Melbourne to Osaka Double-Handed Yacht Race

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2017 on line simulated race

Starts 0800 Sunday 2nd April 2017 Melbourne time (2200 Saturday 1st April UTC)

Note: Melbourne Daylight savings time changes 0300 on 2nd April

Sailonline logo

What is it ?

A 2017 virtual Melbourne to Osaka yacht race, from your arm chair/computer/device.  Combining fun, competition and an overview of navigation & weather competitors will experience in the real race, this simulated race is proudly hosted/run by Sail Online will commence 0800 EST 2nd April 2017.  It will be a one design race (to keep it simple) based on an Open 40, similar to the 2018 entrant "Lord Jiminy". 

Sailonline screen

How does it work ?

You log in from time to time during the 5 week long race to schedule heading changes.  The system loads up the NOAA wind grib files every 6hrs and releases them in 10 minute increments producing an ever changing wind situation that is as close as possible to the weather in reality.  The simulation will then compute boat speed based on polars and position you as a result.  The combination of real-time forecast winds and high quality boat physics makes an ideal platform for learning and practicing the art of weather navigation. 

How do I get started?

First, go to and click on 'Getting Started' (3rd from the left on the menu bar at the top of the page. This will lead you through registering a boat/username, point you to the list of active races, and suggest you read the manual.

On the right-hand side of the main page you will also find a list of active races where you will find a few useful links: The INFO link tells us about the race course incl. marks to be rounded etc. The Particulars link tells us about the boat incl. polars, a bit of history, and a picture of the boat (a Class 40 for this race). And most importantly it tells us when the scheduled weather updates will occur. In our case they will be occurring at 0430 / 1030 / 1630 / 2230 UTC. Note that because people compete in SOL from all over the globe dates/times are always given in UTC. Many SOLers actually set an alarm every six hours so they can check their plans and make any adjustments that may be required.

Next you'll go to the Melbourne to Osaka 2017 - Prelude 2 race page, but first time you will be asked to choose your boat (not a lot of choice for this race) and 'Register in the race'.

You should then see something like what is shown in the picture above. The plus and minus buttons zoom in and out and you can drag the map to reposition it. The middle button (the pink boat) centers the map on your boat. The steering wheel button lets you graphically set your desired course over ground / true wind angle to sail. If you click on the steering wheel tab on the right hand side of the screen then it will show you where you are currently sailing on your polar. Those were the quick and dirty instructions that should get you going, but it really is worth Reading The Fine Manual.

Fairly quickly you will find it useful to be able to set direction changes (DC's) ahead of time. This can be done using the 'Delay for' checkbox and entering a delay such as '1.5' or 1h30m' both of which indicate a delay of an hour and a half. And once you've set one (or more) of these up you can go to the clock tab to see what DC's you have scheduled. Oops ... not visible! Click on the refresh button. Whenever you have a DC set you will notice in the status bar at the top of the screen that it tells you exactly how long it is until your next DC will take effect.

One trap for new players is trying to set a bunch of DC's before the start. Just remember that all boats get dragged back to the starting line one hour before the scheduled start of the race. Did we RTFM?

In need of some help or advice?

The SOL client includes a chat tab. If you have any questions that is probably the best place to go. The site is a great resource for those who want some more insight and want to sail a bit harder. The SOL Forum is also useful but probably a bit too general.

Give me more tools!

Whether you just want something that gives you a hint such as Kroppyer's WW Inspector or something at the extreme end that allows you to connect your favourite routing software (eg. Expedition or MaxSea) to your virtual boat, the site has links to all of the most important tools.

The first tool everyone should try is AGage's WXInspector as this gives you 90% of the functionality of a high end weather routing tool.

More about Sailonline (SOL)

There are about 1200 members of Sailonline who have taken part in at least one race in the last 12 months, they have just over 10,000 verified registered boats from around the world.  Unlike some other online sites, they see themselves as a navigation simulation rather than a sailing game. Their members are mainly active club sailors and include some professional and semi-professionals who use Sailonline to sharpen their navigation skills. An America's Cup yacht designer is a regular participant. See this story:

In the M2O Prelude last year we had 320 entrants from about 39 different nations. Of those, 40 boats were AUS flagged and about 15 were NZL thanks to the publicity done by ORCV. Usually the fleet has more European and USA entrants reflecting their membership numbers and origins of Sailonline. The placegetters of the virtual race in 2016 were Aus, NZL and Italy. Longer ocean races attract more entrants as this type of race is their forte. They also do versions of the Volvo Race at the same time as the real event.

As an indication of their spread around the world, in 2016 they did a buddy-up with San Diego Yacht Club for the SoCal300.  From a virtual fleet of around 300, the top 10 places were filled by boats from 10 different nations:

1. Switzerland

2. Italy

3. Germany

4. France

5. Australia

6. Peru

7. Brazil

8. New Zealand

9. Canada

10. Denmark is a non-profit, community owned company registered in Sweden. The management team are all volunteers located in various parts of the world, Stockholm, Helsinki, London, Milan and Melbourne.