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Old 11-09-2007, 16:53   #1
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Alinghi proposes unlimited downwind sails

America's Cup precoverage... Apparently Brad Butterworth mentioned during a recent press conference "We're thinking about not even measuring the size of the downwind sails, just letting the boats carry what they want."

It might bring a wee bit more interest back to the event. Sort of like Nascar racing; people watching for that downwind leg to see masts exploding/driving down through keels...
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Old 11-09-2007, 20:23   #2
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Sort of like Nascar racing; people watching for that downwind leg to see masts exploding/driving down through keels.
Nothing beats explosions and crashes track side for excitement. On TV it just isn't that great. While I don't see it myself the Mid Atlantic is big NASCAR country. I don't see the Bubbas switching to yacht racing any time soon.

Exploding masts are here to stay as reduced weights will keep them exploding for many years to come.
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Old 11-09-2007, 22:14   #3
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Redneck yachty checking in....

I like most anything that moves, but stuff that thunders and burns rubber is good too.
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Old 11-09-2007, 22:36   #4
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I really don't see why they would go down that path. Sure it might make the boats a little quicker downwind, but in a classic AC windward/leeward what are we talking? Assuming a 70' waterline length, the hullspeed is only about 11 knots so, maybe 15knots downwind? Even with the proposed 90' boats they will still only be a handful of knots faster. Allowing unlimited downwind sail area will still only increas the top speed by a couple of knots. Even if they manage to get up around the 18 knot mark, that is still only about 20 miles per hour, which is only marginally faster than a 100m sprinter can run, or a f**kload slower than this fat old man manages on his pushbike.

The point of the AC, for me, is that it is supposed to be fought out between 2 boats that are very evenly matched for speed / performance, so that it comes down to (a) crew work & (b) tactic & match racing skill. Does it actually matter whether the race takes place at and average of 13mph or 14.5mph? Not to me, anyway.
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Old 12-09-2007, 00:34   #5
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Sure it might make the boats a little quicker downwind, but in a classic AC windward/leeward what are we talking?
The race lasts hours, but is sometimes decided by a few seconds. A speed improvement of 0.1% might be the difference between winning and losing. If the other guy makes his boat 0.5% faster, but I make my boat 1% faster, I will win by a comfortable margin.

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The point of the AC, for me, is that it is supposed to be fought out between 2 boats that are very evenly matched for speed / performance, so that it comes down to (a) crew work & (b) tactic & match racing skill.
The America's Cup races are obviously not about two evenly matched boats. Each participant hopes to gain an advantage by making a better boat, and the competition is clearly set up to encourage this.

After all, if it were really only about the skill of the crew, you wouldn't let them use their own boats. You would build a fleet of identical boats, assign each crew to a boat at random, and then rotate the boats so that each crew sails each boat in the fleet. There would be no design differences, and even effects from manufacturing variations would be shared among all the crews.

The America's Cup competition is already under way.

I wonder what advantage Alinghi thinks they can gain from this proposed rule.
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Old 12-09-2007, 04:05   #6
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About the only fun I get from watching the AC is seeing what is going to break. To me the rules are unimportant as long as they are fixed early enough that the teams can find ways to exploit them. Personally there are a number of other races that are more interesting than AC such as the big tris in the Jacques Vabre. This may sound a little strange for a guy who races monohulls, but let's face it, they are sloooowwwwww.

As a spectator sport, yacht racing will always be about the event and not the race. Watching racing on SAIL.TV can get really boring simply because the wind can be so inconsistent. Bubba ain't hanging around for twenty minutes to see if the wind will pickup and finally push someone over the finish line. Offshore racing is good but it may be too expensive to broadcast to be economically feasable.
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Old 12-09-2007, 10:48   #7
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About the only fun I get from watching the AC is seeing what is going to break. To me the rules are unimportant as long as they are fixed early enough that the teams can find ways to exploit them.
Yacht racing on a good day. Sorry folks unless you are on the water and in the boat it's about as boring as it gets. This is a sport about showing up more than watching. I would love to go for the ride and can appreciate all that goes into it but unless the beer is free I really don't care to watch. Removing the rules for downwind sails isn't a big deal. Removing all the rules for everything isn't a big deal either. Allowing deck cannons would make it worth watching on TV. I hope we don't need to go that far. Not everything in the world needs to be on TV to be a good thing. High tech pretending to be low tech is OK with me. Making a bigger deal out of a small deal is what TV is all about.
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Old 12-09-2007, 11:52   #8
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Allowing deck cannons would make it worth watching on TV.
Paintball yacht racing, now there is an idea! Firswt guys past the finish wins but you are disqualified if you competitor can you you three times with the paint cannon first.
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Old 12-09-2007, 16:02   #9
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Coot,

Of course, a small discrepancy in speeds between different AC boats makes a big difference on the course (as was clearly evidenced in the last Cup). But bearing in mind that the AC is a "box rule" (i.e. the boats are designed within a fairly tight set of rules...) it does seem to, generally, produce relatively limilar looking boats with relatively similar performance. For example, although in the last Cup, Alinghi was "clearly" a quicker boat than NZ, it appeared to be between 0.1 and 0.2 of a knot quicker upwind and between 0 and 0.1 of a knot quicker downwind. In fact, the speed discrepancy between the 2 boats was probably largely due to a design decision to design for slightly different wind strengths. Had the prevailing wind been, on average, 5 knots less, the black boat might have been faster.

The point is that allowing bigger kites is going to make both boats faster. And don't be mislead about "unlimited size"; clever people will work out how much bigger begets optimum performance (on the principle that bigger is not necessarily better ;sometimes, in light breeze, a smaller kite is more effective than a bigger one) and when they round the top mark for the first time and the "big kites" are hoisted for the first time, I'll bet you a bottle of bourbon to a bicket of bullcrap that the 2 boats have kites that are within 3% in area and that the boats are still within 0.2 of a knot of each other in downwind speed.
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Old 12-09-2007, 16:28   #10
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I wouldn't get too excited about this report at this point. Like almost all A-Cup Defenders, Allinghi are at that stage where they will float rumors just to try to keep the many challengers guessing.

There is a potential suit by BMW/Oracle Racing that must be litigated in the New York courts before the next A-Cup can begin. Should BMW/Oracle win that lawsuit, that will greatly influence what the next A-Cup will look like.

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Old 12-09-2007, 17:45   #11
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I found AC pretty boring as I am sure did most viewers. If it were simply a matter of spec boats so then boat crew/drivers make the difference you could use any one-class boat but that certainly wouldn't draw a crowd. Who wants to watch America's optimists. Part of the allure is that it is a team event long before the boat even goes in the water. This is very much like formula one racing. First you spend a butt load of bucks on the vehicle including all the high tech stuff. Then you put a top notch crew in it for part two. People love the spectacle of spending lot's and lot's of money.

The problem is the courses. All the maneuvering and jinking prior to the start sort of makes the race a fait accompli. First to the line in the right position seems to win it with some exceptions as we saw this year.

So what to do? More turns. Many more turns. Figure eights and crossing situations, 360's around some marks. More turns = more opportunity for mistakes, more opportunity to guess wrong and face it more opportunity to actually see the crews doing something. Shorter courses with multilpe laps.

Secondly the gate should be divided like lane choice in drag racing. How to decide who gets which lane can be a lucky draw or loser gets choice. Alternately, put more boats on the course. Sure mano-a-mano is America's cup tradition but no one is going to watch Formula 1 if there is only 1 Ferrari and one McClaren out there. Spyker speed bumps are part of the show!

Frankly watching multi-buck yachts go in a straight line at 12 knots is like watching grass grow - yawn...

Oh - Maybe put cannon on deck with the ability to shoot the other guys rigging. That would be fun. Kind of like a sailing biathalon.

Put Bernie Ecclestone in charge. At least it will be controversial.
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Old 13-09-2007, 09:49   #12
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But bearing in mind that the AC is a "box rule" (i.e. the boats are designed within a fairly tight set of rules...) it does seem to, generally, produce relatively limilar looking boats with relatively similar performance.
Of course. Within tight enough limits, any smart designers are going to find the same general design -- except to the degree that they can find clever advantages such as a "wing keel" or "hull appendage".

I think the competitors and spectators enjoy the design/engineering aspect of the race as well as they enjoy the guys on the water. Otherwise, we wouldn't be having this discussion.

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... and when they round the top mark for the first time and the "big kites" are hoisted for the first time, I'll bet you a bottle of bourbon to a bicket of bullcrap that the 2 boats have kites that are within 3% in area and that the boats are still within 0.2 of a knot of each other in downwind speed.
Of course, the engineers on all teams all know how to select the right size sail, so they likely all get the same answer. But I think there must be some reason to propose this rule change. I think that Alinghi thinks they can achieve some advantage from it, even if it is (as Tao Jones speculates) just to keep the other teams guessing.
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