way to practice various racing tactics and especially to improve your understanding of what you might do to either avoid rule violations or to assert your right of way to improve your finishing place.

If playing VSK inspires more non-sailing people to venture onto a real boat and learn to sail then it will have done a great service to the sailing community. The tough lessons of windburn, sunburn, motion sickness, fatigue, freezing cold water in your boots or down your neck, hang-nails, jammed fingers, bruised knees and so on and so forth can best be left till you are "captive" on-board. At that point the promise of a pint or two of beer or a few shot glasses of your favorite spirit should help get you past the sometimes harsh reality of a hard day's work on the water.

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