Sailbydate

That's not sailing...

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An interesting discussion has come up (as thread drift) on the AC forum. Nothing unusual in that, right? ;-)

The discussion centred around the use of developing servo technology and of course, using other than human power to drive this technology. I came across an interesting article on the subject, "Is the all marine hydraulic yacht the future of sailing?" written by, J Foster, Sarum Hydraulics.

Making sense of marine hydraulic sailing superyachts and what works on a weekend sailing boat.

Back in 1765, Nelson’s HMS Victory was considered ultra-high tech, a top-of-the-range mechanical platform. Up to 37 sails could be flown at the same time, with a rigging that used 26 miles of rope and 768 “blocks” or pulleys required to either change the direction of a rope or boost mechanical advantage to provide massive forces.

Fast forward 250 years and one of the most complicated examples of high tech on the seas today is an America’s Cup boat. The 2017 America’s Cup race showed us what the ultimate hydraulic yacht could achieve. It showed us the good, the bad and the ugly — and it showed us how far hydraulic-assisted sailing can go. These engineering masterpieces used a composite aerofoil wing sail in place of traditional fabric, achieving speeds of up to 50 knots (57mph). The massive wing was controlled using hydraulics, and four profiled “dagger boards” or “foils” also relied on hydraulics to be lowered and trimmed. High-tech they may have been, but was the use of hydraulics a sell-out to the purity of sailing?

https://sarum-hydraulics.co.uk/blog/marine-hydraulic/

John goes on in his article, to discuss applications for this new servos technology in sailing. It's worth a read, IMO

I'd like to know if you guys also think, "That's not sailing."

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I read an article in Seahorse a few months ago where Cayard says the same of auto pilots that are faster than humans

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Gate keeping and obsessing with definitions is one of the more tiring things. Likmonohull and multihull sailors back in the day spend more time yelling about the merits and defects of each and less about just enjoying what they have. 
 

I feel the same about folks who yell about imoca class - there’s the folks who whine about foils and apparent wind sailing “ruining” something- and folks whining about how imoca isn’t maximizing speed “not enough AOA adjustment”

 

*shrug*

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Great topic for discussion.

Part of me loves the technology leadership and cutting edge nature of the development and the resulting fast and very cool boats.  Bit like those active suspension  F1 cars from years and years ago.

Another part of me says this is like electric winches for the sheets and it has no part in racing sailboats and anyway spending huge percentages of your time charging up hydraulic pressure on column winches seems and looks pretty dam boring and relying on hydraulics to maintain stability seems far of the mark as well.

Using other clean power sources seems to be limited due to the amount of power needed so you either leave the dock fully charged up for a short race (the new AC boats etc) or you do what you can manually to keep it running (the previous AC boats and Gitana Ultim etc) and maybe run the diesel, if you have one, to make up the difference which also seems pretty compromised.

Will it make it into the lives of the average day sail, club race or cruising boat?  Seems very far off due to the complexity, maintenance, potential stability risks and of course the cost.  On some richer peoples boats it may work out but probably not for most of the 99% IMO.

Perhaps it's best to just enjoy the 1% having a go with it for the AC and record attempts and in races between similar boats and see how it matures and what spin offs it brings down stream.

I would hate to see it in something like active foil controls on the IMOCA's, plus it would for sure break down half way through a VG anyway and you'd be stuck with all that extra weight with no use. :o

 

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As long as it survived to get you around Cape Horn, you could ditch it for the light airs going up the Atlantic (purple font)

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The smart guys are the ones that figure out stuff that doesn't need a computer/servos/electrics to go fast and safely.  The technonerds can go play in AC lala land if they want but then should really go the whole hog and ditch the meat elements.    Electronics are both a boon and a curse - ask all the pilots that have forgotten how to fly...couple of French ones come to mind when they stalled themselves from 30000 feet into the S Atlantic.  No human element = no sport.

 

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The use of stored power created monsters that have not all been good for the sport. 

WOXI and all canting keelers added expense and reduced competition.  Stored power is not sailing, it's some form of go fast water sport, but not sailing as defined by the RRS we normally sail by.

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Of course it's "sailing". But speed requires more power - and power requires more force - and/or more efficiency.

This is the OR forum - so that's one set of stipulations on the matter. But the article talks a good deal about other bigger boats like the Wally. If boats keep getting bigger - especially for cruising - you have to rely on these technologies.

Anyway, I didn't see the word "propulsion" in that article. So, yeah, sailing.

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9 hours ago, Liquid said:

I read an article in Seahorse a few months ago where Cayard says the same of auto pilots that are faster than humans

I assume he was against IMOCA60 type auto pilots, Liquid? Not surprising for one of the world's top helmsman for hire, I guess.

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7 minutes ago, Sailbydate said:

I assume he was against IMOCA60 type auto pilots, Liquid? Not surprising for one of the world's top helmsman for hire, I guess.

Interestingly, PC cited the Class 40's 24 hour record that was set with no humans steering at all!

He did mention IMOCA and whether TOR would allow auto pilots or not... 

 

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16 minutes ago, Liquid said:

Interestingly, PC cited the Class 40's 24 hour record that was set with no humans steering at all!

He did mention IMOCA and whether TOR would allow auto pilots or not... 

 

Which was such a poor record it was barely over the proto 6.5 24hr record and got absolutely smashed by Credit Mutual last year. 

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2 minutes ago, Miffy said:

Which was such a poor record it was barely over the proto 6.5 24hr record and got absolutely smashed by Credit Mutual last year. 

I got no dog in this hunt! Just what I read...

 

No auto pilot on Credit Mutual (what kinda boat)?

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Class 40 scow designed by David Raison. It most definitely had an autopilot and did 415nm in 24hr during TJV. 
 

The prior class 40 record was like 378nm. The new scows are much more able to stay steady and stay over waves and not accelerate and drive bows in. Can stay on AP much better. 
 

For perspective a series mini 6.5 scow managed 292nm in 24hrs last minitransat. I forget what the proto record was but yah... hulls are getting easier to drive and steer and APs are getting better- particularly in true wind modes it doesn’t get tired and lose concentration or need to see to work at night. 
 

Personally I think APs are just part of shorthanded sailing - you trim your sails and adjust your setup and let the AP do its job. It is no less technically challenging and windvanes have been steering since the first long distance events. Luddites will ban it in strange events like golden globe or ocean race (to give 65s more of a chance against foiling imocas) - but it is such a poorly conceived narrow minded idea. 

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if it is wind impelled than it is sailing, imho. although it might not be yachting...;)

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The same could be asked of any sort of electronic aid. How about layline plotting, time to manouver, time to layline, reverse TWD and loads of other metric that once upon a time required knowing your boat, observation and feel? Exagerate this and the same could be said of logs, anemometers and other sensor, like gradient calculation aiding trim.

I love the techie and nerdy stuff and the sort of fast sail and sail by numbers approach. However I love as much the charm of sailing with no aid at all and its pureness. They are just not the same sort of sailing in the sense that they evoke different feelings.

As for autopilots, they are obviously great tools and a must have to be able to race DH or solo over long distances or competitively, but of course, competing with a relatively cheap AP against a disproportionately expensive one is no different than competing with a newbie holding the tiller or a pro being paid to steer. But then let us not get into the economics of sailing... 

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The June issue of Seahorse has an article about the latest pilots using AI to manage multiple parameters instead of just Heading or Wind Angle. They can set different modes to combine multiple inputs such as sailing a specific TWA within a range of heel angles and the pilot will luff or bear off as either range is exceeded. Vincent Riou is quoted as saying some modes can be scary because the pilot will sail the boat far more aggressively than the skipper will be comfortable with. "We wouldn't dare attack like that at the helm, it's demonic. The pilot acts like us, minus the fear." 

 

 

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3 hours ago, A3A said:

The June issue of Seahorse has an article about the latest pilots using AI to manage multiple parameters instead of just Heading or Wind Angle. They can set different modes to combine multiple inputs such as sailing a specific TWA within a range of heel angles and the pilot will luff or bear off as either range is exceeded. Vincent Riou is quoted as saying some modes can be scary because the pilot will sail the boat far more aggressively than the skipper will be comfortable with. "We wouldn't dare attack like that at the helm, it's demonic. The pilot acts like us, minus the fear." 

 

 

Wow. That would be BIG scary.

Maybe like your kid brother driving your Revo, 500hp VW Golf R, like he stole it. Fuuuuuuuck!

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1 hour ago, Sailbydate said:

Wow. That would be BIG scary.

Maybe like your kid brother driving your Revo, 500hp VW Golf R, like he stole it. Fuuuuuuuck!

Sam Davis is quoted in that article as saying the foiling Imoca are now simply too fast to be helmed well by a human. Lots of good stuff about the Ultim APs as well and the Oscar system is also discussed. 

Great article and well worth reading if you can hold of a copy. One of the very few remaining good sailing magazine it seems. 

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2 minutes ago, jb5 said:

Sam Davis is quoted in that article as saying the foiling Imoca are now simply too fast to be helmed well by a human. Great article and well worth reading if you can hold of a copy. Lots of good stuff about the Ultim APs as well. 

Thanks, JB. The only thing standing in my way is the ubiquitous paywall. :-(

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1 hour ago, Sailbydate said:

Thanks, JB. The only thing standing in my way is the ubiquitous paywall. :-(

Mate I feel old fashioned but I still get the glossy paper version so i can drool over it. 

From that article an interesting thing about some of the new APs such as Madbrain from Madintec (real names) is they are working in the tenths of a degree. No more one degree increments anymore and the margin of error is only a couple of tenths of a degree. They are also using multiple GPS' to allow for data re-synchronization in a consistent manner due to the differences in frequency of some sensors. The number of sensors is also high. Gitana  Ultim has 500.

All great stuff. 

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29 minutes ago, jb5 said:

Mate I feel old fashioned but I still get the glossy paper version so i can drool over it. 

From that article an interesting thing about some of the new APs such as Madbrain from Madintec (real names) is they are working in the tenths of a degree. No more one degree increments anymore and the margin of error is only a couple of tenths of a degree. They are also using multiple GPS' to allow for data re-synchronization in a consistent manner due to the differences in frequency of some sensors. The number of sensors is also high. Gitana  Ultim has 500.

All great stuff. 

I found that article a little disappointing.  I was led to believe the autopilots were already way more sophisticated than what that article reported - measuring boat attitude and acceleration down waves, for example, and correcting accordingly to pre-empt the boat.   Maybe there's more to it than they are letting on.  Sailing a range of heel angles x a range of wind angles isn't much more complex than to the adaptive cruise control in my VW.  

Remember that the pilot's effectiveness will always be limited by sail trim - the range of angles the pilot can work with is limited by the range of angles the sail plan at that moment can deal with without losing drive.  It is noticeable that the trim the filing IMOCAs use these days is very twisted - presumably to allow good drive from the rig over a reasonable range of AWA. 

In theory, you could easily enough build in automated trim adjustment too, with sensors measuring drive force. Then we really are in new territory.

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24 minutes ago, DickDastardly said:

I found that article a little disappointing.  I was led to believe the autopilots were already way more sophisticated than what that article reported - measuring boat attitude and acceleration down waves, for example, and correcting accordingly to pre-empt the boat.   Maybe there's more to it than they are letting on.  Sailing a range of heel angles x a range of wind angles isn't much more complex than to the adaptive cruise control in my VW.  

Remember that the pilot's effectiveness will always be limited by sail trim - the range of angles the pilot can work with is limited by the range of angles the sail plan at that moment can deal with without losing drive.  It is noticeable that the trim the filing IMOCAs use these days is very twisted - presumably to allow good drive from the rig over a reasonable range of AWA. 

In theory, you could easily enough build in automated trim adjustment too, with sensors measuring drive force. Then we really are in new territory.

Excellent choice of MV, Dick. ;-)

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At the other end of the spectrum, does stored power in model yachting mean it is not sailing?

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All of this makes me really appreciate even more the truly incredible performance that IDEC Sport put in through the India Ocean with that succession of giant days during their successful JV/RTW  run.  They had 6 on board. I don't think they would have been using the AP, if it was even installed (weight).  Of course they also had some of the very best of the best offshore sailors on board.

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There is no need to reinvent the wheel tiller here, F1 has already been through multiple iterations of technological constraints and financial bubbles that we can look at and learn from. The fundamental point must be that sailing has to be concentrated on the human aspect in an exciting way, otherwise it quickly turns into a "dog fight" of who has the fattest wallet.

But just like F1, there can be multiple different types of racing machines. Don't have a big budget? Go buy a kart or J80. A bit of a daredevil? Get yourself a trophy truck or a multihull. Don't care that anyone but geeks and nerds watch your racing circuit? Build an entirely autonomous sailing machine without any humans at all.

Myself, I have loved TO WATCH the big one design racing (Volvo, Tour de France à la Voile, etc). But I have loved to "study" and discuss the experimental classes (IMOCA, AC).

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