The next (2016 or so?) America's Cup (AC 35)

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by Stephen Ditmore, Oct 9, 2012.

  1. Stephen Ditmore
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    Stephen Ditmore Senior Member

    I'm really happy you're here discussing this subject, Peter, so I don't mean to be shooting you down. But I am asking you to take a position here. Is motor control "fine if the defender agrees to it" or are you against it?

    Also, it's not clear to me the AC33 boats HAD to use motors. They DID use motors, and in Alinghi's case I think they went forward with a design requiring motors before there was a definitive ruling. But if motors are explicitly banned - a rule I'd be OK with, designers would design boats that don't require them. Big clipper ships and windjammers have been successfully built and sailed without motors, so I can't agree with your statement about what "history now tells us." If one wanted to limit the tension that could be on a particular sheet the rule could specify the type and size of line that can be used for that sheet such that it's breaking strength would limit the load that could be put on it.

    But I hope you'll stick around and contribute to this thread, Peter. Despite that you haven't immediately persuaded me on every point, you have clearly though about this, and you're sufficiently informed to have a an opinion on this subject. If we manage to put our heads together and come to an interesting solution, perhaps next round someone will listen. They're motivated to put on a good event that will attract public interest.
     
  2. petereng
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    petereng Senior Member

    Hi - I'm a sailor and an Engineer. I don't have a stance on this one for the AC. We live in a world were we don't need people for this sort of thing. We now have test tracks with dozen of cars on them being driven by robots instead of people. This allows the car makers to get the miles up on mules and prototypes faster and safer. We could just have remote controlled sailing boats and that would be legal under the deed and not have sailors. The Americas Cup is a challenge Cup and a "mutual consent" race can be whatever is agreed to and its not much point second guessing what that is. In other realms of sailing I think that we have to remain in manual "mode" otherwise its not a sport eg the olympics. But then in offshore racing it makes sense to not have people on the gunnel in bad weather and not in exposed positions. Sailors are still a bit masocistic about that sort of thing. We are in a period of technology change and environment change and fashion change for sailing. Really big past sail boats had heaps of crew and thats out because of cost. We can't afford to have 30-40-50 people just to raise sail or be intelligent ballast. Bring back sandbagging!

    Its clear to me that the soft sails of the size in Alingi 5 for instance are at the limit of loads that we can control manually. eg USA17 soft main was around 35 tonne. The wingsail sheet was around 3T. They struggled to raise the mainsail on A5 and on USA17, hence the use of motors. They struggled to trim them, hence again motors. They found the limits of manual control for a burmuda rigged boat. Thats one reason the AC34 are 72ft long and use wings. By the way I have a theory about why they are 72 ft long. Since M&M designed the rules and they have years of experience in A class, a Aclass would be a 1/4 scale model for the AC72's. The AC72 I designed for myself when I scaled it down to 18ft had nearly the correct proportions for a good Aclass.

    In regard to height control on any foiling sailboat its dead easy to plug in a GPS and set an altitude and feed this through an inertial system that predicts the boat pitching and with the correct trim tabs have perfect flight. If the rules and emotions allowed it. Peter S

    So to answer your Q's on motors its a class by class decision. Being a yacht structures engineer I get asked to solve the consequences of these decisions. Now people are asking me about L foils instead of banana boards etc.
    More thoughts.... Peter S
     
  3. Stephen Ditmore
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    Stephen Ditmore Senior Member

    Thanks, Peter - that's a informative post. What if a rule allowed boats over 75' but limited the area of any one sail? Also, you wisely limited what you were saying to soft sails. What are the consequences of wing-sails on overall loads? Once you get it set up isn't it a little like a "balanced spade" rudder in that the arm between the axis of rotation and the center of effort is pretty small, allowing it to be rotated without a huge amount of force? [On re-reading your post I see you addressed this - 35 tonnes vs 3 tonnes.]

    Also, does a hydraulic motor or ram driven buy crew on a grinder-style hand pump count as a motor? It's human powered in that case. What if a generator is driven by crew with pedals? By solar power? By a windmill?
     
  4. petereng
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    petereng Senior Member

    Just to explain something. Half my work is yacht structures the other half is industrial composites. I currently have an industrial job for a high access work platform in a high voltage situation (135kV plus) so the 20m high structure has to be fibreglass. Its platform is not mechanically levelled but electronically levelled (sound familiar) my electronic and electrical companions have pulled off the shelf bits together and made a system that samples at 50 bits a second. It has triple redundency, inertial levelling. Plugs into a canbus system and is the size of a cigerette box. Relatively cheap say <$500AUD and could be upgraded easily to level a suitable flying boat. Who wants one? All I'm trying to say is that sailing rules have limited our performance, not the technology or the talent. We just have to be clear what is "sailing" Cheers Peter S
     
  5. Stephen Ditmore
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    Stephen Ditmore Senior Member

    On that I'm pretty much with you, Peter. My answer would be to limit battery discharge (or discharge from any other energy storage device such as a compressed air tank) between the beginning and end of the race, and prohibit combustive fuels. Within those limits I'd want the problem to be left to the design teams.
    I have mixed feelings about fly-by-wire. After reading your post I might be inclined to say it's OK within the constraint of the battery discharge limit.

    In response to discussion of Oracle's pitchpole, I think I'd support a rule that says the boat must be able to lift a giant bucket of seawater of a specified size from the end of the spinnaker pole without trimming forward more than 10 degrees.
     
  6. tspeer
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    tspeer Senior Member

    I don't recall any difficulty raising the mainsail on USA 17. She was sailed quite successfully in a wide range of wind speeds with the soft sail rig, and the boat hit its top recorded speed with the soft sails rather than the wing. The plan was to have both the soft sail rig and the wing rig available for the regatta, to be used interchangeably depending on the weather forecast for the day. It was only after the mast broke and the team gained experience with the wing that they decided to commit to sailing with only the wing rig.

    The reason for going to motorized controls was because the defending club threw out Racing Rules of Sailing 51 - 54. You'll have to ask them why they did that. USA 17 was able to reduce the number of crew because of the superior power/weight ratio of the engine, but the team would have preferred to keep the prohibition on stored energy intact and race with all manual power.

    As I recall, the 72 ft length was determined through extensive discussions with the Challenger of Record at the time, as well as the other prospective challengers. They wanted something less than 90 ft on the waterline, and on the order of the IACC yachts, which were approximately 75 ft long. It was believed this was an appropriate size to distinguish the America's Cup from other regattas and to hold people's interest. The telegenic nature of the AC45 came as a surprise after the ACWS regattas began and well after the size of the AC72 was set.

    It's not dead easy at all. GPS does not provide as good a measurement of height as it does horizontal position, and is not really suitable as the primary height feedback. In addition, GPS gives height with respect to the reference geoid (WGS-84), not the real-time sea surface. You would need some other height sensor, whether it is mechanical (wand) or electronic (ultrasound, laser) or manual input. But the biggest problem is not the sensing and computation, it is the actuation. The power to the actuators has to be provided manually, without even an accumulator on the pressure side. This becomes especially acute when you start looking at the characteristics of proportional control valves and the power lost to their continuous leakage. These are solvable problems to be sure, but not trivial.

    However, your point is well taken that it would be a whole lot easier if the rules had been written to facilitate flying instead of trying to prohibit it.
     
  7. tunnels

    tunnels Previous Member

    When the cup was first sailed for who could have forseen the way of the future and the use of multi hulled boats . "why thats not proper" !!!!
    In all fair-ness it needs to be split into 2 sections and that they never race against each other ! "impossible situation any way" !!
    Mono hulls race and multi hulls race
    The sizes if boats should be capped for both as well !!
    Multi hull is fast getting out of hand so to speak, to foil of not to foil !! wing sail , with or without !! some where there needs to be a line drawn and cant be step over it . ITs to open ended and needs to be tied off properly !!
    I love watching sailing but its reaching a point of rediculaous !!:mad::eek::confused::(
     
  8. Stephen Ditmore
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    Stephen Ditmore Senior Member

    Thanks for checking in with us, Tom. Great discussion!

    Tunnels, I think I join Doug Lord in feeling that billionaires funding cutting edge research is a wonderful thing. What aspect of it is too much? Is there a rule that would address your concern while keeping things open to cutting edge development? Or are you arguing for something a lot more retro, like the ideas I put forward in my post #4; a rule based on the scandinavian square meter rule or the 10-rater RC class (boats basically like the IACC boats but lighter displacement)? What if you took those ideas and added DSS for just a tad more get-up & go?
     
  9. CT 249
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    CT 249 Senior Member

    With respect, Peter, I think experience (as well as Tom's post) disproves a claim that around 75' is the max for manual power. The old IRC 80' monos were not particularly hard to handle with manual grinders, and I think the last of the IOR maxis would have had much higher loads.

    It's very easy to overstate any claim that "we are in a period of technology change and environment change and fashion change for sailing". Sailing has always been in a state of change and it's hard to see if there is all that much difference now. The number of high-performance boats is arguably still very small - the average speed of off-the-beach sailing craft in my home state (NSW) for example is now arguably considerably SLOWER than it was in the '70s and '80s, when the beachcat boom was on. The number of new high-performance small boats is very low, compared to the number of "state of the art" boats in earlier years or the number of new slower boats, from Optis to Lasers to Beneteau Firsts. Are we really in an era of greater change than the '60s (Piver, Crowther, the arrival of popular stock boats, vast fleets of ply dinghies, etc), '70s (vast fleets of Hobie type beachcats, record breaking fleets of IOR boats, J/24s, the trailer-sailer boom, Miss Nylex, the arrival of carbon and kevlar, Manureva, Club Med, Crossbow), or the '80s (Apricot, Paul Ricard, carbon IOR boats, unlimited megabuck 18 Foot Skiffs, windsurfers, etc)???

    To be honest, I think the average sailor instinctively appreciates what a minority miss - the sport is not so much about going fast with high technology (although that IS wonderful) but about the physical and mental challenges, and many of them are not achieved by fly-by-wire and powered winches. Most other sports, of course, are exactly the same and therefore they restrict performance much MORE than sailing. When such huge sports as golf and cycling get vast audiences with much MORE restricted equipment, why do we assume that the possible "more restrictions = more followers and doers" rule doesn't apply to our sport too?

    Historically it seems that the AC is vastly over-rated as a creator of new technology, and the current AC is a classic case as the big innovations like wingsails and foils came
    from small boats. So why can't sailing's marquee event be like the marquee event in most other major participant sports, and be faithful to its history, and be something that reflects mainstream equipment?

    We were told that this AC would bring the AC into a new era. It has. There has not been a smaller number of potential competitors since 1937. Even earlier depressions saw larger numbers hoping to win the Cup - the recession of the early '80s saw 9 or 10 syndicates, for example. The 'new era' is one of tiny numbers sailing boats that have very little relationship to the average sailor or the boats they sail. Hardly a good thing IMHO. This is not saying that we have to restrict development, but it is saying that we have to recognise the downsides so that we can avoid them.

    To forestall the inevitable criticism, this year I'll probably be doing some trimaran offshore racing, a spot of 12 Foot Skiffing, a bit of Moth foiling, and then the worlds in one of the least restricted and fastest of singlehanded development classes. So I'm probably less conservative in my sailing than other posters here. But the average sailor isn't going that way, and the sport isn't going that way, and arguably we and the AC should respect that.

    Tunnel - no one said that multis were not proper in the Cup's earlier era. The founder of the NYYC had a cat before the schooner America was created, cats were welcomed into New York racing, and specifically allowed into NYYC racing. The idea that there was a major movement against multis is popular but incorrect.
     
  10. petereng
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    petereng Senior Member

    Thanks for the comment Tom. My info re: sailing loads and has come from video interviews and press stuff so its probably biased or exagerated. Good to hear from inside the AC camp. Peter
     
  11. Stephen Ditmore
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    Stephen Ditmore Senior Member

    Great points CT 249! Great that you get to sail so! I will quibble with one thing
    The market research I've seen (I'm due to check it again) is that while monohull sailboat sales have been down, multihull sales have held steady, and there are far more production multihulls built to the standards expected of upmarket production yachts than there used to be. [Is this quibble "the inevitable criticism"?]

    What do you think of the my idea of jiggering the IACC base formula or substituting one based on the square meter classes or the 10-rater RC class to produce monohulls measured near the waterline but much lighter displacement; then allowing DSS to add a little excitement?
     
  12. SteinV
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    SteinV New Member

    I have no very strong feelings about where the AC should go, but I think it's smart to observe the needs of those running the show, organizers and teams. The same needs are valid in varying degrees for the Olympics and such too.
    1: They have to make good entertainment, to get marketing value and/or boasting effect.
    2: They have to limit cost. The cost limits for the AC are of course at a very high level, but still there are limits.
    3: It must seem like cutting edge and/or the ultimate in sail racing to motivate participants and spectators.

    From these needs I see some probable conclusions:
    1: A totally open "box rule" or any other too free parameter will cost too much and be too unpredictable. A huge effort may end up in one day sailing that shows it was all wrong and others got it right.
    2: Retro classes are out of the question. How many spectators would have glorified Michael Shumacher if his Formula One car was a 1917 Ford Model T? (If I recall correctly, the Olympic Star class is from that year.)
    3: "The show must go on". Meaning, the future boats have to seem as spectacular as the present ones. Not necessarily by size and speed, but in some way they must match or preferably exceed the present thing.

    My guess for boats in the AC version 35? Well.... The teams are now apparently understanding the cats like pro sailors, but just a couple of years ago, it seemed like they had never been in a beach cat, making embarrassing blunders. They will not within this version be on top of their game, at the level they are in monos. Refinement of the boats is a way bigger topic, with the same conclusion. Running the same boats next time, probably with adjusted rules, will make a big improvement in performance and spectator value, and it will cost way less than introducing a new class or concept. Thus it will make it easier and more rewarding for teams to participate. Actually I think this is the only realistic way to go. Probably also for the AC 36.
     
  13. Stephen Ditmore
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    Stephen Ditmore Senior Member

    But wouldn't it also help sailors and designers gain experience and reduce cost for there to be smaller, less expensive classes with analogous rules? So why not allow adjustable flaps on rudders like moths or rudders that can be adjusted on a second axis like I-14s? And sailing rules that say you must raise the windward daggerboard/foil or do a penalty turn? That's just weird. Then that thing about 45% of volume being in the hull? I'm not sure what problem that addresses, exactly. Doesn't my suggestion of requiring volume forward with a test of forward trim when a weight is placed on (or lifted from) the bow make more sense? And what's wrong with sensor wands or other mechanical devices that read where the surface is? If designers are going to send teams of people hurtling along through the air, why tie their hands when it comes to providing active hydrodynamic control?
     

  14. Paul B

    Paul B Previous Member

    The length mentioned in the Deed are waterline lengths. So your comment aboue the RC44 is not quite valid.

    Of course the challenger and defender can agree to sail the match in anything they want.
     
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