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A Bee Line to the Finish!

BeeLineFinish [1]
The Vineyard Finish #1 – “Shortest” route in yellow, WINSTON and javakeda routes in red.

When WINSTON rounded The Cows and headed for the finish line at the end of The Vineyard race I smiled.

WINSTON was headed for the line at an angle.
I was going to do the same thing.
Instead of taking the shortest route to the finish, we were taking the quickest route.

It’s all about VMC

Velocity Made good on/along Course (VMC) is a metric that sounds really cool until you try to use it. Then three questions arise:

  1. What course are we talking about?
  2. How do we calculate the VMC heading?
  3. Once we have the VMC heading, does it do us any good?

Answering those questions in the general case can get intricate.  I am sure we will have more than one future post on the subject.
In the specific case at hand, however, these questions are easy to answer.

TheCourse2Finish [2]
The Vineyard Finish #2 — Measuring VMC with divider lines (in blue)

The Course is the direction of a line from The Cows to the Finish Line that is perpendicular to the Finish Line.  There are two easy ways to find that heading:

Either way I get about 304°T for that rhumb line course.

To calculate the VMC heading we need access to the boat’s polar table, the course (above), and the TWD and TWS expected at The Cows when we round (rounded values from the screenshot above).  If we want to measure time to finish, we will need the distance along our selected course.

We could use WX Inspector for this calculation.  And 76T’s blog presents a great graphic approach.
But lets use Kroppyer’s SPINNACER tool to calculate a VMC heading in this situation.   I prefer it because of its efficient UI and its small screen footprint.

SPINNACERcalc Base Case. (click on image to expand)

The base case is heading toward the finish line along the rhumb line of (304°T).

After I selected the right polar and entered the required data, SPINNACER gave me an estimated time to finish of 6m28s if I sailed down the rhumb line of 304°T.

SPINcalcVMCcase_r1 [4]
SPINNACERcalc VMC Case. (click on image to expand)

Calculating the VMC heading was a simple matter of ‘checking’ the Best VMC checkbox.   That yielded a COG of 195.475°, which I rounded to 195.5°T to keep my High School physics teacher happy regarding significant digits.

The new heading meant I needed to adjust the distance to the finish − 0.91nm in the base case became 0.92nm in the VMC case.  After that change, the new ETF was 6m18s − a 10 second improvement over the  base case.
In a close race like this, that could mean passing a boat between The Cows and the finish.
Clearly, WINSTON wasn’t taking any chances!