Nov 21, 2017
By Owen Hurst
As I sit looking out my window at the snow that is slowly piling up it is easy to be downtrodden by the prospect that the winter season is yet to fully hit. It will be months before the time of boating is again upon us.
Of course, you could spend the winter somewhere warm on your boat, but ….. And what if you are a regular Regatta racer that must now face the long drought until the spring when your club begins a new season?
Good news – a number of tech companies have now begun to provide solutions for those long winter months on land, and to help develop a new educated wave of young sailors that are learning general knowledge about sailing before ever setting foot on a deck.
With the rise of tablets and smartphones simulation apps have sprung up for sailors that are focused on education, race training, or simply to provide a little fun. Leaning heavily on the gaming industry simulation apps may present as a game, but have taken the experience much further and developed realistic simulations capable of challenging even hardened mariners. CY has identified three of the primary simulation apps available for iOS and Android Devices, cWind, SailX and ASA’s Sailing Challenge app.
cWind is a realistic 3D sailing simulation game that openly admits it was designed for those who cannot keep their minds off their boats when they are at home, or even the office! The app is designed for beginners and is equipped with tutorials and for hardened mariners looking to refine tactics and stay sharp in the off season. The simulator has a wide range of available boats, utilizes a complete instrumentation panel and when you are engaged in a regatta, against the computer or online against others, the app applies ISAF racing rules. The app is a fun way to learn how to sail in realistic settings, or if you just need that sailing fix when getting on deck just isn’t an option. http://www.cwind-game.com/home.html
SailX follows similar lines to cWind, although it takes a more professional approach. The simulator has several user levels (registered, bronze, silver, Gold) that opens up a wider selection of options depending on your level. SailX boasts the largest fleet to choose from and has numerous endorsements from professional and Olympic sailors that identify the simulator as a great way to continue refining their tactics. Although admittedly to gain the full advantages of the simulator it is necessary obtain Gold member status. http://www.sailx.com/
The ASA has also developed their own app, that is a little more focused on gaming rather than simulation, but is still highly realistic and is equipped with several in-app training courses that are ideal for up and coming sailors. ASA’s chairman notes that “this is not just a game, it is brand new way to learn and retain the fundamentals of sailing”. The app truly is a cross-over between gaming technology and educational software. https://asa.com/sailing-challenge-app/
Simulation and training in the off season need not be limited to your handheld devices however, as the advantages of Virtual Reality (VR) have penetrated the sailing world. Although with a higher cost that a standard simulation app for your tablet or phone there are noticeable advantages of VR. VR has advanced to such a degree that America Cup teams have honed their skills through VR training, and militaries are also employing VR to train sailors.
Aside from government VR programs that most utilized by professional sailors is MarineVerse that was founded in early 2016 by Greg and Olga Dziemidowicz. The VR experience puts you back on the deck of a boat without ever leaving dry-land and is equipped to both teach new sailors and challenge veterans with realistic situations. The flagship of MarineVerse is VR Regatta. VR Regatta has three modes, learning, relaxing and racing. The experience has a real-time feel that allows your senses to adjust to the experience in a way a standard app can’t.
VR can even be taken further, as it has been for training of America’s World Cup teams who not only use VR but have taken it further with a professional grade virtual sailing simulator with a cockpit simulator platform that operates on hydraulically actuated legs.
MarineVerse is currently working to develop their VR simulator for home use with HTC Vibe, Oculus RIFT, Gear VR and Google Cardboard to make it more cost effective for consumers.
So, as you look out your window and see the snow piling up and the temperature drop fear not, spring is but a few months away and in the meantime, there are a number of virtual sailing experiences that let you return to the helm from the comfort of your own home.
About the Author, Owen Hurst
Not only is Owen an avid boater but he is also an enthusiastic historian with a Master’s degree in Classical Studies. He takes pleasure in research and applying his love of history with his passion for boating.
There is little he enjoys more than an early morning coffee and book on the deck of his home on the shore of Georgian Bay.