Saturday, June 28, 2008

Surfline shuts down

Economic pressures take their toll on surf sims; more surf sims to close

The view of Surfline Epic Rezzable from Surfline Aloha Rezzable

Rezzable, one of Second Life's leading sim owner/developers, announced the closing of Surfline Aloha and Surfline Epic sims on Saturday, half-way through what has been a very up and down year for Rezzable's surfing venture. Most of Surflines' waves were turned off for much of February and March and Rezzable created a new temporary surf sim at the end of March for the Surfline sponsored Second Life Surfing Association (SLSA) competition. Surfline then re-launched brand new landscaped versions of Surfline Aloha and Surfline Epic mid-April, just in advance of the re-scheduled SLSA Surfline surfing competition on 26 April 2008. However, the economics clearly weren't working for Rezzable and the Surfline sims will be permanently closed down at the end of this month.

"Surfline has seen many wonderful moments and I know each visitor and guest will agree with me that it certainly was one of the best surfing places in Second Life," said Gweneth Lange, Surfline Brand Manager on Saturday. "However, Rezzable is still very much here and there's always lots to do."

Rezzable is renowned for creating engaging content-rich experiences in Second Life and its new Surfline sims were certainly rated highly by the surfing community. Now it seems surfing is coming off the map at Rezzable forever and according to industry sources, we can expect to see more surf sim closures due to the harsher economic realities of Second Life.

Maintaining a surf sim is expensive

"When the the bulk of the surfing community is spending time at only a couple of surf locations in Second Life, those locations that don't see traffic will close down," said ATown Fall, owner of TCH Estates. "Cuts need to be made somewhere and, it's sad, but it's often in places that are fun but with low income draws. And there is no reason to offer something that is expensive to run when people are not using it. For the record, TCH Epic Surf zone will remain open and fully operational."

Maintaining a surfing sim with waves that perform well is an expensive operation, particularly so given the state of the Second Life economy. Many Second Life businesses witnessed a sharp downturn in April due to Havok4 related disruptions and average land prices dropped by half in the second quarter forcing Linden Lab to freeze land supply earlier this month. A full-spec surf sim costs US$ 295 per month in tier fees, before looking at other costs associated with surf sim management.

"It's a shame that Surfline is closing and this is something a lot of surfers don't realise and appreciate enough: sim owners have to pay about US$300 every month to keep the sim alive," Radical Twang, co-owner of Reaction. "Full surf sims don't generate income, people just see it as "yeah sweet.. cool surf spot". I certainly wouldn't have a full beach sim without my store to cover the costs. I foresee more closing due to financial issues, not everyone can afford to provide something so expensive, without any real return"

Lack of support from the community?

"It is a real shame to see Surfline go, it was one of my favorites," laments Bishara Estate Manager VW Sands, who is also ranked 6th in the SLSA season competition table. "Most people do not understand what a full spec sim costs. Add to tier fees the costs of running contests, gifts, prizes, activities, staff and so on and you can see that this costs a fortune. Majini is no exception. We rely on the guests to help us pay for all this, either through sales of surf related products or direct donations. For sims like Majini to live on and remain great places to hang out and surf, the surfing community is going to have to help out or more and more sims will pull the plug. Simple economics."

Carenahh Kuu, owner of Helio Estates, which combines surfing, water sports and residential sims, agrees "It is hard to keep surfing sims going for the public, since they are not revenue makers and now there is more economic pressure as well. Surfline is a great loss to the surfing community; it has been around from almost the beginning and I hate to see it go. I can relate to how hard it is for Gwen and her team, having had to give up Monkeh Barrel myself earlier this year."

"We all want great places to surf, but have become spoiled or perhaps just unaware of the economics of what these sims actually cost the owners. Let's hope that the really great surfing sims don't just turn into ad-farm, Zingo center, commercial, 'legal gambling', neon-glowing, shady, money-first billboards as some already have, just to stay on the grid!" adds VW.

One last surf
Meanwhile, surfers have already begun heading down to Surfline to pay tribute and surf the waves there for the last time. "Surfline was a fantastic place to surf," said Pova Rustamova, SLSA season one champion surfer. "I loved it and its a crying shame we can't keep it open."

For those that want to paddle out for the last time at Surfline, the last day open day for the sim will be Monday 30 June 2008.

Updated 4am SLT 29 June 2008

Useful links
SurfWatch: Rezzable changes Surfline venue (17 Apr 08)
URL: More images of Surfline on Flickr (courtesy of Socks Clawtooth)
SLURL: Surfline Aloha Rezzable


28 June 2008 -- SurfWatch is reporting live from the Majini Island on the VSA Surf Jam 5 -- Starting Saturday 28 June 2008 from 1100 hrs Second Life Time (SLT or PDT) or 1800 hrs GMT.


This is the fifth VSA Surf Jam of the year, following an ill-fated Surf Jam 4, which was cancelled due to Second Life technical issues. Today's event takes place today on Majini beach's main wave break. 16 surfers are expected to take part in the first four competition heats (see live results for information on heat draws). SurfWatch will post the competition heat draws, semi finals results and finals results only for Surf Jam 5.

SurfWatch Results is also available on the mobile (cellular) Internet via SurfWatch Mobile

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

BOARD REVIEW -- Surfwidow Beaumont Windsurfers

By Socks Clawtooth, Senior Furry Correspondent.

The new SWB Wave Pro Windsurfer

Surfwidow Beaumont is no stranger to wind and water and has developed two different types of Second Life windsurf boards, the first of which was the RSX range that harnesses real Second Life wind power. She hosts windsurf races every Monday at 11am SLT in Plum Gut using her RSiX windsurf boards. Surfwidow's new product is a wave board, which is designed to be stunt specific and work with Heather Goodlife waves.

The new SWB Wave Pro Windsurfer, comes with a lot of items. The system itself comes in two parts, the board and rail, which you rez into the water, and the sail which attaches to your avatar. This makes the sail "phantom", and prevents the sail from being locked into the curl of a pipe wave. The sail also has three prims to place numbers into for easy identification and the full windsurfer kit comes with the numbers.

Aesthetically, the SWB is very realistic. It has multiple foot straps, which are adjustable, and comes with a 'harness race pant' to complete the look. The board is completely modifiable, so you can adjust the straps and placements for your avatar's feet. All of the parts are copy/mod, and it's encouraged that you take time to make copies and edit the parts to fit you. You can also recolor the board in open chat with simple commands.

The SWB is very responsive in the water, requiring a lighter touch than its competitors, and at speed it makes very tight turns. It also has a distinct reverse, handy to back out of a bad place if you need to. Stunts on this board are a lot easier as well. Pressing the 'Page up' key gives you a simple bunny hop style jump. Press and hold 'Page up' key for long Robby Naish Big Air: over 10 meters of height! Pressing the 'Page down' key gives you a forward loop and a very loud 'Woohoo!' with it!

In our testing, the SWB rode well on epics and pipeipeline waves, but the epics were much easier to ride. Most of the stunts required a lot of timing to avoid launching over the wave and landing behind it It's possible, however, to catch up to the wave and jump back over it from the back to get back on wave It's also highly recommended you read the notecards that come with the kit, they detail how to stop the forward loops.

The only down side is the lack of user control on stunt work. Carving back and forth on epics is very difficult, and doing tabletops or similar stunts seems impossible. It's easy to run back and forth, and with the right timing you can do an impressive front flip and land on wave to keep going. These windsurfers are very easy for anyone to jump on and start riding, with a minimal amount of information. It correctly handles more like a sailing craft than a surfboard. As long as you remember that, you can rip up the waves without a problem.

Another opular Surfwidow product that is the RSiX RaceWind Windsurfer. These are built specifically for racing. The kit comes with two models, red and yellow. Both also can be personalised with numbers, as with the SWB, and the board is recolorable in the same way.

Racing boards are purely controlled by the Second Life wind. Pushing forward will change the sail angle, but not make you move forward. You also need to tell the craft to raise the rigging (rigup) or to stop (moor), and it takes some getting used to. There is such a thing as 'race wind' as well, but you get into that more when you get into racing. The ride is very technical, requiring some working knowledge on how sailing works in Real Life. You have to constantly tack, check the wind direction, adjust the sail angle to the wind (sheeting), and switch your stance to match the wind direction. It's not an easy task, but well worth it when you make your way around a course in a good time.

Both boards are available at WOOT on Jetset Island, where you can try out the RS:X for yourself just off the back of the store. If you rez the trial windsurfer, you'll catch the 'windsetter' and be able to have a consistent breeze to move you along. Surfwidow Beaumont windsurf boards cost L$375 each.

Useful links
SurfWatch: Surfing calendar - June-July 2008
SLURL: WOOT, Jetset Island

SLURL: Plum Gut
URL: Some windsurfing theory (US Sailing)