Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 76 / SEPTEMBER 1986 / PAGE 46


The American Challenge: A Sailing Simulation

Tony Roberts

Requirements: Apple ll-series computer with at least 64K RAM. IBM PC or PCjr with 128K RAM and DOS 2.0 or above. Graphics card required for use with PC. Commodore 64 (available early fall).

The pleasures of sailboat racing are effectively recreated in The American Challenge: A Sailing Simulation from Mindscape and Tom Snyder Productions. Fashioned after the America's Cup races, the goal of the game is to win all the preliminary heats. This, in turn, gains you the right to challenge the Australians in an attempt to regain the Cup for the United States. Should you manage to beat Australia in the program's Cup Race, you become eligible for a contest that could win you a trip to Australia to watch the 1987 America's Cup races in person (the contest closes on October 30, 1986).

Taking The Challenge

To play the game, you choose a course; the computer displays an overhead view of the course and shows you a suggested route around it. Sailing against a boat piloted by the computer, you jockey for position and attempt to cross the starting line just as the horn sounds.

The computer sails a pretty good race. It's possible, but not easy, to beat it, and there's little room for error if you hope to win. You control your boat's direction, sail trim, and centerboard position. At any time during the race, you can press the space bar to return to the overhead view, which shows the paths both boats have taken. Press the space bar again and the race resumes. Other controls allow you to look right and left off your board and to zoom in on the competition or zoom back for a wider angle view.

Seven of the eight courses are based on the courses used in actual sailboat races. Each race becomes progressively more difficult as the currents become stronger and your compass is taken away.

You're not to sail the Cup Race until your boat has beaten the computer at all seven of the preliminary races. Even for someone familiar with sailboat racing, it will take quite a while to become that proficient.

Racing against the computer is a challenge, but also becomes predictable. The computer maintains a record of the best time for each course and sails a course the same way each time until it is beaten.

Two-Computer Version

One way to eliminate this predictability is to choose the two-player option. However, this choice requires that you have two computers connected by modem or a null modem cable, and both computers must be running the program. With this option, you can send messages to the other captain. This communication becomes necessary to settle disputes regarding collisions or possible rules violations.

Sailing against another human adds to the enjoyment of the game, but it also slows things down a bit. If you are using 300 bit-per-second modems, the races take from five to twenty minutes each.

One other option allows you to race a high-speed motorboat around the courses. This can be fun, but don't expect to take on the Australians with anything but wind power.

While explaining the program, the manual also imparts quite a bit of information about sailing itself, including sailing basics, racing strategy, and right-of-way rules. The package even includes a 45 r.p.m. phono record with a sailing tutorial for novices.

The American Challenge: A Sailing Simulation
3444 Dundee Road
Northbrook, IL 60062
Apple II series/IBM floppy version $39.95
Commodore version (available early fall) $29.95