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26 March 2020

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Sailonline has been offering a free-to-play sailing navigation simulator since 2008 and has, over the years, found the ebb and flow of interest in both online sail racing and sailing navigation is very much pegged to events in the wider world but the recent declaration by the World Health Organisation of a PHEIC (Public Health Emergency of International Concern) has meant that sailors no longer able to sail or race in reality can find their home with Sailonline. As Sailonline was designed as a server-based wind navigation simulator for ocean racing and its clever presentation of real-time wind forecasts in-race means that sailors planning future inshore, offshore and ocean adventures of their own, can safely hone their navigation skills at home!

It has been a while since Sailonline last raced from Newport RI, so when SailNewport approached us to tailor-make a course in their home-waters, despite having a full racing calendar, it seemed appropriate to agree. The race designed by SailNewport took Sailonline racing inshore from Newport for the first time – conventionally we’ve headed off to Boston or eastwards across the Atlantic – so it was fun to explore as far inland as Rumstick Point and use internet resources to find out a little about the history of the area.

Now to the race. Well it is many years since Sailonline saw such a high volume registration for one of its events - boats flying the flags of 48 different nations took part, with a huge turnout from the USA - and, while a significant proportion of registrants chose not to race on the day, with the race remaining open for a few more days, it is clear that more than expected have been out on course. Within the first hour there was a delightful spread across the course with many manoeuvring and engaging their tactical brains.

Rounding Rumstick Rock saw several boats miss the turn for “home” but it was in the run to the sea and the mark at Newton Rock that saw the competition for the podium heat up – just look at the timelapse video and see for yourselves!

Our podium three, unsurprisingly all SOLers (racers who regularly sail on Sailonline), are to be congratulated on their success, arriving within a minute of each other. A total of 78 boats finished within the first 10 minutes of the winner, which is a remarkable result. Everyone, therefore, who finished should be very pleased with themselves – it was a tricky and full-on race indeed!

Timelapse by Bimmer

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