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“Sailing is really about intelligence and making the right decisions. There are few disciplines in sailing where your muscles are very important. It’s more of a cerebral activity. In gaming, you can’t capture the physical elements of acceleration, exhaustion or the weather, so a more cerebral sport is more easily adapted to a video game. For our Offshore game, 50% of the players don’t know how to sail, but they love the strategy of it,” he says. The digital world of e-sailing also offers experiences denied to real-world sailors. Intangibles like starting lines, waypoints, wind direction and currents are indicated graphically, giving participants solid data points that would be more elusive in the real world. In fact, sailors from the UK’s RYA (Royal Yachting Association) have used Virtual Regatta for tutorials on race start technique, for novice sailors and experts working to perfect their skills. The RYA YouTube channel has a good number of ‘top tips’ videos, illustrated with playthroughs from Virtual Regatta. Guigné remains involved intimately with the development of game features. For example, at one stage of the game’s development, ship collisions were incorporated to make for

NO STORMY WATERS There’s incredible realism within the experience, but without the negative parts, like ship collisions

greater realism. But Guigné found that, while the collisions made for a more factually correct experience, they added an unnecessarily negative aspect to the gameplay. He sees Virtual Regatta as a way to give a realistic experience of sailing, without any of the bad parts. “When creating a game, I want to give the player the best experience. I don’t remind them of what is shitty in our sport, I want to give them what is super. If it’s something that we wish we could remove in the physical world, we remove it,” he says. As the virtual Vendée Globe continues over the next couple months, it’s set to receive some of the same high-profile attention its real-world counterpart gets. YouTubers stream their own analyses of the virtual race or commentary on their own strategy, comparing it with the real event. The duration of the Vendée Globe and its emphasis on long-term strategy offer a rare opportunity for virtual athletes to play right alongside real-world athletes, with a wealth of data generated on both sides to compare and geek out over. “E-sailing has a large impact on sailing. We help people come to sailing, but we help sailors improve – and we help keep the passion alive, even when they can’t sail,” concludes Guigné.


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