Americas Cup

Innocent Bystander

Super Anarchist
11,749
757
Lower Southern MD
After having paid NO attention to the last cup (where?/when?/who?) or the lead up to this one, I happened to be in SFO 2 days prior to the beginning of this series and decided to take a walk down to the pier to check things out and from what I saw became interested enough to decide to watch the first race and was surprised to be absolutely spellbound enough so I started scheduling everything else I do so I could be free at 4:00 ET. It's nothing like the sailing I do or even the small amount of racing I've done, but I couldn't take my eyes off it and found myself becoming quite peeved at the commercials that always happened when some drama on the course was unfolding. What a show!!! I'm an airline pilot but can still enjoy and appreciate what the Blue Angels or Thunderbirds do.

The above story about the stability augmentation system being responsible for the dramatic increase in USA's fortunes makes sense because the USA boat went from being noticeably slower than NZ upwind to much faster and I just can't accept that much of that difference was due to the USA crews learning curve being about 5X steeper than the Kiwi's learning curve was or that making a few physical changes to the boat could result in so much difference. On TV they mentioned that USA removed some weight but there's no way the small amount of weight removed could make that big a difference either.

If USA had a stab aug computer fine tuning their foils for them then I find it very disappointing and feel like that's something whiich should have been sorted out prior to the start of the regatta in time for both teams to have one if they so chose. I don't buy the USA argument that it's OK because muscles/grinders provided the power to actually move and tune the foils because using that rationale the next time around we could have nothing but a team of grinders running both a generator to provide electric power and a hydraulic pump to move the control surfaces, with the electricity powering a computer coupled to hydraulic servos powering the movement of the all the control surfaces including the foils, with a skipper/tactician app that would make decisions when to tack, where the best wind is, etc.

I cheered for Spithill/OracleUSA throughout the series but now I feel really bad for all the Kiwi's, especially if they lost due to the USA boat giving fine tuning control of their foils over to a computer.
It is a design competition as much as a sailing one. The designs always push the edges of the rules and thats why the MC has historically provided "private opinions where a team can submit a design approach and get a ruling on legal or not without showing their cards. Perhaps you feel the teams should freeze their designs several months in advance and publish all design data in order to make sure all competitors benefit for t their investment and IP.

Not going to happen and no reason to do it. OR had no obligation to share with TNZ any more than Ben Lexan was obligated to share winged keel data with the defender.

If you are a pilot, then you know stab aug predates the 747 by several decades so take sail works story with a grain of salt.

 

jtsailjt

Member
After having paid NO attention to the last cup (where?/when?/who?) or the lead up to this one, I happened to be in SFO 2 days prior to the beginning of this series and decided to take a walk down to the pier to check things out and from what I saw became interested enough to decide to watch the first race and was surprised to be absolutely spellbound enough so I started scheduling everything else I do so I could be free at 4:00 ET. It's nothing like the sailing I do or even the small amount of racing I've done, but I couldn't take my eyes off it and found myself becoming quite peeved at the commercials that always happened when some drama on the course was unfolding. What a show!!! I'm an airline pilot but can still enjoy and appreciate what the Blue Angels or Thunderbirds do.

The above story about the stability augmentation system being responsible for the dramatic increase in USA's fortunes makes sense because the USA boat went from being noticeably slower than NZ upwind to much faster and I just can't accept that much of that difference was due to the USA crews learning curve being about 5X steeper than the Kiwi's learning curve was or that making a few physical changes to the boat could result in so much difference. On TV they mentioned that USA removed some weight but there's no way the small amount of weight removed could make that big a difference either.

If USA had a stab aug computer fine tuning their foils for them then I find it very disappointing and feel like that's something whiich should have been sorted out prior to the start of the regatta in time for both teams to have one if they so chose. I don't buy the USA argument that it's OK because muscles/grinders provided the power to actually move and tune the foils because using that rationale the next time around we could have nothing but a team of grinders running both a generator to provide electric power and a hydraulic pump to move the control surfaces, with the electricity powering a computer coupled to hydraulic servos powering the movement of the all the control surfaces including the foils, with a skipper/tactician app that would make decisions when to tack, where the best wind is, etc.

I cheered for Spithill/OracleUSA throughout the series but now I feel really bad for all the Kiwi's, especially if they lost due to the USA boat giving fine tuning control of their foils over to a computer.
It is a design competition as much as a sailing one. The designs always push the edges of the rules and thats why the MC has historically provided "private opinions where a team can submit a design approach and get a ruling on legal or not without showing their cards. Perhaps you feel the teams should freeze their designs several months in advance and publish all design data in order to make sure all competitors benefit for t their investment and IP.

Not going to happen and no reason to do it. OR had no obligation to share with TNZ any more than Ben Lexan was obligated to share winged keel data with the defender.

If you are a pilot, then you know stab aug predates the 747 by several decades so take sail works story with a grain of salt.
I do realize that stab augs in airplanes have been around for quite awhile but don't think that minor detail in itself invalidates the story.

No, I don't think that all design details should be shared prior to racing, but a stab aug isn't a design detail, it's a powered mechanical device that moves control surfaces in a manner that no human is capable of. I think the line should have been drawn at only sailors being allowed to sail the boat, not machines doing things the sailors brains and reflexes aren't fast enough to accomplish.

 

Jim in Halifax

Super Anarchist
1,672
748
Nova Scotia
Call it cheating, call it design competition, call it bending the rules...It has been a fact of race competitions since Ben Hur was in his chariot. And its not unique to any any one country either...remember that other Ben - - - Lexcen???

The problem is that high-stakes, high dollar, short duration racing like AC actually promotes this type of cheating activity. This is why AC has little relevance to the average sailor, other than being titillating entertainment. Unlike solo round-the-world racing, which has positively influenced what and how we sail, from designs (cf. Beneteau, Chuck Paine, et al) to equipment like autopilots and energy systems. Not to take away from all the enjoyment you sports fans have had...just my soap box speech.

 

Innocent Bystander

Super Anarchist
11,749
757
Lower Southern MD
After having paid NO attention to the last cup (where?/when?/who?) or the lead up to this one, I happened to be in SFO 2 days prior to the beginning of this series and decided to take a walk down to the pier to check things out and from what I saw became interested enough to decide to watch the first race and was surprised to be absolutely spellbound enough so I started scheduling everything else I do so I could be free at 4:00 ET. It's nothing like the sailing I do or even the small amount of racing I've done, but I couldn't take my eyes off it and found myself becoming quite peeved at the commercials that always happened when some drama on the course was unfolding. What a show!!! I'm an airline pilot but can still enjoy and appreciate what the Blue Angels or Thunderbirds do.

The above story about the stability augmentation system being responsible for the dramatic increase in USA's fortunes makes sense because the USA boat went from being noticeably slower than NZ upwind to much faster and I just can't accept that much of that difference was due to the USA crews learning curve being about 5X steeper than the Kiwi's learning curve was or that making a few physical changes to the boat could result in so much difference. On TV they mentioned that USA removed some weight but there's no way the small amount of weight removed could make that big a difference either.

If USA had a stab aug computer fine tuning their foils for them then I find it very disappointing and feel like that's something whiich should have been sorted out prior to the start of the regatta in time for both teams to have one if they so chose. I don't buy the USA argument that it's OK because muscles/grinders provided the power to actually move and tune the foils because using that rationale the next time around we could have nothing but a team of grinders running both a generator to provide electric power and a hydraulic pump to move the control surfaces, with the electricity powering a computer coupled to hydraulic servos powering the movement of the all the control surfaces including the foils, with a skipper/tactician app that would make decisions when to tack, where the best wind is, etc.

I cheered for Spithill/OracleUSA throughout the series but now I feel really bad for all the Kiwi's, especially if they lost due to the USA boat giving fine tuning control of their foils over to a computer.
It is a design competition as much as a sailing one. The designs always push the edges of the rules and thats why the MC has historically provided "private opinions where a team can submit a design approach and get a ruling on legal or not without showing their cards. Perhaps you feel the teams should freeze their designs several months in advance and publish all design data in order to make sure all competitors benefit for t their investment and IP.

Not going to happen and no reason to do it. OR had no obligation to share with TNZ any more than Ben Lexan was obligated to share winged keel data with the defender.

If you are a pilot, then you know stab aug predates the 747 by several decades so take sail works story with a grain of salt.
I do realize that stab augs in airplanes have been around for quite awhile but don't think that minor detail in itself invalidates the story.

No, I don't think that all design details should be shared prior to racing, but a stab aug isn't a design detail, it's a powered mechanical device that moves control surfaces in a manner that no human is capable of. I think the line should have been drawn at only sailors being allowed to sail the boat, not machines doing things the sailors brains and reflexes aren't fast enough to accomplish.

Please note that the article, with all its inaccuracies, was written and published by the Kiwi writer and editor of SailWorld in Auckland. Just because it was published on the internet doesn't give it any more validity than a rumor in a bar.

As to what should be allowed? We don't get a vote. It is a bleeding edge development class and the MC is empowered to interpret the rule and determine what is and isn't legal. After the fact legal wrangling is non productive and very poor form. As has been posted elsewhere, the rule was intended to not allow full foiling and ENTZ developed and got approved the ability to move the pivot point while sailing and the MC found it to be rule legal. That changed the game entirely. Should NZ now be disqualified after the fact for circumventing the rule.

None of us know how OTUSA's system worked but it was presented to the MC and found within the rule. NZ protested "after the time limit" but was also told their protest would not have prevailed. The MC continued to approve certificates for OTUSA on a near daily basis, knowing that the system existed and the challenger had questioned it.

I do hope this is Kiwi media and fans being poor losers and the professional and respected sailing and shore team stay out of it and above the pettiness.

 

jtsailjt

Member
Please note that the article, with all its inaccuracies, was written and published by the Kiwi writer and editor of SailWorld in Auckland. Just because it was published on the internet doesn't give it any more validity than a rumor in a bar.

As to what should be allowed? We don't get a vote. It is a bleeding edge development class and the MC is empowered to interpret the rule and determine what is and isn't legal. After the fact legal wrangling is non productive and very poor form. As has been posted elsewhere, the rule was intended to not allow full foiling and ENTZ developed and got approved the ability to move the pivot point while sailing and the MC found it to be rule legal. That changed the game entirely. Should NZ now be disqualified after the fact for circumventing the rule.

None of us know how OTUSA's system worked but it was presented to the MC and found within the rule. NZ protested "after the time limit" but was also told their protest would not have prevailed. The MC continued to approve certificates for OTUSA on a near daily basis, knowing that the system existed and the challenger had questioned it.

I do hope this is Kiwi media and fans being poor losers and the professional and respected sailing and shore team stay out of it and above the pettiness.
I agree that at this point none of us know what caused the USA boat to gain SO much speed so suddenly, relative to the Kiwi boat that was also desperately seeking more speed. Also, at no time did I expect Larry Ellison or the international team of judges to call me up and ask me what my vote was. I don't yet accept the article as fact and am always suspicious of claims made by those with their own axes to grind such as a Kiwi sailing publication could be assumed to have under these circumstances. But I do think it's the most plausible explanation I've heard of so far and if it's true it disappoints me and worries me. But I'm not saying it is cheating or illegal. There is a framework all set up that decides legality and illegality and apparently they deemed that both the NZ foils were legal AND whatever USA did to suddenly go faster was also legal and that's all good. Once again, I'm not questioning whether anything done by either team was legal or not.

I AM saying that my personal OPINION (isn't that what forums like this are for?) is that the line should be drawn to prevent mechanical or computer controlled devices from actually controlling and moving control surfaces without any intelligent input from those "sailors" who are supposedly sailing the boat. Now, IF that line has been crossed, where do we draw the line somewhere short of future Americas Cup "sailors" consisting entirely of a team of 250# musclebound grinders who are just along to generate electricity and hydraulic power and to enjoy the ride while a computer steers, trims the sails and makes tactical decisions, all in an "optimum" way, similar to the way this article claims the USA foils were controlled?

 

boomer

Super Anarchist
16,445
1,390
PNW
The legalities of the SAS were already approved, but team Oracle didn't have them dialed in. After they got their collective asses handed to them, in the first 11 races and behind with only one win to the Kiwis eight wins.They had their backs were at the wall, that was the reason they called a time out, they knew changes had to be made.

It was a combination of many aspects of the learning curve of Oracle's sailing team and the Oracle builders and technicians optimizing the hull each night in the shed. Heard they brought in beds or cots for bulders and technicians, since quite often they worked into the wee hours of the morning, these guys are the unsung heroes of Team Oracle. Then they had another team of sailors headed by Russel Couts and Kostecki studying film,and what the Kiwis were doing right, and what Oracle was doing wrong, and to make changes accordingly.

Oracle has always had a faster boat, it just took them a while to figure out how to get the best out of it. When Spithill waved the flag, it was primarily the team had lost confidence the boat. Bringing Ben Ainslie on board was an easy call. It also become clear that Spithill was much more comfortable with Ben and Tom Slingsby putting their heads together with him, by their ongoing collective discussion throughout each race.

They had to get the hull trim up, notice how much Oracle's bows are down in the first 11 races. In the windier races they removed the bow sprit, and some of weight, but more importantly doing so cleaned up the windage underneath the boat.They also perfected their foil-by-wire system and they also dialed in the rake control software on the foils,which combined are the primary components of the stability augmentation system. They also made changes to the wing. If you rake aft the center of effort changes giving you more rudder angle/weather helm. This allowed them to twist off the leech of the main more and center the boom. without having to oversheet the leech of the main. This helped also got the weight aft as far as possible, which meant less hull-dragging and burying through tacks and better acceleration out of tacks.

Halfway through the finales Oracle finally learned how to flybe or tack without loosing a precious four seconds on each gybe or tack. Look at how Oracle changed doing the foil adjustments during tacks in the later races. At the initiation of the tack they dropped the new board and adjusted the Angle of Attack of the foils (old and new) the old foil increases its AOA at the same time that it is accelerating during the rotation of the tack which lifts the new windward hull. This was the big difference that NZ was doing right while OR were stuck in the water during the tacks earlier in the finals. They also dialed in the correct angles for the start of the reach and adjust for the reach once up to speed, as well as the windward mark roundings and flybes.

Going to weather, the old foot to point came into play as well by falling off a bit a gaining speed increased VMG and contributed much as well as using the right side of the course more. There splits, strategy and tactics both upwind and down continued to improve significantly. Spitill's tenacity on the starts never let up as well, knowing this would affect the other crews composure. Very importantly from top to bottom Team Oracle never gave up. All of the above combined made for a sailing machine that got around the course significantly faster at the end of the finales then in the beginning.

 
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olaf hart

Super Anarchist
Great summary Boomer.

It was about a series of incremental changes, and Oracle had the shore crew and boat crew to implement them.

NZ didnt. They had optimised their boat at the end of the LV series, and didn't have as much room to move.

Ultimately, most contested races were decided on the upwind leg. Early on it belonged to NZ.

As the series drew on, Oracle outsailed NZ and owned that leg

I also enjoyed the subliminal battle of Aus vs NZ, especially the way Jimmy Spithill psyched Dean Barker out in the press conferences.

Most Americans wouldnt get it, there is a lot of history around Aus vs NZ in sport.

 

jtsailjt

Member
jtsailjthttps://xffinal.sailinganarchy.com/index.php?showuser=100534:

Advancing technology is always a problem. Sextant-only versus electronic navigation systems? Electric winches? Auto-pilots?
Are they really using electric winches and autopilots on America's cup boats now, or what point are you trying to make? I love the advances made in design in Americas Cup competition but I don't think it should include machines and computers that actually move control surfaces to compensate for changing conditions, without any human input. Electronic navigation systems and wind/current analysis provided to the crew for them to interpret are great but I don't think you should be able to bypass the crew and just couple it up to the autopilot and watch the boat sail the optimum course. That, in effect, is what a stab aug system does. It detects minute changes and makes tiny, quick, adjustments to a control surface in order to maintain proper stability so the boat sails in a smoother and more efficient way through the water and it does it without involving the crew. I'm all for trying to achieve smoothness and efficiency but when it comes to moving control surfaces in order to achieve that, it should be the crew, not a stab aug or electronic autopilot that is actively operating the controls. If you don't agree with that, then tell me where you'd draw the line. Early autopilots were barely able to hold a course, but we're not far from where a sophisticated autopilot and sail trimmer coupled to a computer will be able to out-skipper the best that humankind has to offer. I'm thinking there wouldn't be much of a crowd that would come out to watch a couple of crewless boats sail around a course on the water just to see which teams software update was more up to date.

Where is the appropriate place to draw the line when it comes to automation on America's Cup boats? I think it should be just before the point where a control surface moves intelligently all by itself to counteract changing conditions without the crew even being involved except to provide hydraulic pressure.

 

SemiSalt

Super Anarchist
7,791
288
WLIS
It detects minute changes and makes tiny, quick, adjustments to a control surface in order to maintain proper stability so the boat sails in a smoother and more efficient way through the water and it does it without involving the crew.
The sensing wand gizmo (whatever you call it) on Moth does the same thing mechanically. The 72 class rules prohibit doing it electronically. So you get into a pretty technical area. What kind of mechanical system is allowed?

 

boomer

Super Anarchist
16,445
1,390
PNW
Mostly the obvious and sure there were a multitude of unnoticeable minor changes. So many are pointing at the SAS as the primary source of improvement, when there were many changes no matter how insignificant. Rather then the SAS, one of the most significant was Oracle's race course management continued to improve after Ben Ainslie came on board. No doubt much input on that course management, came in after races meetings with Oracle's brain trust.

 
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Simply the best thing about this version of the Americas cup is,

Many people that would never even think about sailing may now actually be interested.....

Do a simple poll of your non-sailing friends and ask them if they watched any of the racing, or any of the highlights or replays, or heard anything about sailboat racing over the last few weeks. I bet most will have heard or seen something to do with this race.

The exposure of new people to sailing is the winner here. ;)

 
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sassthathoopie

New member
6
4
Europe
I read this on Yachting World, this morning. Matt Sheahan normally has an interesting take on things:

Matt said:

Having remained in San Francisco for a few days after the end of the event, I got to speak to a number of people about what was really going on. It didn't take long for the real picture of what was behind the speed improvements to emerge.

Oracle's jump in performance half way through the America's Cup is still the subject of hot debate, particularly among the New Zealand press who are convinced that the black cat had some special device that allowed them to foil more effectively. Was the ‘Herbie', as it became nicknamed, legal? Would Team New Zealand take legal action?

The speculation should have been brought to a halt after team boss Grant Dalton confirmed on Saturday that the team would not be taking legal action over the alleged device. But the chatter still goes on.

Oracle's two boats were very different in their handling characteristics, indeed so much so that they were nicknamed by the crews, ‘the wife' and ‘the mistress', the latter being boat number one, the more lively, wayward boat. Modified extensively after the big crash in October, the mistress, which was the boat Ben Ainslie helmed during two boat training, was twitchy and difficult to keep under control. (Incidentally, I'm told that Ben's full-on attitude towards helming the mistress often gave her crew the jitters.)

Boat number two ‘the wife', Spithill's machine, was a far better balanced and dependable machine. This was the boat that went on to be in the Cup, but even then she was a very different boat by the end of the event.

Here are some of the modifications that took place.

Rudder T foil modification
This was one of the biggest performance enhancing changes.
The T-foils on Oracle's rudders were found to be cavitating at speed which caused drag and reduced the lift of the foil. The bubble was developing at the intersection of the vertical rudder and horizontal foil, towards the after end. To reduce this a filet was added.
But I'm also hearing that a nose cone type device was also fitted to the forward end of the rudder foil intersection to move the pressure distribution, much like the bulbous bow on a ship.
While the modifications may have reduced the drag of the rudder, there may well have been an improvement in the trim of the boat too. With more efficient lift at the back, it may have been possible to reduce the angle of attack of the main foils, reducing drag further.

Hull interceptor
A vertical plate like device known as an interceptor was fitted to the transoms to modify the flow out from the stern and reduce drag. The system acts like a boot spoiler on a car and is a popular device on boats like Open 60s.

Asymmetric set up
I'm told that the boat was set up asymmetrically, possibly with a bit more angle of attack on the starboard daggerboard. This improved the boat's performance on port tack, allowing the crew to put the bows down, go for more speed, pop up onto the foils, increasing speed as the drag reduced and yet still maintain the same true wind angle on port.

On starboard the boat performed less well, but with the breeze cranked around more to the left, there was more port tack action than starboard.

When they were sailing downwind on starboard, the boat sailed deeper for the same speed as the foil hauled the boat to leeward making a better VMG downwind. Again with left hand breeze there was more starboard tack than port.

Mast Rake
The rig was raked further aft to make the boat point better and improve her balance.

Wing power lower down
More power was generated in the wingsail by sailing with a more vertical leech in the lower sections and twisting the op off more.

Bowsprit
The team made plenty of play of this, most likely as it was the most visible change, but the reality was that removing it for breezy days reduced weight and windage. The latter was however particularly important with 50knots over the deck upwind.

Main foil adjustment
Contrary to the Kiwi press' speculations, the boat did not have a ‘Stability Augmentation System' (SAS) fitted. I'm led to believe that the team did look into something along these lines early on but ditched the idea.
Instead, the main foils were adjusted with a mechanical ratchet style device that had fixed settings for a variety of angles of attack. Broadly speaking similar to the way that a bicycles gears are changed with a lever and fixed settings.

Other differences
Although not specific alterations, there were other key differences with the main foils. Oracle has much shallower foils, by around 1m and are much less curved than the Kiwis. Presumably one of the advantages here was lower drag from the reduced wetted surface area. A visible clue to this was how Oracle rode lower to the water's surface than the kiwi boat. A less welcome characteristic aboard Oracle when at speed was that the boat would rise up so far that the main foil would run out of lateral support and jump sideways, planting the boat back down on the water. We saw this on a few occasions when she was being pressed hard on the first leg and around the first mark.

Key game changer
I'm also told that Oracle's big changes, I think to the rudder, were made on the 16 October, the day that both teams agreed to take off rather than race. In hindsight this could have been one of the Kiwis' big mistakes as they were on a roll at this point having 7 points to Oracle's one. Agreeing to a day off allowed Oracle to engineer their biggest leap in performance as the built the major mod. Although this didn't give them an instant win straight away, it took just one race to tweak the boat after which they won every race from the 19th onwards.

The Kiwis only won a single race after the 16th.

Read more at http://www.yachtingworld.com/blogs/matthew-sheahan/535348/america-s-cup-what-was-changed-on-oracle#LiRQmJGRPSm6z5of.99

 

Hike Bitches!

Super Anarchist
7,362
156
Solomons, MD
Are we giving the newbie a break? I guess this is the softer side of SA. I had already read that piece from YW, but I do appreciate it was posted here as well.. I agree that is seems that many small incremental changes made the difference.

 
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Ishmael

52,500
12,297
Fuctifino
Are we giving the newbie a break? I guess this is the softer side of SA. I had already read that piece from YW, but I do appreciate it was posted here as well.. I agree that is seems that many small incremental changes made the difference.
He seems to have come out well on the information/tit ratio, but there are rules.

 

boomer

Super Anarchist
16,445
1,390
PNW
Pretty much all what was written in that article as it played out on the course.

The only difference to come to light recently is Oracle is now saying they didn't use SAS.

Gotta agree with HB on this one and the preacher is correct, there are rules.

 
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