Francis Vaughan

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Everything posted by Francis Vaughan

  1. Francis Vaughan

    VOR AUCTION - OPPORTUNITIES LOST & STILL THERE?

    A little story about design in car racing. Here in Oz we have a car class historically known as the Touring Cars or often the tin-tops. Now they get called the V8 Supercars, but this is just a long thread of the same teams, drivers and races over a few decades. Back in pre-history there evolved a core rivalry between the Ford and Holden (GM) cars, teams, and drivers. This carried on into popular culture with similar allegiances as you might expect to a football team. In 1991 this rivalry was codified into the Group A class. 5 litre V8 cars from Holden and Ford. As the 90's progressed this code came to be a parity code. Any performance advantage found by one car was removed by mandated modifications to the car. In 2000 a new code was introduced - Project Blueprint - explicitly designed to push parity harder. From Wikipedia: Project Blueprint saw the chassis pick-up points, wheelbase, track and driving position become common across both manufacturers. The Holdens were now required to use double wishbone front suspension, similar to that of the Falcon, rather than the MacPherson struts used previously. The aerodynamic packages were comprehensively tested and revised and differences in the porting of each of the manufacturers' engines were also removed. In 2008 a new code was introduced. Cars are now based upon a one design chassis, onto which body panels from a manufacture's production car are fixed (or composite facsimiles attached). The engine must be a 5 litre V8 and the power output is limited, as are modifications, ensuring no power advantage. A reference engine is also available. Aerodynamics are tested to ensure that each car has as near identical performance as possible. Gearbox ratios are fixed, the ECU is supplied by the race authority, brakes, wheels and tires are one design, one manufacturer. Whilst not a full single manufacturer OD, the entire intent is to make the cars as identical as possible and remove technical advantage. A large fraction of the car is one design single source, and parts that are not are tested to level performance. The result? A wildly successful formula that attracts more viewers than F1. Drivers and teams win based upon talent. Racing is close, exciting, and the sponsors get a very clearly defined package. Being a rabid F1 follower in a previous life (getting up a ungodly hours to watch Cosworth V8 powered cars dice with Turbocharged Renaults and Ferraris) it always bothered me that my fellow countrymen had a far greater interest in hoons burning up the blacktop at Bathurst and the like. But close exciting racing where talent dominates has its appeal.
  2. Francis Vaughan

    VOR AUCTION - OPPORTUNITIES LOST & STILL THERE?

    Seriously, that is little more than a bland statement with no backup. Proof by vigorous assertion as we used to call it. Open design appeals to those who enjoy the technical challenge. Maybe Jim Clarke - being a geek at heart - would prefer a box rule. Asserting that OD kills it for any rich person is another matter. The Olympics is exclusively OD. There are many OD classes that attract very wealthy patrons. RC-44, Melges 32 for a start. If you want to prove your sailing abilities, rather than swing your checkbook on the end of your dick, OD tends to attract even the very wealthy. Dick swinging contests based on money abound, the ponys is a good place to start. Making the VOR just yet another snout in the trough isn't a good plan.
  3. Francis Vaughan

    VOR AUCTION - OPPORTUNITIES LOST & STILL THERE?

    I'll reiterate the point about personal time. Running an AC campaign would suit Jim Clarke well. The actual races are only a commitment of a few weeks, and you get to sleep in a luxury bed on your mega yacht at night. The rest of the time you are running a high tech development effort. Something Jim loves. He can do this from home. When the racing starts he gets to be aboard during the races and bask in the glory. And the AC remains the big prize in sailing. For all its faults and problems this remains true and probably always will. The idea of a triple crown - Olympic, AC, VOR keeps being trotted out. However right now the VOR is a very poor cousin to the other two. As a cut across the sport the trio makes a lot of sense. Success at all three pretty well marks you out as something really special. But talk to the average guy in the street. Everyone knows about the Olympics, even if they have only a faint idea that sailing is an Olympic sport. Many people have heard of the AC, if only for the occasional controversy and nationalistic elements. Here in Oz when we were challenging for the first win you would need to be dead or living in a cave not to know what was going on. Everyone was an expert and winged-keels became part of popular culture. But ocean racing? In Oz that's the S2H isn't it? Oh, and the times we sent a frigate down into the SO to fish some silly sailor out of their inverted boat after the keel fell off. AC and Olympics. Chalk and cheese. Here in Oz most of the funding for Olympic athletes is federal government, and it wasn't that long ago tha the funding body announced that sailing was being cut - the sailing medals that came back rather creating some embarrassment. Funding is literally done on a medals for the dollar basis. If your sport isn't in the hunt for medals, zip funding. AC is a different problem. Oz doesn't have much in the way of global brands to promote past Qantas and Fosters. So it is left to local money, and that comes with a whole host of history. Not the least of which is the spectre of Alan Bond. The point is that the VOR really is vastly below the level of the AC or Olympics in stature. Sad but true. Asking why Jim Clarke would consider the AC but not the VOR is in much the same league as asking why he doesn't sponsor a whole list of lower profile events. The VOR is very Eurocentric, and that remains a weakness. OTOH, the Dutch, Spanish and French continue an involvement. Traditional seafaring nations, they have a lot of pride in this beyond what those of us in the new world can muster. It is interesting how the UK has fallen away. No UK teams in a very long time. Yet the race started there. Lots of global brands, but the easy money went when tobacco went. Land Rover are backing Ben Ainslie, but the irony is that they are Indian owned now. And of course they are blocked from the VOR by Volvo (although they once shared parent owner, and shared platforms.) One thing that VOR can't fix is part of what makes the AC and Olympics so different. History. It takes a very long time to build up the background. The VOR is a youngster in very aged company. No amount of tweaking the format can change that. IMHO one of the important aspects of the VOR remains national team identity. Sure, right now it is a bit weak, but we all know what notional nation each boat sails for. Part of the packaging of teams must continue to embrace this. It is critical to get buy in from ordinary punters. It is the basic nature of the AC and Olympics. Funding an AC team isn't just about you, you win the cup for your country. Heck you might even be in line for a gong in those countries that still hand them out. The VOR (especially if it were no longer the Volvo Ocean Race) could be the international ocean race, and stand amongst the AC and Olympic as something other than just a commercial opportunity. Jack is exactly right - for it to flourish it needs to move away from a sponsor branded event. Whilst it is, it will never gain the traction it needs. However bridging this gap takes us across murky depths. Look at F1. Countries pay, and pay big, for the right to host a round of the F1 championship. The event itself is awash with money, with Bernie Ecclestone becoming a billionaire on the back of it. Teams are serious money making entities, or the commercial owners (ie Red Bull, Mercedes, Renault) are more than comfortable with the ROI they get. The key of course was TV rights. Sadly in sailing events pay to get on the TV, not the other way around. The usual answer is "the Internet" and social media to the rescue. Currently the only companies to work out how to get rich from that are Google and Facebook. The current coverage of the VOR is amateurish. The VOR web site is a disaster, the app little better, and the daily live rudderless, with occasional flashes of brilliance. They at least realised that pissing of the fans with idiocy like 6 hour updates and stealth mode is counterproductive. Baby steps. That they need people like JCB to curate their media offerings and fans to create better trackers really shows how far they need to come. All this costs money, and that is perhaps where the "you can't there from here" problem comes from. MT tried to get buy in from Volvo to fund a big change, and they balked. Getting the VOR to a point where it is solvent and can deliver what is needed to grow isn't trivial. Perhaps the rumour of a consortium bid for the race is the best we can hope for.
  4. Francis Vaughan

    VOR AUCTION - OPPORTUNITIES LOST & STILL THERE?

    All this talk about what billionaires want is somewhat odd. Unless you are a billionaire, or close friends with one, I would suggest you have no idea. Look back over the history of sponsored sailing, and enumerate the personally wealthy that people that put their own money into a boat. Now remove the AC. Not many left are there? I'll reiterate a point I made a while ago. To want to sponsor any sport, you want to get a personal return. People that do things like own football teams get a massive personal return. They attend every match, usually with a coterie of hangers on, mates, and business associates. They bask in the glory of the ownership. They appear in all the good publicity for the team, and become part of the backdrop of the sport. They are investing more than money, they are putting their time into the team, as they get a lot back for that time. The VOR does not deliver back this sort of personal return on time. It demands a huge amount of time - legs are weeks at a time, not an hour or two. The sport demands significant travel to attend. Most investors in an ocean racer expect to sail aboard her. This requires huge investment in time. Niklas Zennstrom's and his various Rán instances is a good example. Ask yourself why he hasn't entered the VOR. Similarly Jim Clarke. Larry Ellison could sponsor a team out of pocket money (although he is notoriously tight.) A core reason is that they don't have the time. The one thing that they have no more of than anyone else is time. They have all sailed the S2H on their own boats. And sailed many others. But these are a few days at sea for the glory time, and then fly back home on the personal jet. They are not a more then one year grind. Simple reality is that competition for the time and money of the very rich is intense. A lot of people have worked out that liberating money from the very rich is a lucrative trade. Appealing to their vanity on just about every front. But you are selling a value proposition that competes with many other much more glamorous sports and activities, and activities that require very little investment in time. 95% of VOR teams will continue to come with commercially justified sponsorship. This is the new reality. Presenting a coherent value package to the commercial sponsors of the world needs to be VOR's #1 priority. As Jack says - it should not be up to a skipper to be hawking a team about, but up to the VOR to be selling slots in the race to sponsors. The package needs to be clearly appealing to a major sponsor. Amongst other things they need a very clear understanding of the costs, the risks, and the rewards. This package isn't trivial, as the costs are closely tied to the demands of the sponsors in terms of ROI. This is a curious difference from many other sports. If the proposition needs many stopovers with a lot of crew involvement, the sponsorship package costs will blow out. It seems that making this part of the package close will define the economics of the crew, and dictate the maximum crew on board. That will then feed into the boat specification. What needs to be clear is that there are probably dangers in working towards the optimal specification. The current drive to smaller boats and crews may be a drive to a local maxima. The smaller boats have less drama and less differentiation from other races. The VOR markets itself as the pinnacle of ocean racing. Very hard to market a crewed race with stopovers as more hardcore than a solo race non-stop in the same boat. The VO70 looked the part. Even to a casual observer they had menace and drama about them that smaller boats don't have. Underestimating the value of this to sponsors is naive. They very well may feel the extra money is worth it. Moreover, the clear differentiation (or the lack of it) may be a deal breaker before you get to the point of talking money. Not keeping options for bigger boats may be closing doors you never knew were open. IMHO, part of this package is going to be either OD, or highly constrained design. For the core reason that it limits the sponsor's risk. A bix rule has proven that we get fragile boats that break as often as finish a race, and worse, sponsors are presented with shitters that have no chance of winning. Further, OD has got us exciting close racing. No sponsor is going to be happy without this. The VO70's got us essentially no actual advances in boat design. It all came from where it always has. Crazy ideas in the MIni, things that work refined in IMOCA. Anyone who thinks the VO70's advanced boat design is invited to point to the advance.
  5. Francis Vaughan

    VOR AUCTION - OPPORTUNITIES LOST & STILL THERE?

    The idea of a one design hull probably has a lot of merit. It can eliminate two of the more unfortunate things we had with the VO70 fleet. 1. A race where the overall decision of where to place the performance tradeoffs could determine the race winner before the first leg, 2. Fragile designs and resultant poor racing. A hull built to close to VO65 levels of robustness with pretty much all else left to the teams (probably want a standard keel fin and hydraulics) could be a very nice mid-way path. Gets back multiple sail vendors, and opens up part of the design envelope. With the advent of foils, leaving the foil design free might encourage some further valuable development (although it risks reintroducing the chance that a boat may be uncompetitive out of the box again.) With a standard hull one could imagine some teams electing to share a deck design to lower costs. Similarly other major components that have high design and tooling costs. Lead time for both design and build of a boat would be much reduced. However, it is becoming clear that none of the questions about boat design are addressing the real issues. The race has clear problems, and problems that don't seem to want to go away. A critical problem is getting a team up and running long before the race starts. Even now a team assembled a year before the first leg is not unreasonable, yet we saw teams essentially being dragged together with weeks to spare as the boat waited at the dock with the sponsors logo still wet on the sides. And we never did see boat 8 sail. The race needs to be able to engage sponsors a long time ahead. With the race owner providing OD boats the last minute teams managed to work. But this is unlikely to be something we see in the future. Moving away from OD will add significantly to the lead time. The midway path as suggested by Miffy is also a mid-way lead time solution. The additional lead time may however still be too much to make the mid-way hybrid design idea work. Crew costs seem to blow out terribly with the stopovers. This looks like a core problem. We keep hearing about the need to cut crew more than anything else. (Which at first sight I found surprising, but can now see the problem.) And the tension is clear. B2B sponsors want to milk the stopovers as a key part of their ROI. This drives the stopover schedule and format. It is possible that to some sponsors the single most valuable thing about their sponsorship is the Pro-am race - where they get to take highly prized clients out on the boat to rub shoulders with AC winners and Olympic champions. It may be that half an hour sharing a grinder with Peter Burling is enough to swing a massive deal to supervise construction of a fleet of oil platforms. If the cost blowout of stopovers is the need to fly in the sailor's families and accomodate them, maybe the solution is to send them all home, and structure the timetable in a manner that allows for a minimal team presence during stopovers. This is easier said than done. Obviously it is up to the teams to decide on this, but it may be that part of the answer is for the VOR to work with the teams and sponsors on stopover scheduling with an eye to cost reduction. Clearly there is a tension - sponsors want it both ways, low costs, but expensive demands. Sadly sometimes there is no middle ground, and that is where things fail. But it looks a lot as if this is where the key lies, not in trivial things like the boat design. Countering this is a race that brings in the mass market brands. As has been noted previously, the real major brands don't sponsor teams. There are no sports teams anywhere on the planet that are sponsored by Apple, Microsoft, CocaCola etc. It isn't just the VOR that fails to attract them. They don't do teams. They might sponsor an entire sport, but they never sponsor anything smaller. The next tier down do. One brand that is often mentioned but never seems to quite come to the party is Red Bull. They are an obvious one, and the reasons why they have never stepped up to the plate would be very telling to know. (Along with Vestas, I would not be surprised to see them involved in a purchase of the race. Indeed the VOR becoming the Red-Bull Ocean Race is rather appealing.) But there very few Red-Bulls out there. (If Red-Bull did buy the race we would probably end up with inshore cat racing during stopovers after all - but probably not with the ocean going crews.) So, as Jack says, there has to be a significant change. What that change is is however far from clear. It isn't a matter of choosing the right boat rule and imaging that the sponsors will beat a path to your door. It needs to be a ready to roll package, with clear ROI, costs, schedule, low risk, high reward. So far the ROI has been a bolt on. Whatever impressive figures have been bandied about, the reality has clearly not been enough to convince sponsors to flock to the cause.
  6. Francis Vaughan

    VOR Leg 8 Itajaí to Newport

    Absolutely. I was really impressed. I will say that the interviewer was rather putting words into everyone's mouths. It wasn't a matter of "how do you feel?" but "how do you feel having come in 4th when you were doing so well before?" She was basically hunting for a downbeat comment and excuses, and one could almost feel the joy draining from Charles' mind as she rubbed in the result. Still, it was Charles' choice to rise to it.
  7. Francis Vaughan

    VOR Leg 8 Itajaí to Newport

    Egads, I've been in a course all week. Sneaking a look on my phone when I could. Home at last. This is nail biting beyond anything.
  8. Francis Vaughan

    VOR Leg 8 Itajaí to Newport

    Spot on. Indeed it is only really something of an accident of history that Gallipoli became the event from which the date of our day of remembrance is taken. ANZAC day isn't about Gallipoli any more than any nation's day of remembrance is tied to one particular battle, campaign or war. We remember those that served our country.
  9. Francis Vaughan

    Next VOR on IMOCAs?

    As Honda liked to say "Racing improves the breed." This can happen from all sorts of viewpoints, and providing incentives that have a reasonable chance of actively encouraging real development is hard to gainsay. This does mean that there is a sensible technological pathway, and not just assuming some sort of scientific miracle. Short of a Mr Fusion or a seawater powered motor we are still some way to go to eliminate diesel. The safety aspects of actively penalising diesel on board need to be considered. There needs to be a high energy density power storage system, and hydrocarbons are pretty difficult to beat here. Power density is important as well for emergency situations. The pull test for the IMCOA boats is pretty feeble. Cynically one notes that a MOB when sailing the Vendée does not entail any need for the boat to motor back. Once you are sailing the VOR, there is going to be an expectation that the boats can engage in successful rescues. Marrying the disparate expectations is not going to be trivial. A big difference between the cultures is that, right now, Volvo are going to push an expectation of high levels of safety, if only to avoid being publicly associated with a race that is fraught with accidents. Any new owner of the VOR is likely to have similar expectations. If the VOR is to change hands, my bet is that Vestas will be a major stakeholder in any new ownership. Or at least a key player in one of the bidders, if there are a number of suitors. I doubt Volvo will simply put the race on the market and walk away. They will want to have a very clear idea about where the race is going and what the future is. It just isn't part of their culture to drop it. It is becoming apparent that the race is headed to some sort of revitalisation. I hope that they don't wipe away some of the real wins that the format changes have brought. The influx of young and female sailors has IMHO been a big part of the appeal of this race. It isn't just the same old faces on the usual grind. Somehow they need to keep that.
  10. Francis Vaughan

    VOR Leg 8 Itajaí to Newport

    It is a nice image. Would be good to see Scally do well this leg, but I doubt they will be really firing for a while yet. Since we are picking winners, I'm going to go for Akzo. They have the form, and it sort of feels right. Tend to agree that the smart money will be on a podium shared by AK, DF, MF. Just the order that is to be determined. I wonder what the chances are of DF never winning a leg, but taking the race?
  11. Francis Vaughan

    VOR Leg 8 Itajaí to Newport

    It looks as if the crew lists are a work in progress. When I looked a few hours ago they still listed the in-port crews. Now they list the leg crews, and explicitly list Sophie as "out" (whereas there was no mention of her at all only a short while ago) but still no "in" crew-member for Mapfre. Scallywag now have Richard Edwards listed as OBR, but no actual crew. But this is probably changing as I write.
  12. Francis Vaughan

    Team Australia

    Two things to remember about the AC in Australia. One, the really big deal was the first time it was ever taken off the US. Broke the worlds longest ever winning streak. We did that. It isn't possible to do it again. Simply winning from whoever had it last doesn't have anything like the cachet. Thus a significant lack of interest. Two, they guy that bankrolled the successful challenge was Alan Bond. That just isn't a role model anyone aspires to. Memories are long. Anyone stepping up to fund an AC challenge now is going to see instant comparisons with Bond. (I refuse to call him Bondy.) Stepping into the shoes of one of our more notorious corporate criminals is simply not a good look. If you want to engage in a dick swinging contest you pick your company carefully.
  13. Francis Vaughan

    VOR Leg 8 Itajaí to Newport

    Hmmm, I think this one is a few years late.
  14. Francis Vaughan

    VOR Leg 7 Auckland to Itajai

    Yeah, this doesn't surprise me. 160MHz is really pushing your luck for much more than line of sight. You will get a bit of diffraction, but overall, if you can't see it, you won't be able to hear it. Which is why a mast top mounted antenna is such a good thing, even if still struggling. As well as taking a spare rail mount antenna, the continual occurrences of failures aboard the VOR boats needs to be addressed. As noted above, this may be the tip of the iceberg. The design needs reviewing, on board test procedures need to be codified, and any further failure of the system taken very seriously - indicating an ongoing safety critical problem that requires mandatory attention*. In some ways the AIS PLB design is a bit of a bodge job. It is really neat to use AIS as the locator mechanism, but AIS isn't at the best frequency, and AIS was put at 161MHz to place it in the marine VHF band, to use the existing allocation and allow some commonality of equipment. If you were able to start with a clean sheet of paper you probably would not design AIS or a PLB quite this way. But life is never so simple. There are a lot of constraints to get a useful design working, and the idea that every AIS system on any boat can recognise a MOB PLB and help find it is hard to beat. The PLB transmission protocol is interesting. By simply choosing a random slot it avoids the need to participate in slot allocation - which means the PLB does not need to receive anything, or indeed need a receiver at all. It can simply wake up and start squarking. (I do wonder about the time it takes the GPS to get a fix. The ads claim fast fix time (with no actual numbers), and things like a 66 channel receiver, but the receiver may well be doing a cold start, and with an antenna that might be submerged half the time it may be sucking on air to get itself sorted out in a timely manner. There is likely to be a big difference between a calm sea state and the antenna sitting proud in the air, versus a bad state.) I remember for the race after Hans Horrevoets was lost there was talk of a new MOB system. The description of if did not match the AIS PLB (at least as far as my poor memory goes) and it embodied a few interesting features. One was automatic activation, with a continual polling of all PLBs on board to ensure they were still visible, and (I think) a standalone receiver for receiving the beacon's transmissions. I have tried to find info about it, but have had no luck. It would be interesting to compare the technology choices. *I bleat on about these things, but this is just a terribly familiar pattern. Even at the pointy end of safety critical, complacency sets in. Very commonly there is a reduction in the perceived importance of a system if failures have thus far had no consequences. From being safety critical a notion of acceptable failures creeps in, and the problem slips from notice. That is until someone dies.
  15. Francis Vaughan

    VOR Leg 7 Auckland to Itajai

    That was a superb condensation of the issues - and the quote above exactly right.
  16. Francis Vaughan

    VOR Leg 7 Auckland to Itajai

    It was, but that wasn't really what I was asking. My question was - when the first time any boat, in any leg, reported that their AIS was inoperative, did anyone say - whoa! their MOB location capability is also now gone? Multiple failures - many it seems ascribed to the antenna system - and yet no action to address this. No change to provide an emergency antenna, no apparent efforts to provide any other redundancy. It slipped between the cracks.
  17. Francis Vaughan

    VOR Leg 7 Auckland to Itajai

    No, I was regarding the four seconds as a design failure - so still a failure. It depends upon where you place the bounds of "system". I'm not trying to ascribe any sort of direct cause here, rather looking at the account and trying to think about places where things could be improved. The "in those frantic moments" suggests that trusting humans to fit into the four second mould is something that needs addressing. It may have been oversight, it may have been physical violence of the gybe. Whatever. A big part of the problem is that these are rare events. Every time there is something to be learnt. A final conclusion may be that the design of the system is as good as it can be. But if you don't go down the path of looking at it, and reasoning about what happened carefully you don't know that.
  18. Francis Vaughan

    VOR Leg 7 Auckland to Itajai

    No, they were an hour apart. In the first post you never mentioned such protocols, only adding the idea an hour later. I'm pointing out that you are being inconsistent in your view of the reliability of such protocols. "thank goodness" is not a protocol. You come up with the protocols in a later post. You clearly did not think such protocols mattered or helped an hour earlier. Your protocol would require the crew member in the companionway activating the MOB on the MFD in front of him. So why "thank goodness" Libby was there? By your account the protocol should have been equally reliable and safe whether Libby was at the nav station or asleep in her bunk.
  19. Francis Vaughan

    VOR Leg 7 Auckland to Itajai

    I don't disagree. This is a very significant issue, and must be addressed. Indeed I would like to know that changes have been made for the upcoming leg. But, the button system failed to work as intended, and relied upon on boat protocols, and as you wrote: This is at odds with the well functioning on board protocol that you describe. "thank goodness" is not a safety protocol. My reading of events was that there was enough of a delay in Libby getting the MOB activated that they didn't get as close a fix as they might have hoped for. That may be a misreading, but events are such that they may never have got back to the right spot. We don't know, and never will know, how much of an error was introduced. But I don't think anyone can claim no error. With no AIS to track back on, this system became the primary mechanism for MOB recovery. It has to be held to the same level of capability as any primary recovery system. A lot of things went wrong that day. Swiss cheese model of accidents. You need all the holes to line up. And line up they did. No doubt, the AIS issue looms large. But it is common in digging down in such accidents that you find other problems. To flatly claim that the MOB button played no part at all is IMHO not reasonable. If the AIS had been working there would not have been a problem, but when it was allowed to fail, it uncovered a second level of critical systems, and their performance is left questioned. That is all.
  20. Francis Vaughan

    VOR Leg 7 Auckland to Itajai

    I don't doubt it was carefully thought out and justified. Nor would I suggest removing the delay. What it underlines is that there are cascading issues that are hard to nail down. One answer might be to remove the delay and to provide a cancel button. Another is to log position at every push of the button, even if full MOB activation doesn't occur. These are just off the top of my head thoughts. They are worth what you paid for them. All we really have is the knowledge that the system failed, and the design should be revisited. Now that is insane. How the heck something like that could get past any sort of safety design review beggars belief.
  21. Francis Vaughan

    VOR Leg 7 Auckland to Itajai

    Indeed, accidental set off is the most likely reason. But why? Like I said - it seemed like a good idea at the time. Such systems are a magnet for decisions like this. It is quite possible the 4 seconds was added due to complaints about accidental activation. I used to use a cascading set of such decisions to underline why design is hard to my software engineering classes. You can be sure the system will be reviewed and redesigned some time in the future taking into account this failure. This is the sad reality. Design rules are almost always written in the blood of those that were claimed by earlier lack of understanding. The history of this goes back to bridges and steam boilers. There is no magic bullet. It is how things change that mater - for that there is guidance. The loss of the ability to see other boats in crowded waters was probably not uppermost in everyone's minds in the SO. Which may be a factor in blinding everyone to the continuing importance of AIS. Again, easy in hindsight. Lose the main AIS, get the redundant one working as a matter of urgency, because you have just lost your MOB beacon locator. But, did anyone here realise the problem earlier? We have seen multiple AIS outages - yet no-one voiced a concern that the MOB locator was then inoperative - despite understanding how it works. I kick myself for this - it is the sort of thing I try to watch for.
  22. Francis Vaughan

    VOR Leg 7 Auckland to Itajai

    Double post
  23. Francis Vaughan

    VOR Leg 7 Auckland to Itajai

    Not wrong. That was really hard to read. The inoperative AIS was known, and I think we all knew that that was a key reason why they never found Fish. The four second mandatory MOB button has all the hallmarks of a "it sounded like a good idea at the time" design decision. I thought there was a spare antenna setup as well. I have vague memories of its use in the last race. The multiple AIS failures is very worrying. Not from a design or construction point of view, although this isn't good. However we have seen multiple failures, and no action taken by the VOR to address the question about the failures in a systemic manner. Seems AIS has not been taken seriously as a safety component, even when it is critical for the MOB recovery. Everyone seems to have focussed on the ability of a boat to tell others where it is, and forgotten that the AIS system is needed to receive the signal from a MOB beacon. Between the MOB button design problem, and no ability to find the MOB beacon, there was never any hope of recovery. So, why had the VOR, the VCA, and the Boatyard not taken the multiple AIS failures much more seriously? Sadly this is the usual problem one sees in such failures. Connecting the dots and taking it from antenna damage to inoperative safety critical system is hard. It takes a bad accident to underline the problem, and make it clear. Life is like that. There are no mission rules for a race. In many realms there will be rules that would include such things as "may not proceed if safety critical system X fails". Which on the face of it isn't so unreasonable. But it would be impossible to make a rule for the VOR that said you had to retire if your AIS broke. But entering the SO with an inoperative MOB location system sounds almost indefensible on the face of it. If anyone had stopped and realised that the system actually had become inoperative. I really hope there isn't going to be a round of finger pointing and yet more idiotic commentary from the peanut gallery about this. Everything is easy in hindsight. What matters is how things are done to address the question. Personally I think a significant change in the attitude to the design of on board electronics is needed. But that is my background, and I'm guilty of hammer/nail syndrome here. But also a change to the attitude to the operation of safety critical systems. Having the AIS be part of the MOB location is great - it leverages well developed technology. But it also left a weak link in the system that was not appreciated. Every boat that loses its AIS system has also just lost its MOB location system. Whatever reasons for the various failures of the AIS need to be assessed with that in mind. In the spectrum of "must have, should have, could have" it is a "must have". Until now it has clearly been thought of as a "should have". Some serious thought about the way the MOB button works is needed as well.
  24. Francis Vaughan

    Next VOR on IMOCAs?

    Then we get back the the safety question of righting an inverted boat. Lightweight fixed keel is not the right answer for a turtled boat. Fine that your RM comes from foils, they are not going to get your boat back upright. Might as well just give in and go multihull.
  25. Francis Vaughan

    Next VOR on IMOCAs?

    I agree that the basic Watt and Sea model used here isn't the optimal approach. The point was to use existing product and technology numbers to put bounds on the question. Not to design a solution. A design with lots of wizzy bits inside to manage variable pitch is all well and good, but getting one to the point where it could be reasonably expected to survive Leg 7 might be pushing one's luck. You need to factor collisions with all manner of crap into the design, and collisions at serious speed - much greater than off the shelf designs might be expected to survive. The easy answer is to just use multiple generators. Or even a range of designs. A towed generator might have some advantages in some circumstances. However, partnering with a manufacturer to design or customise a generator for the race is probably the way to go. As interest picks up in the technology there is clear case for a manufacturer to highlight their offerings, and to offer a very high end model, one that just so happens to be the one chosen for the VOR. I'm sure much thought has been done on this already.