Friday, August 08, 2008

My Taylor Is RIch

In the early days of the online sailing simulator, Tacticat (now sailx), some bright spark discovered that, by causing the skiff class boat to execute a certain combination of unseamanlike maneuvers, it was possible to fool the program into allowing you to keep flying the spinnaker when heading up to a close-hauled course. For a few days, anyone in the know was able to make huge gains by using this trick to sail upwind with the spinnaker flying, as the rest of the fleet looked on in awe and claimed that it was all totally unfair.

It didn't take long for the Tacticat overlords to identify what was obviously a bug in the program, and it was soon fixed.

Who would have thought that this weird anomaly from the world of sailing software would be replicated in real life? And at the Olympic Games no less?

In the Tornado catamaran class, the Dutch and American Olympic teams have developed so-called code 0 gennakers which are designed to be carried upwind as well as downwind. Although they may be slower downwind than a normal Tornado spinnaker, the code 0 sails are apparently so much faster upwind in the expected light wind conditions in China that these two teams are almost certain to win the gold and silver medals.

So now those energetic and competitive Australians are rushing to copy the Americans and Dutch.

The British, superior and aloof as only true Brits can be, say they already tried that idea and it will only work in a narrow wind range.

And the Austrians, dour and disgruntled, are threatening to boycott the whole regatta.

Ohmigod. The Olympics are just like Tacticat. All it needs now is someone hailing, "The darker the windier" or "My taylor is rich" all the way round the course and they will be identical. (Sorry. Tacticat in-joke. You had to be there.)

Apparently there is nothing in the Tornado class rules that prohibits using a smaller spinnaker or the use of it upwind. Just to be sure the Aussies posed a couple of questions to the Chief Measurer and, according to SailJuice Blog received the following answers...

Does the non-one design ‘code zero’ upwind spinnaker contravene the class rules?

The concept of a smaller gennaker does not contravene the class rules. Class Rule G.5.3 does not specify minimum dimensions.

Is a “dolphin strike” permitted on the bowsprit?


No. The addition of a compression strut and associated rigging below the bowsprit spar would contravene class rules F.5″

I have no idea what "non-one design" means or what a "dolphin strike" is but it's all starting to sound more like the America's Cup than the Olympics. It's only a matter of time before the lawyers jump into the fray.

My immediate reactions....

  • I'm glad I sail a strict one-design class where such shenanigans are almost inconceivable.

  • Who would have thunk that even a bug in Tacticat would emulate real life so well?

  • If the Tornado class had aimed to ensure that they will never ever ever be invited to sail in the Olympics ever again, could they have devised a better strategy?

As they say in Tacticat, "Why cats are not olympic any more?"


EVK4 said...

I object to not being in on the "tailor" joke. I will now formally initiate a 2-day weekend long protest of being out of the loop. During this 2-day weekend long protest, I will not check any blogs, instead spending my time with my kids and a short sail on Sunday. I hope this situation is rectified when I return to my usual blog-reading grounds that most people call "work" on Monday.

Tillerman said...

I thought I would have to explain this...

In Tacticat, a sailor can hail other boats one way with any message he likes. But there is also a series of pre-canned hails that can be signaled by a combination of two numerical keys.

Some are fairly standard sailing hails. For example 11 is "Room Please!" and 36 is "I am going to protest you!"

Some are helpful hints on how to use Tacticat such as 54 which is "Use S to see the shadows".

But then some are totally off the wall. For example 19 is "I am the Mambo King". And 65 is "My taylor is rich".

Now you have to understand that the great overlord of Tacticat is Spanish. And apparently "My tailor is rich" is supposed to be the first English phrase that Spanish people learn. God knows why.

I think it's a bit similar to the way that "The pen of my aunt is in the garden" was supposedly the first phrase that English people learned in French. Or in the 19th century it was "My postilion has been struck by lightning".

Some very annoying people in Tacticat use these hails all the time. I have won many a race shouting out "My taylor is rich."

PS I have corrected the original post and title as Litoralis has pointed out that the great Spanish Tacticat overlord spells tailor as taylor.

Unknown said...

Although I read your blog regularly, this particular title caught my eye ... my son's name is Taylor and mine is Rich.

Carol Anne said...

Actually, it's "on the table" rather than "in the garden": La plume de ma tante est sur la table.

Back when I was in junior high, I remember classmates of mine going through their first line of Spanish over and over and over again: Es Susana en casa? (Is Susana at home?) I always wondered whether Susana's parents were lying when they told the young man at the door that she wasn't in. They seemed not to trust him.

Tillerman said...

No carol anne. The pen of your aunt may be on the table but my rich taylor moved the pen of my aunt and put it in the garden next to the chair of my uncle.

Anonymous said...

Dolphin Striker, from Wikipedia

Dolphin striker is a small vertical spar attached under the bowsprit to provide support for it and the jib boom.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I know what a dolphin striker is. But the Aussie question was about a dolphin "strike". Andy Rice on SailJuice even put a little "[sic]" after the word in question to emphasize that it was truly like this in the original he was quoting.

Anonymous said...

Didn't Edward have a dolphin strike on his recent fishing trip?

My tailor is Bob, by the way.

Carol Anne said...

But did Susana's father let Bob in to see her?

Pat said...

I don't think Mozart experienced Code 0 Tornadoes. But then couldn't a dolphin strike refer to marine mammal labor agitation? Perhaps Australia has hidden underwater sweatshops and have exploited our finned friends ere now?

Anonymous said...

It looks like the US team finished in last place and readily admit they made the wrong decision to use their sail. While it is sad to see 4 years of dedication end this way, in many respects I am glad this happened.

Rather than relying on skill and fair competition, they elected to take a very high risk short cut which did not work out for them. It seems illogical to me that you would separate yourself from the fleet knowing you only give yourself a chance if the wind direction and speed are in a very specific range, regardless of what history indicates.

Everyone knows that weather is one of many factors that are completely outside of your control. My experience has always been that being risk adverse and staying out of trouble during a long series pays dividends in the end.

Had they sailed with the normal sail configuration, they would have at least had an equal chance as the rest of the fleet in all conditions and had a chance to compete on the water.

I think they got what they deserved.

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