Armchair skippers race virtual Vendee Globe



AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE

Published — Tuesday 20 November 2012

Last update 20 November 2012 1:13 am

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

Navigating stormy seas by day and night, hundreds of thousands of virtual skippers are sailing the Vendee Globe while safe and dry at home thanks to an online version of the round-the-world yacht race.
“Virtual Regatta” has signed up some 300,000 players from around the world since the 20 real-life skippers set off from Sables d’Olonne in western France on November 10, on a three-month solo quest for yachting’s ultimate prize. “I’ve been immersed in it from the word go thanks to the real-time weather simulator,” Philippe Barrier, a cameraman and sailing enthusiast from the Paris area, told AFP.
“The day they left there were two possible routes: I headed due south before the wind dropped, and then I set a westerly course,” said the 38-year-old, whose boat “Le-Filou,” was ranked 10,047th on Thursday.
The game’s virtual sea was dark with boats this week as the thick swarm of competitors set off. Latecomers are free to join at any point, tacking on to the end of the race.
With real-time weather reports, feeding them accurate wind speed and direction, the players set a course as if they were alongside the real-life competitors.
“You can’t feel the spray, but you get a lot of the same sensations as at sea,” said Barrier. “I’m competitive by nature, so it’s amazing to be able to take part in a real race, in real time, with so many people.” And here of course, nobody gets hurt.
“It’s fun — you can run adrift, turn around, grind almost to a halt — but unlike the real skippers you don’t have to worry about colliding with a trawler,” said Louis Andre of the French online game firm Many Player, which developed “Virtual Regatta” in 2006.
“Our goal was to bring yachting to a wider public — we’ve achieved that tenfold!” said Andre, whose firm has since developed versions for other major races — the Route du Rhum, or Jacques Vabres.
Afficionados include the two-time Vendee Globe winner Michel Desjoyeaux, but around half of all players have no experience of sailing.
Weather maps are updated twice a day, at 7:57 a.m. and pm, for players to tweak their strategy.
“I try to spend as little time as possible at the computer — but to have good visibility over the coming seven days,” said Barrier, who plays mostly after his baby son is tucked up in bed.
“If I plan things right, then I only have to log on to check my course.” He estimates his daily playtime at half a hour — racing as a “purist” without add-on options.
For David Houzelot — codenamed “Dadouteam-1,” racing in around 6,000th position — the comfort of having satellite navigation, an automatic pilot for nighttime, and extra choice of sails was well worth paying 20 euros ($25). “Without it’s like navigating with a sextant,” joked the 43-year-old businessman, himself a yachtsman.
“The game is about playing with the wind, about thinking ahead, racing hard but also making friends,” he said.
“Lots of people play in a team, like a relay race. You can spend a minute or an hour on it.” But while safe from capsizing, the virtual skippers risk glitches of a modern kind, like one recent morning when a technical bug left the site off-limits for five hours, costing some players thousands of places in the ranking.




Twenty skippers began the real-life Vendee Globe race but 16 remain.
Kito de Pavant withdrew and one of the favorites, Marc Guillemot, quit when his keel suffered irreparable damage. Samantha Davies dismasted in strong winds, while Louis Burton, whose boat was hit by a trawler, pulled out after wind conditions made it impossible for him to return to Les Sables d’Olonne to repair a damaged shroud.

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: Social media is abuzz with the news of an 80-year-old man who has been relieved of his duties after working for four decades at the Prophet’s Mosque. Citizens have launched a campaign for the man, identified as Moqtada by publishing his photo...
DAMMAM: The World Heritage Committee of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has added the rock art in Hail to the World Heritage List. The addition was made during the committee’s 39th session in Bonn, Germany, and becam...
Huge projects change the faces of cities and great ambitions help create such projects. Madinah had its date with a quantum leap to usher in a new era of urban development. Such huge projects help achieve formidable civilization advancements and sign...
RIYADH: The Japanese ambassador to the Kingdom, Noriheiro Okoda, has held a meeting with Hashem Abdullah Yamani, president of the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (K.A.CARE), and discussed bilateral cooperation in the fields of atom...
AL-BAHA: Forty three percent of Al-Baha cannot be developed easily because of the region’s mountainous terrain.This is the view of Khaled Al-Sayegh, undersecretary for construction at the municipality, who was speaking at an event held at the College...
JEDDAH: An official at the Council of Saudi Chambers said the council’s members are discussing a regulation to submit to the Ministry of Labor and other government agencies to deny a number of privileges to companies that force its labor to work unde...
ABHA: With many families wanting new furniture during Ramadan, furniture and interior decorating shops are raising prices to more than double what they were before the month.Homeowner Zaina Mohammed says she used to change her home furniture every Ra...
RIYADH: Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTNH) President Prince Sultan bin Salman described the first visit by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman to Madinah as “historic.”In his comments following the visit which saw th...
MADINAH: Economists expected the volume of investments in Madinah’s economies during the coming few years to reach SR500 billion.The forecasted growth in the population, to reach 2.6 million people after 25 years, and the number of visitors to 12.2 m...
JEDDAH: It seems that many Saudi families are gradually coming to terms with the new reality of living in apartments, as building villas is not possible due to shortage of appropriate land.With the increasing display of housing units by the Ministry...
RIYADH: Migrant rights advocacy group Migrante-Middle East (M-ME) has lambasted their country’s leadership over the claim that the number of overseas Filipino workers are declining due to sustained economic growth in the Philippines.The group has cal...
RIYADH: A charitable foundation called “Smile” will be launched on Sunday night at the Al-Hokair Land in the Saudi capital to make people happy. “The foundation will be launched to make Saudi Arabia a center of smiles,” well-known television host and...
MAKKAH: The Kingdom has seen a sharp rise in the number of Umrah pilgrims to around 6 million from 1.5 million in the last 16 years. Moreover, the number of pilgrims overstaying their visas has come down to about 1 percent. The Ministry of Haj has be...
RIYADH: The King Khalid Foundation (KKF) said here recently that it has financed small enterprises (SMEs) run by 130 widows in some of the Kingdom’s provinces.KKF hosted an iftar party last week for local media at its headquarters in Riyadh at which...
JEDDAH: Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz bin Musaed, governor of the Northern Borders province, has died.He will be buried after Taraweeh prayers in Jeddah on Saturday, the Royal Court said in a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency. No other det...

Stay Connected

Facebook