Ship speeds revealed, for real

If you’ve ever wondered which ships are fastest in which sail configuration, wonder no longer.
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There is a lot of accepted wisdom when it comes to sailing in Sea of Thieves.

Not long after launch, pirates discovered that when a sloop’s sails are directly squared against the wind, the ship travels faster than with the sails angled to either side. Even now, that is still occasionally disputed in the community. And the Brigantine is faster than the galleon. Or is it?

YouTuber kiwhen recently decided to find out the facts of the situation with as much accuracy as possible.

The result is a fascinating look at the physics of the game. To ascertain speed, you need to figure out the amount of distance travelled over a fixed time. But think about the logistics of doing that in Sea of Thieves! The wind changes constantly, you might sail in and out of calm waters – there’s just too much variation in sailing moment to moment to get anything close to a reliable result.

With this in mind, kiwhen wrote some code that effectively created a virtual GPS he could take readings from. This in itself opened up a can of worms. For example, there’s no ruler or tape measure in Sea of Thieves, so how big are things in the game world? It’s worth watching the whole video as kiwhen does a fantastic job of talking through his problem solving in this regard.

So, what’s the fastest ship?

Well, it depends. The sloop is indeed the fastest directly against the wind, with the galleon being the fastest directly with the wind (just) – but that’s not the whole story. Wind direction and sail configuration factor in heavily, and you may be surprised (or perhaps not) to learn that the Brig is faster than the galleon in certain circumstances.

Watch the video above to get the full rundown; the results start about 6:15 through the video.

(And yes, we now have absolute confirmation that the sloops does indeed sail slightly faster with its sails squared directly against the wind when sailing into a headwind.)


Kiwhen does a great of breaking down every single wind/sail configuration on each ship. But if you’re simply wondering what is the best way to maximise your own ship’s speed – for both general sailing and for escapes – we’ll sum up:

Top speed for all ships, respectively

  • Crosswind from behind, full sails with the wind

Sloop advantage

  • Sail directly into the wind with sails squared directly against the wind

Brigantine advantage

  • Crosswind from behind, full sails with the wind

Galleon advantage

  • Crosswind from the front, sails angled with the wind (see 7:17 of the video)

Hopefully you can use this knowledge to shore up your sailing skills. Happy sailing, pirates!

Note: This experiment was done on version 1.4.5 of the game.

Via: Reddit where kiwhen has also answered some questions from the community. Update: Some further discussion here.


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