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Sunday, September 26. 2010
America's Cup update
Larry Ellison seeks to change the America's Cup rules, so it's not just for billionaires.
You know - I hope he pulls this off. It's his prerogative to change the design rules and site for racing - I hope he does it. When you consider the amount of money these one design hi-tech maxi-racers burn through, it sounds like he's on the right track.
State-of-the-art one design smaller boats with strict rules sounds good to me. Then it is all about wind, weather and tactics and not the biggest and deepest pocket.
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Not designed to be beautiful - designed to be fast - very fast.
To play the Devils advocate; theres little enough R&D being done in this country, if a few billionaires want to want to drop millions on sailboat design I say, "More power to them".
While true enough, the R&D that goes into a boat like Alinghi or BMW-Oracle does not really benefit anybody other than the people who build these boats. Certain principles of naval architecture are constants - the physics of moving a hull through water are immutable and varied. Water density has as much to do with how a boat moves as does wind, tide, temperature...those are only part of a whole host of factors that one cannot control no matter how much you engineer and research a boat design.
Admittedly, the materials science in these boats are something that requires some thought, but even there the mechanics of forming, shaping and strengthing a hull and sail plan are fairly well known concepts. Yes you handle carbon fiber differently, but the concept of reactive resins to set and shape carbon sheets are the same as fiberglass - you have compensate for humidity, temperature and catalyst induction times for the resins - same as fiberglass - in fact, the same tables are used.
I will grant that the whole idea of the rigid wing sail was innovative, but it is not a completely unknown concept - it was one of those ideas that was waiting for the materials technology to catch up to it.
It is really more the application of basic engineering principles using given materials in designing boats rather pure R&D to discover something new.
So, Ellison wants a more egalitarian approach to the games of the hyper rich, eh? "It's his prerogative"? Why his?
Okay, change the rules, the actual competitors will use their gajillions to continue their dominance. If the new rules result in the exclusion of truly fast racers, the real competitors will just start another racing series. Maybe they'll call it the Ellison Cup.
Well yes - it is his to do with as he wishes. It's all written down in the "Deed of Gift" for the America's Cup.
I think he would like to open up the competition to others and make it like it used to be. You have to remember that the money war in America's Cup racing wasn't started by the Americans - it was started by the Aussies, continued by the Kiwis from New Zealand and extended by the Swiss. Ellison was playing by their rules and he won. It is true that he won some rules battles with Alinghi, but in the end, he used their rules against them.
And that was how the Aussies won in '83. They went with shaving the edges of the design rules very closely, but in the end, it was legal.
Setting up a system in which one design boats with strict rules, set with a monetary limit to design, build would being competition back to what it was originally all about - seamanship. A racing campaign costing $5-6 million, half of that being boat costs, is doable with sponsorship. $400 million, which is what Ellison spent, is a little out of reach for the average syndicate.
it was originally all about - seamanship
no it wasn't. it was about designing and building fast american-style boats. and george steers did exactly that.
Where David sees uglyness, I see an incredible piece of high-tech machinery. Faster than any other sailboat on the planet.
The only problem with multi-hulls, it that they are very stable... upside-down.
There is a great picture in Google Images of the Oracle boat flying two hulls of the water. And it didn't have it's rigid sail installed yet. :>)
I'd like to go to rules on the country of origin of the sailors and designers with are similar to those of the World Cup in Football/Soccer. Otherwise we'd just have, "My Kiwis and Aussies can beat your Kiwis and Aussies." For example Bruce Farr is a Kiwi transplanted to the US and Clay Oliver, of the double bottom, is from the US and a USNA graduate who worked for the Kiwis.
For those who remember the original sail-off series was for the defenders and not the challenger. There were many rules back in the day that sort of ensured that the Cup would stay with the NYYC, such as having to sail over on its own bottom and the origin of all the parts being from the challenging country. Want to put some excitement in the series? How about a double elimination series like March Madness?
It was the materials science I considered the main benefit, I am probably wrong, but the first interesting use of Carbon Fiber I remember hearing about was in the world of sailing.
I lost my reference stockpile of old magazine articles when we lost the house in a fire many years ago, but there was a great magazine called "Inventions and Technology" that was the "American Heritage" of technology.
Just googled and found it, I thought it was gone I haven't seen it on the newsstand for years.
Actually, it was the aircraft engine industry that first made use of early carbon fiber - can't remember who exactly - maybe United Technologies? just looked it up - Rolls Royce and, as strange as it may seem, the British are really the main developers of carbon fiber in the early days. Who knew?
Yes, I remember "Inventions and Technology" very well. Glad to see it is still being published.
"Racing Improves the Breed" is an old saying and one with a lot of truth to it, be it horses, automobiles or sail boats.
Let the sponsors spend whatever they want to build the best boats with the best piloting information systems.
This is a good and voluntary "trickle down" system for us people with more common sense than to blow millions on a hobby.
And back in the good old days of NASCAR when you could actually tell car models apart, car dealers used to say "Win on Sunday, Sales on Monday". :>)
Which, when you think about it, might help our sagging marine manufacturing sector. Worked for Hobie and has worked very well for Vanguard who makes the Sunfish and Laser makes of simple sail boats. They sell those two models all over the world.
Side note: I've been to the Vanguard factory in Bristol, RI. Amazing operation.
ensured that the Cup would stay with the NYYC
Oh I agree - not even worth an argument drat the luck. :>)
Time will tell of course whether Ellison makes good on his idea. And I like the double elimination idea - that's a good one.