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Sailonline manual


1. Manual

Sailonline is a strategy simulator for ocean sailing which challenges both the novice and the expert. It lets you sail your boat over oceans around the globe easier than you can imagine. But, as in real life, in order to sail fast and to ultimately win races requires full dedication, extensive practice, knowledge and working skills. The simulator runs in real time which means that a race can be ongoing for days or even weeks. Luckily, there are autopilots installed in all boats so that you do not need to steer manually all the time. Small adjustments of your autopilot setting a couple of times per day is often sufficient. To enable realistic sailing the weather in which the boats sail is authentic along with both the charts and the boat performance. Hence, Sailonline lets you race the boats you otherwise just see from a distance.

1.1. Full Manuals in pdf Format


Sailonline Manual here

Alternate (Classic) Client Manual here


A manual is available here


A manual is available here


A manual is available here

A Beta client guide is available here

1.2. Getting started

*Step 1. Register here to create a user account. Your user account will be used in all races you choose to participate in.

*Step 2. Go to the the list of active races and click "Enter race now" on the race you wish to enter.

1.3. The client (your tool for steering the boat)

Most of the graphical user interface in the client software is intuitive even for novice sailors. Here is a brief introduction. In the map, the brown is land and the white is sailable water. You can zoom in and out by using the +/- symbols in the tool bar above the map. Your boat is bright pink. You can center the map over your boat by pressing the pink boat symbol. You steer your boat by setting a course or a TWA (explained below) either by pressing the "steering-wheel" symbol followed by picking a course on the map or by entering a desired value in the small window to the right of the map. Select the desired steering mode CC/TWA and click "Send Command" button. If you wanted the command to be delayed for some time just enter the desired delay-time (in decimal hours) and check the box to the left of the text "Delay command" before pressing "Send Command". In front of your boat is a "predictor" showing where your boat would be in 6 hours with the current forecast. Each open circle represents one hour of sailing, the smaller dots show 15 min each. The coloured arrows are showing the wind and the continuous iso-lines show points on the map with equal wind speed. Note that the wind colours correspond with the colours in the polar window. Previewing the weather is done by sliding the forecast-slider in the bar below the map. Try the slider and notice how the weather changes. When new forecasts are available the new weather automatically appears in the window and a notice is shown once loaded. The graph in the right screen, when the steer tab is selected, is called the polar. This shows you how the boat will perform in different wind conditions and headings. More on performance and the polar below.

1.4. Starting procedure

All boats are towed back to the starting line 1 hour before race start. From 1 hour before the start, until the start, the boats are held at the starting line. A command executed during this period will be the initial command for the boat at the start.

Example: Race starts 18.00 UTC. If a player sends a command, TWA 55 degrees at 17.32 UTC, the boat will sail TWA 55 degrees at 18.00 UTC when the boats are released.

Please note that you can also use a delayed command to be executed during the prestart phase - it has the same effect.

All boats start with a default performance loss.

1.5. The course, passing marks and the finish

The course is defined by a starting point, a number of marks (floating buoys or land marks) to be passed and a finish line to cross. All boats start at the starting point and are then to pass the buoys in the correct order and finally to cross the finish-line as soon as possible.

The next mark to pass is indicated by the text e.g. "pass north", "pass south" etc. The passing of the mark is registered as your boat is "in-the-middle" of last leg and the next leg (a leg is the travel between two marks). Marks must be rounded in the direction indicated by the arrows in the client. This rule is enforced automatically by the server.

At the end just cross the finish line anywhere you like. When you do that your boat will be "glued" to the position where you crossed the line. Your finish time will also be announced in the leaderboard.

1.6. Steering

The basic way of steering is to either set a constant compass course (CC) which simply means that the boat will go in a "straight line". The other steering mode is to set up the boat to keep a constant angle to the wind, to keep the true-wind-angle (TWA) constant. This means that if the wind changes in direction, the boat will change its heading to maintain the wanted TWA. You can set any TWA in the range from 0 to 180 degrees where TWA=0 means that the wind comes from straight ahead, TWA=180 means that the wind comes from behind and TWA=90 means the wind in from starboard side. Negative TWA means wind in from port side (port=left). You can choose to steer directly or pick a course on the map with the steering tool. You preset a command by the use of delayed commands. You simply set up the steering as described above and then state how many hours the command should be delayed. Delayed commands are a neat feature that lets you attend business meetings and wedding dinners while helming a 60-foot single handed catamaran in a full gale!

1.7. The chart and the race bounds

The shorelines are supplied by the US National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC). Resolution may vary depending on the race type and zoom level. Important to notice is that what you see is what is there at normal and high zoom. If you zoom out further the resolution will drop and give you a wider view. Be aware of small islands but all water is deep and sailable. Your boat can naturally only sail on water. If you collide with land the boat will stop, be pulled out from the coastline some distance and be somewhat damaged. The damage is expressed as a certain drop in boat speed (performance). This loss in performance is temporary and will vanish in a number of hours. Since the boat has stopped you need to send a new command to set the boat on a new course.

1.8. Cutting corners

Due to the implementation in the server, (that boats are moved in steps) a boat may actually cut a little land corner that was smaller than the step. It can happen to all boats but is nothing to rely on. Since small islands in SOL are called Sneaky Little Islands (SLI) this phenomenon is called SLI-jumping. SLI-jumping is allowed.

1.9. The boat performance

The boat performance is expressed in a so called polar curve, which is visible to you. The polar curve states the boat speed as a function of wind speed and TWA. Take time to study the plot to learn how to sail the boat efficiently. Different wind speeds are shown with different coloured curves. For a certain wind speed follow the corresponding coloured curve for all various TWAs around the boat. For a certain wind speed and TWA you can read the corresponding boat speed as represented by the distance from the origin to the coloured curve. The plot does not differentiate negative from positive TWAs since SOL boats are symmetric. Your boat generally performs at the polar curve boat speed (=100% performance in the polar window) but there are two ways of losing performance. If you hit land you lose quite a lot of performance. After changing TWA you also lose some percent of performance. Performance loss is always temporary. Depending on conditions you will regain 100% after a while.

1.10. Race types

There are basically two kinds of races, fleet-races and timed-races.

Fleet race: In a fleet race you typically register a boat during the registration phase in which pre-race practice sailing is allowed. One hour before the start all boats are automatically towed back to the starting point, stopped and moored there. This last hour before the start we call the prestart phase. During the prestart phase you can send commands and chat but the boat will not move. At the time of the race start all boats are let go simultaneously. The last command will be the one controlling the boat. First boat completing the course is the winner!

Timed race: In a timed race you may (within limits) start at any time you like. The time of execution of your first command will be your start time. There is no pre-race practice. This means that a start using a delayed command is possible and the start time will be the time when your boat starts moving. Complete the course and your total sailed time will be compared with others in the leaderboard. Once you have finished the course you may register a new boat and go for another try.

1.11. Weather

State of the art high resolution forecasts by Weathertech is used as the sailing environment. The resolution in both time and space varies depending on the race. The forecasts are true in the sense that we are in the simulator sailing in authentic weather. All boats sail in the wind forecasts at the 10 meter level. Usually, the client gives you access to sea level atmospheric pressures also. The forecasts are typically updated twice or four times per 24 hour period. Updates are fairly immediate and normally phased in during an hour or so. A notice will be shown when the client picks up the new weather, but there can be some time between when the new weather is ready and the client picks it up. Note that in some races new forecasts show up in the middle of the night and can mess with your carefully programmed route.

1.12. The actual sailing

The boats' actual sailing is done in the central server at Sailport and NOT in a user's computer. The client is only used for viewing and manipulation of your boat. Hence, you can disconnect and shut your computer down and your boat will still sail. The boats are moved forward (integrated) stepwise. The length in time between the steps varies accordingto server workload etc but is usually kept under 30 seconds.

1.13. The chat

The chat is there to be used! Choose your preferred language and go ahead and use it along with your judgement. The default window is English chat and this is used by most people.

1.14. Last Minute Changes

For various reasons adjustments and changes in the race setup, course route or other rules might be needed from time to time. Such adjustments are kept at a minimum but Sailonline here states that they might be necessary even during a race and should be regarded as "a part of the game".

1.15. Race closure

For several reasons Sailonline cannot keep races open for eternity. Races are closed (and all boats still on course will stop) when the administrators regard the race as "finished". This means, for example, that boats starting late cannot count on finishing the race. SOL allows as much time as is practicable for boats to finish.

1.16. The Rules

The aim is that most of the rules should be enforced automatically by the server. This means that, for example, when the server registers a passing of a waypoint that passing is ok. A boat can be disqualified and a user can be banned if improper use is detected or if too offensive comments are made in the chat.

1.17. Dictionary

Port: Left side of the boat.

Starboard: Right side of the boat.

Bow: The nose of the boat.

Stern: The aft most part of the boat.

TWA: True Wind Angle (ranging from -180 to 180 degrees), i.e the angle between the boat centreline and the incoming wind. TWA=0 means that the wind comes in straight from over the boat bow. Negative TWA indicates wind from the port side.

TWD: True Wind Direction (ranging from 0 to 360 degrees)is the angle *from * where the wind blows. TWD=0 means wind from the north, TWA=90 means wind from the east etc.

TWS: True Wind Speed in either of the units meters/second (m/s) or knots (kn).

Course: The direction of the boat velocity (0 to 360 degrees) which in this game is equal to the boat heading since no water currents are present.

Distance: is in this nautical game measured in nautical miles. One nautical mile equals 1852 m.

BS: Boat Speed is measured in knots. One knot equals one nautical mile per hour.

VMG: Velocity Made Good is the velocity component parallel to the TWD. By convention, positive VMG means that you are sailing towards the wind.

VMC: Velocity Made good relative to the Course is not really unambiguously defined but usually means the boat velocity component parallel to the loxodrome from boat to the next waypoint.

Time: Is throughout the game measured with reference to Universal Time Coordinated UTC.

Performance: The percentage of boat speed you have in relation to the performance polar. You will have 100% if you haven’t hit land or just made a course change, your performance will go down for some time if you have hit land.

Great circle: A great circle constitute the shortest route between two locations on the globe. In the map projection we use a great circle may appear to have a curvature, however on the globe the path is straight. See Wikipedia, Great circle. In Sailonline you can choose to navigate using great circles.

Loxodrome (Rhumb line): A loxodrome, or rhumb line, is a route between two locations on the globe with the feature of having constant true compass course. See Wikipedia, Loxodrome. In Sailonline you can choose to navigate using Loxodromes.

1.18. FAQs

Q: Can me and a friend "share" a boat although we do not share the same computer, or even live in the same country?

A: Yes, no problem. Just share your login details and you are all set to share the boat. Only question is - do you trust your friend?

Q: Why is it not allowed to have more than one boat?

A: We like to give all players a fair chance, multiple boats is considered cheating and therefore not allowed.

Q: Can my boat collide with other boats or the buoys?

A: No, the only thing you can collide with is land.

Q: Is "my wind" affected by the presence of nearby boats?

A: No, such effects are not included in the simulator.

Q: If i loose my internet connection while playing, can I still steer my boat and wait for the connection to reconnect?

A: No you cannot manipulate your boat while you are offline

Q: Is leeway (sideways drift) included in the game?

A: This is a tricky and somewhat philosophical question actually. As a user, you do not see any leeway and you do thus not have to account for it. Leeway is here defined as the angle between the ship longitudinal axis and the velocity vector. This, however does not imply a hydrodynamic simplification since our boats are equipped with fins/keel blades which produce the necessary side force by their non-symmetric cross sections and/or mounting angles (non-parallell to the ship longitudinal axis).

Q: Are currents and tidal effects included?

A: No, we have tried that but have chosen to leave currents out.

Q: Are effects from ocean waves on boat performance included?

A: No, mainly since reliable methods for calculating this effect are not available.

1.19. Links

A few related links that you may find usefull.

mobile client (SYC members only) here

Last Modified: 2014-05-02 14:21:37 by RainbowChaser - [ Snip Changes ] [ Wiki History ]


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