Sail a Tall Ship from bed or armchair!

Sailonline Tall Ship Racing 2016

How about racing a Tall Ship from your bed or armchair?  

If your imagination has ever been captured by the sight of a Tall Ship in a film or documentary, or even when reading Patrick O’Brien’s Aubrey & Maturin series, you will have wanted to experience sailing one.

This summer an online virtual sailing navigation organisation, Sailonline, will be sailing four different tall ships against the Class A vessels, like Jubilee Sailing Trust ship, Lord Nelson in the 2016 Tall Ships Races organised by Sail Training International.
Here’s the info from Sailonline:   


Why am  telling you all this?  Simply because I have been a volunteer OPS Admin with Sailonline since 2010 and finding Sailonline, shortly after my medical situation began requiring me to spend my time mostly at home, has been like a lifeline to me.  Whether you have been unwell for a very long time, or like me now, mostly at home and on-bed, after previously being out/about, working, travelling overseas and generally active in the real world, to find a way to engage with that real world beyond one’s doorstep while accepting the curtailing of “normal life” can be very challenging.   Sailonline gives everyone with an internet connection access to the real world of sailing.

Sailonline is a free to play wind navsim sail-racing game.  It has quite an old-fashioned UI, but this disguises a sophisticated and very realistic platform.  By racing here, you can easily learn the basics of sailing navigation and even how to use routing software, such as that used in great round-the-world races, like the Volvo Ocean Race or the Clipper RTW Race.  Routing software speeds up the manual calculation of chosen routes and fine tunes it in a fraction of the time it would take if you were to use spreadsheets or a calculator, which is why it is an essential for all yachties planning on venturing further afield than their local waters.

Sailonline uses NOAA wind files (Gribs), updated 4x a day and winds are fed into each race at 10min intervals so you really are sailing in as close to real-time conditions as possible.  Many SOLers around the globe are sailors in reality, racing or cruising a range of boat types, although not many have sailed a Tall Ship, and frequently say that their nav skills have improved from racing on Sailonline.  By learning about yacht racing on Sailonline, I can now happily eavesdrop (via YouTube/Livestream) on conversations between yachties and know what they are talking about!

As you can tell I am very happy to be associated with Sailonline, as without it I am sure, over the past years of being mostly housebound and unable to socialise or get out/about in reality, I would have been far less mentally stimulated and would never have dreamed of being able to (sail) race the world and feel part of a wider sailing community as I do now.

The Tall Ship series on Sailonline is a brilliant way for sailors / SOLers to experience just what it was like to sail the oceans in the early days of sailing and seafaring.  You can begin to comprehend why harbours were built where they were and why ships sailed specific routes, not just by reading but by doing.  For anyone interested in the history of ships and marine architecture, these races really shouldn’t be missed.

So do come and check it out for yourself.

 P.S. something else I’ve been teaching myself to do purely as a result of Sailonline is … basic graphics!  Look at the Sailonline homepage and you can see a little of my “work”!!

If you haven’t yet visited my website, please do so.

My Website


Jubilant’s Fastnet Race 2013 – Eleven Days and counting!

It really doesn’t seem that long ago that a group of SOLers (virtual sailors who race on were idly chatting one evening in race chat about the fun it would be to race, in reality, in the Rolex Fastnet Race. The comment was out there in chat. There seemed to be a pause in conversation, just a really small one, but you could sense the wind of possibility swirl through people’s minds, and then … several SOLers chipped in with enthusiastic, encouraging and wishful comments. The thought had been engendered, though, and it wasn’t too long before the seed of “daring to dream” began to grow.

Sailonline may be a free-to-play virtual sailing navigation simulator, but it is also firmly entrenched in the real sailing world with many SOLers sailing in reality. A genuine meeting place where landlubbers and ocean racers rub shoulders and where egos (mostly) are left at the log-in screen. There is one fundamental rule applicable to all SOLers, though, which is, “be yourself” – no-one minds if you’ve never sailed, or if you sailed 40yrs ago, or if you own your own yacht, or if you compete regularly in international sail-racing competitions… everyone is welcome to participate.

Thus it was not beyond the realms of possibility that a group of SOLers, with relevant experience, might form a crew to qualify for and compete in The Rolex Fastnet Race. With a core group of Brits, one of whom had a yacht that with a little time, a lot of effort and some money, could be brought up to “code”, and a scattering of SOLers from across the globe, all of whom were prepared to undergo the relevant safety training and to satisfy RORC’s crew requirements, the project began to take shape.

The two qualifying races that Jubilant participated in, The Cervantes Trophy and The Myth of Malham, were real shake-down exercises – highlighting the strengths and the weaknesses among the crew. For a disparate group of people who had only met in the virtual sailing world of Sailonline to commit to racing as a crew in one of Britain’s toughest offshore races meant that it was essential, almost from the first moment, that a sense of “crew” was developed. Without this sense of teamwork, safety is compromised and, at this level of sailing, where a high level of sailing competence and navigational skill is expected, safety has to be paramount. Sadly, personal reasons led to two potential racers dropping out – the Australian and a Brit – so ultimately the crew of SOLers that is taking Jubilant to sea on 11 August 2013 will be:

ybw_mjm (GBR) – Martin Johnson (Skipper)

Amigo do Boteco1 (POR/BRA) – Armando Faria
BER_Baggus (BER) – Jeremy Burnham
Chaos (USA) – Tony Leigh
Gilles (ITA) – Gilberto Gaitano
sadlersailing (GBR) – Nigel Gilchrist
CG (GBR) – Sophie Turner

Jubilant is ready – thanks to the sterling work of her skipper, she was fully accredited on the RORC system with plenty of time in hand – and is just awaiting her crew.
Martin has no distance to travel as he lives aboard Jubilant. Sophie is “down the road” in Plymouth. Armando will be flying in from Brazil, Jeremy from Bermuda and Tony from E Coast USA. Gilberto will be flying in from Germany, while Nigel will be sailing back from the shores of Belgium/Holland

With just eleven days to go, focus is moving rapidly towards racing, tactics and the challenge that is the legendary weather of the Fastnet Race!

…COUNTDOWN NOTES to be continued…

Track Jubilant on AIS

Jubilant’s Fastnet Campaign Blog

The Cervantes Trophy … when virtuality will become reality….


On Saturday 4 May 2013, a 38ft yacht will set off from Cowes on the Isle of Wight in this year’s Cervantes Trophy crewed entirely by sailors who first met on Sailonline (SOL) is probably the most realistic virtual sailing navigation simulator on the internet and hosts races around the globe – some courses are raced in partnership with real yacht racing and other organisations, while others can be pure works of fiction. The boats sailed on Sailonline range widely from longships and Tall Ships, to modern yachts and ocean racers.

SOLers (those who sail on, are a mixed bunch – from landlubbers who love the idea of sailing, through current and former inshore and offshore and even ocean racers, right up to an America’s Cup yacht designer. From all walks of life and all ages SOLers meet online to race, to learn about sailing, to learn and hone navigations skills (even learning how to use current yacht-racing routing software). It is a true home of sailing.

Many SOLers do sail and do race yachts of various kinds but for the first time ever, a group of SOLers from across the globe are forming a crew to race, in reality, in this year’s Rolex Fastnet Race.

Their boat is Jubilant, a beautiful Moody 38s, owned and lived aboard by her skipper who has worked tirelessly to make sure that she now meets all the technical requirements for racing. This weekend, in the Cervantes Trophy, Jubilant and her new crew will be seeing if they can complete their first Fastnet qualifying race. Jubilant’s crew pool is made up of SOLers from Australia, Bermuda, Brazil, Italy, the UK and the USA. For this first qualifying race, crewmembers come from Bermuda and the UK.

Fair winds and following seas Jubilant!

Track Jubilant on AIS

Jubilant’s Fastnet Campaign Blog