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Virtual Solo Spring Championship with sponsorship from Rooster Sailing - Preview

by Will Loy 8 May 14:52 BST 9 May 2020
The Virtual Solo Spring Championship takes place on Saturday 9th May © Will Loy

This Saturday May 9th sees the inaugural running of the Virtual Spring Championship, 80 sailors are registered, some are not even sailors. With a reserve list sitting on the sidelines, any no-show will be quickly filled.

While the step from the water to the computer screen may at first seem a large leap, there is a proportion of the Solo fleet, when it comes to Solo success, who have lived in a world of fantasy for years. It is only fair then, that in these individuals should finally get the chance to fulfil their limited talents.

The software team at VR Inshore have developed a racing experience which puts us back onto the water, and at locations we could never afford in the real world. Not only that, there is no prejudice to those who don't fit the perfect helm weight or the majority of the Solo fleet who sport injuries.

So, the question is, as the 80 sailors line up for the championship, can the cream still rise to the top, will the tactical skills that the winners have, transfer to the silver screen or will the silver haired, physically limited competitors have their revenge.

Alec Powell and Andy Voysey have set up the VR racing up at HISC and are also a huge part of the organisation of this event, they were due to compete but the sheer volume of entries has resulted in them falling on their swords in order to ensure the Championship runs smoothly.

The HISC fleet have strength in depth and I will mention a few of the home club entries further down this article.

I will start by mentioning some of the competitors who would not normally get a look in because, let's be honest, keeping the boat flat and hiking like a ninja is not going to help anyone get to the front.

Top of my list and with no way of actually knowing if they are VR gods is Andy Hyland Andysolo, who has previously spent some time on the NSCA committee, advising us on website construction and associated issues. He has a background in dinghy and yacht racing so will be a natural on the race course. If Andy can keep it clean around the track he will be a Gold fleet shoe in.

Another one to watch could be Old Wells Northernish. The ex pro sailor knows his way around a Solo and has performed at a high level on the bow of Eat Sleep J Repeat so will be at home on the J70 on VR. With his knowledge of the best hot angles, he will be the one to follow on the downwind legs, just steer clear of him at the mark roundings.

There are other sailors who will be logging in at 2pm on Saturday with some pretty impressive pedigree, among them Charlie Cumbley 'Chuckbag' who is right up there in the Solo Hall of Fame. I assume his employer, North Sails, knew nothing of his involvement otherwise they would have sent their top Oppy sailor. Will Cumbley be able to transfer his undoubted and well tested tactical nouse to the game, I would suggest he performs the races from a hiking bench to really feel the burn.

P&B are fronted by Oliver Davenport Olly5737 still with youth on his side and an X Box under his TV but no imagination when it comes to pseudonyms. Reflexes do dull with age and a split second delay can equal disaster, Davenport will be right up there with hand/eye co-ordination, OCS may be his achilles.

Andy Davis, call sign Taxi, no surprise there then for the HD Sails CEO / sailmaker. Andy has some experience in the VR world having recently taken part in the YachtsandYachting.com Lockdown Cup event. The experience gained from that thrashing will surely have lit a fire in his six pack. I would not be surprised if one of his kids took the controls if dad doesn't deliver.

The event is also blessed with the presence of Solo god, Geoff Carveth geoffers60, the multiple class, multiple champion, who is based, for 6 months on the mountain range overlooking Lake Garda will be no stranger to some of the fabulous VR locations and having just cerebrated his 60th birthday, will be looking to add the Solo VR championship to his infinite list of victories.

We currently only have the one foreign competitor which is surprising since there really is no border or travel costs. I can only assume therefore that Pieter Jelle Jongejans Pieter Jelle, is their Champion of Europe and has skills to match his accomplishments at playing the Trombone.

Class President Doug Latta Solo 6000 is defending the honour of the UK fleet and will be at home hitting the hot angles on the downwind legs, his experience in the big boats should transfer smoothly to the little itty bitty J70s on the laptop.

Robin Gadd nib, impressed me with his skills as I watched a HISC VR Wednesday evening race last night, claiming two bullets and he may be the best of the home fleet though Alex Butler Butler5781 will have age on his side and with the finals potentially being raced in 49ers, speed of finger in his locker.

Another HISC sailor with youth on his side is Jack Hopkins Hopkins, 3rd at last years National Championship and another who must have player 1 skills. His 'Grand Theft Auto' history may come back to haunt him and with the on water jury, penalties could be penal.

Of the rest, well, we all have a chance and there is no physical excuse for not coming out on top, other than arthritis in the digits, poor eyesight or/and slow broadband width. I did see a fellow competitor while practicing on VR Inshore earlier today, the pseudonym creaser was a giveaway.

He finished a healthy 9th in an international field laden with fast finger responses, that must be his best sailing result for some time.

NOR is included with this article, you need to have Zoom loaded onto your phone as this will be the communication link between PRO and competitors. Don't be intimidated by the software...it's not the future, it's here now!

For spectators there is the option to watch the racing on the VR Inshore App, click custom race, click the menu in the right of the screen and scroll down the list of races which will be currently running and click on the Solo one. I am no genius but I believe you have to wait until the 1.15 countdown begins before you can view. Once on the race course screen you simply touch the top left of the screen to track through alternate views of the racecourse. You can also expand the screen to magnify the action.

I will hopefully provide some commentary once I have been knocked out, which is inevitable, and watch out for the official race report and video of the final.

Thanks to the team at HISC for organising this Championship and to Rooster Sailing for providing some, yet to be disclosed prizes.

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