The history of the America's Cup and the design Method

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by peterhalswell, Nov 20, 2006.

  1. peterhalswell
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    peterhalswell Junior Member

    I'm a mechanical engineering student at exeter university. I'm currently doing a project about the America's Cup and more importantly the designing methods used.

    I was hoping that someone out there will be able to point me in the right direction, whether its books, website, contacts or anything.

    The important bit in the project is the designing methods and how they have change in the last 150 years. I will be using the America's Cup as a time line and to hopefully show how the change in design methods has change the yachts themselves.

    For example;
    I found out that George L Watson was one of the 1st people to use towing tanks to design yachts, and so his designs had deeper drafts and larger ballast which can be seen by his design of Thistle in 1887.

    As with 99% of student i have left it a little bit late, I have just over two weeks to finish the research.

    Any input welcome, any design methods (old or new), including computer design (CFD, FED, etc), anything about the America's cup or anything generally interesting.

    Thank you very much
  2. Crag Cay
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    Crag Cay Senior Member

    You certainly need to get hold of a copy of 'The America's Cup - And Informal History' by Ian Dear. It was published by Stanley Paul in 1980, ISBN 0 09 141430 X.

    It is a pretty good account of things up to that date.

    Test tanking has been a very important part of the design process since Watson's era and still is used just as extensively today. You can, of course still visit (and use) the Denny Tank up on the Clyde, and Strathclyde Uni may hold some old research information.

    However getting any insights into the rationale and methods used by current syndicates is going to be tricky. However Andrew Claughton at Sounthampton may talk to you in general terms, especially about the notion of CFD validation.

    But with your timeline, well... bloody students... tax payers money ..... binge drinking..... in my day....... what's the country coming to....etc
  3. spank
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    spank Junior Member

    Well, there are plenty of books out there that would serve as great resources. Any search of "Americas Cup" in library database should turn up oodles of stuff for you. There are a bunch of scholarly papers out there published in various techinical journals documenting the development of the wing keel in Holland in 1983, as well as other more technical stuff. Other things to consider are biographical/designer histories. I know the various Sparkman/Stephens books (The Best of the Best by Francis Kinney springs to mind) have decent documentation over time. A study of S&S will almost get you completely through a whole era of important design evolution. Henderson's book on Phil Rhodes has some great discussion about Weatherly. Olin Stephens' autobiography "All that and Sailing too" is another good one that has good information direct from source. Ted Hood just came out with an Autobiography that has some info too. Steve Killing wrote a great yacht design primer a few years ago called "Yacht Design Explained" that puts the evolution you are talking about very nicely into lamens terms. There are some great drawings and images in that book as well. Anyways, I hope this helps. I wish I had gotten to write this paper when I was in school....
  4. CT 249
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    CT 249 Senior Member

    In more recent times, see if you can find info on;

    The 12 m Mariner of 1974; due to problems with tank testing she had square "steps" under the waterline at the stern and was a massive failure. Britton Chance Jnr design.

    If you can find a place where there's a collection of back copies of Seahorse magazines, you'll find lots of excellent stuff. Articles by a large number of current IACC and former 12 Metre designers. I also have a feeling Andy Claughton may have co-authored a 12m book, but I may be utterly wrong.

    By the way if you look into the wing keel thing, don't fall for the line that the idea was concieved in Holland in 1983. The two previous Australian 12 metre designers (Payne and Warwick Hood) had published plans of a 12 with winglets in 1974.
  5. peterhalswell
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    peterhalswell Junior Member

    thank you very much for all the feed back. i'll have a look into Mariner. any more ideas welcome.
    cheers pete
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    FAST FRED Senior Member

    Just remember with any boat built to a rule , the boat is compromised BY the rules.

    They can race each other , but are far from Optimum, whatever that is.

  7. Tad
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    Tad Boat Designer

    See the book,

    The Twelve-Metre Yacht, It's Evolution and Design 1906-1987 by Chris Freer.

    Lots of theories about the Mariner debacle, and there's another one presented by Freer in his book. I believe Britton blamed the tank testing, but in the mid 90's Pete de Saix claimed there was nothing wrong with the tank testing. Pete blamed Chance's interpretation of the raw data as mistaken, and that he (de Saix) knew the boat was no good in the tank. And he claimed he told Britton this at the time. But Britton was so secretive that he would take the raw data away to interpret himself, and didn't let anyone, especially Pete, even look at it.

  8. joz
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    joz Senior Member

    umm isn't there any more up to date books on the subject?
  9. peterhalswell
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    peterhalswell Junior Member

    thanks for the for the ideas. i have found out that i have the xmas holidays to do the project which is good.
    i'm having trouble finding these book where i dont have to buy them, any ideas?
    cheers pete
  10. nnnsteve
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    nnnsteve New Member

    Where can I find specs for America's Cup boats?

    Where can I find specs for America's Cup boats like mast height, beam, overall length?
  11. peterhalswell
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    peterhalswell Junior Member

    your best bet is to look at "the paintings of the america's cup" 1851 - 1987, paintings by Tim Thimpson and written by Ranulf Rayner. it has a nice little intro and history. but the best bit is it has a list of all the boats in chronological order with a side on pic of the hull in detail plus LOA, LWL, beam, draft sail area, etc.

    hope this is helpful
  12. Guest625101138

    Guest625101138 Previous Member

    Any review of Americas Cup design should include the contribution that Ben Lexan made. I am not sure how he arrived at the winged keel but it was within the rule of the day and provided a definite benefit to windward.

    I think the Australians had acess to pool testing for the design of Australia II but the basic concept was probably developed from a better understanding of wing design. Ben Lexan certainly had a penchant for the unusual but supported with a wealth of sailing knowledge.

    In effect you see the same thing as the wing keel often now as winglets on aircraft.

    The rules have also changed over time.

    There have been dramatic advances in materials in recent times and some memorable failures as a result of pushing the design envelope with modern materials. (Where would we be without racing driving invention??)

    This site has many names that bear investigation:

    Rick W.
  13. MikeJohns
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    MikeJohns Senior Member

    BenBob was energetic, eccentric, lots of design ideas, some daft ones too. Tank testing and acces to $$$ weeded out bad designs.

    Many feel that the boats performance had as much, or even more to do with the sails and particulalrly the spinnaker design and that the winged keel took all the credit unfairly over other contributions.

  14. Guest625101138

    Guest625101138 Previous Member

    I think the winged keel was as much in the brain of the opposition as it was to do with hydrodynamics.

    You are right of course. You have to have a good engine to motor fast and the advances in high modulus fabrics with incredibily high specific strength have been a major contribution.

    Rick W.
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