my Cup runneth under

Editor

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carlsbad
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So that’s that for another three years. New Zealand retains the America’s Cup 7-3. Yet apart from the excruciating – and ultimately unfair – Race 8, and the desperately lucky (for NZ) Race 9, the contest tended towards the monotonous, predictable, even anticlimactic. The faster boat won, as it always has since 1970.

(“Unfair” because the Kiwi splashdown was a clear error of commission – they gybed into the backwind of the Italians while Luna Rossa came off their foils later in that race only because the breeze had momentarily disappeared. And “lucky” in  Race 9 because textbook tactics from the Italians handed the Kiwis an undeserved winning 20% lift.)

The short, narrow courses with boundaries designed for television limited tactical options. There was no room to take a “flyer” or hang on to a favorable shift. Meanwhile, the Hauraki Gulf failed to deliver the expected stiff breezes, so the boats rarely hit anything approaching their maximum speeds.  

For the most part, watching eight of these ten races provided little more than a quick sugar hit. There were, at best, 90 seconds of genuine excitement in the pre-start, a few minutes of mild anticipation to confirm that the boat that won the start would lead at the first mark, then a five-leg procession in which there were no passes and the only real interest was to check the gap and compare VMGs and boat speeds.  

Perhaps realizing that these wham-bang-thank-you-m’am encounters lacked real drama the commentators and pundits pumped up the hype and rushed to declare the ‘return of match racing’ in Auckland, or speculate about hypothetical ‘passing lanes’. Both were in regrettably short supply. 

Back when AC boats kept their hulls in the water the pre-start dogfights could last up to ten minutes and made riveting viewing. Hitting the line on ‘zero’ was largely irrelevant. It was tough, aggressive, hand-to-hand combat. Circling, luffing, false tacks, bearing away – they used tactical flair, sheer sailing skill and every trick in the rule-book to gain an advantage.

Comparisons can be odious, but there are many other factors from the history of the America’s Cup that, considered against the series just concluded, might help explain why the AC36 racing at times seemed so alien to the fundamentals of the event.

Let’s take the 1983 challenge, Australia II v Liberty, as our base line. It was the last to be sailed at Newport and the second-last to be sailed in 12 metres. Here are a few ‘then and now’ comparisons:

*  In 1983 the 12 metres displaced around 23 tons and sailed at 8 knots. The boats were almost always in dueling contact. The foiling monomarans in Auckland weighed around 7.5 tons and could do 50 knots. Those high speeds multiply differences, so a small lead blew out to 500 metres or more very quickly. 

*  The course in Newport was 24.3 miles, including a triangle. Every point of sailing was tested, as was the stamina and concentration of the crews. The courses in Auckland were windward/leeward only, and around 10 miles in length. It was impossible, at a glance, to tell whether the AC75s were sailing uphill or downhill.

*  The average elapsed time in Newport was roughly 4 hours, with a time limit of 5 hours and 15 minutes. Mistakes could be corrected, gear failures overcome. The races in Auckland took between 25 and 40 minutes to complete – one eighth of the time. Losing the start, even by a few seconds, was usually fatal.

More significant than those stark physical contrasts are the different styles of racing. 

Until the carbon multihulls took over the Cup, all boats sailed with poled spinnakers. This added a significant tactical dimension and put a premium on crew work. One botched gybe could cost a race; a perfect delayed drop and mark rounding might win one. Each maneuver was a crucial – and visible – test of teamwork and skill.

In Auckland, eight of the eleven crew in the AC75s spent their race below gunnel level, heads down, just grinding. They were proxy engines, and rarely, if ever, touched a line or control. Sail trim was a matter of inches. To television viewers it is was if the jib and main were kept sheeted on hard for the entire race. Helming was like steering a car.

The closeness in performance of the 12 metres encouraged epic boat-on-boat battles. It was not uncommon for them to throw 30 tacks at each other on a single upwind leg. Yet in the third race in 1983 Liberty and Australia II stayed on the same tack for 22 minutes, each daring the other to break away. Multiple lead changes and come-from-behind wins were not exceptional 30 years ago. The tension for spectators was exquisite.

This year, during one sequence of 14 Prada Cup races in Auckland, the lead never changed over the 84 legs sailed – except once, when the American Magic capsize let Luna Rossa through. Then, during the Cup itself, there were just two or three genuine passes in the 59 legs sailed. It was difficult to get excited by those repetitive processions. One small mistake and it was usually game over.

None of this is to say that the event in New Zealand wasn’t worth watching. It was the America’s Cup, after all, even if – bizarrely – the worst mistake a crew could make was to actually let their ‘boat’ touch the water.

Perhaps the most revealing aspect to emerge from the series, at least for me, was that sheer speed doesn’t matter. It’s the differential that counts. Close racing is just as engrossing at 5 knots as it is at 40. All those hundreds of millions of dollars spent developing foiling monomarans might have kept a lot of sailing folk in work but it delivered no real extra value to the event. Watching boats duel at 30 knots quickly became unremarkable. 

And if it showed us anything, this competition between two low-flying seaplanes demonstrated that the pinnacle of sailing now has virtually no practical connection with what most of us know as ‘yacht racing’. Nor is it likely to have popularized the sport. The general public, if they were aware of the event at all, would have been utterly bemused.

Let’s hope that the next America’s Cup is contested in boats.

- anarchist David

 
Pre Start in 1992 had the teams sailing through the spectator fleet

I have NEVER been closer to an IACC boat in the water & have been very close to the retired USA-11 etc

The CUP boats used the fleet Including me YACHT to Shake Off the other in or before the Pre Start

coming within 3' w a Full Head of Steam only to spin around w/o touching

Fuck Me if That wasn't EXCITING

of note I was told by crew When Boats come up Pre Race DO NOT MOVE as They Have This

Worse thing you could do was try to get out of their way

So I did Not !!!

 
You didn't like it?  Lots of things in the world change over time. 

We haved moved on from the lead sleds, a while ago in fact.

Plenty of that sort of racing around after covid has done its worst. Or whatever comes next.

Go and enjoy that.

Don't like how its being run, sailed or whatever??

COME OVER AND TAKE IT THEN

Suck it up, buttercup.

Fucking whingers do my fucking head in

 

Foiling Optimist

Super Anarchist
1,187
288
Vancouver BC.
And if it showed us anything, this competition between two low-flying seaplanes demonstrated that the pinnacle of sailing now has virtually no practical connection with what most of us know as ‘yacht racing’. 

What most of us know as yacht racing is a shadow of its former self. Everyone I know has got old, or gone foiling, or in some excellent cases, both. 

 

KiwiJoker

Super Anarchist
3,734
324
Auckland, NZ
Let’s hope that the next America’s Cup is contested in boats.

- anarchist David
Yer gonna wait till hell freezes over, mate.

History passed you by.

Welcome to today's world.

WARNING  If you haven't woken up to it there is a real threat that snail mail will only be delivered once or twice a week.

t

 

The Q

Super Anarchist
Well, I saw by accident the winning race, unable to sleep at stupid O'clock in the morning..

As a technological challenge these boats? are interesting.. Sailing it is not, as the OP says tacking up and down wind very little variation in wind, on such a limited course They may as well be driving an F1 car..

 

kenergy

Super Anarchist
Well, I saw by accident the winning race, unable to sleep at stupid O'clock in the morning..

As a technological challenge these boats? are interesting.. Sailing it is not, as the OP says tacking up and down wind very little variation in wind, on such a limited course They may as well be driving an F1 car..
Sailing it is not?

Sweet jesus.

 

A Human

New member
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here
Whine whinge complain etc.

After reading the above, I'm puzzled why so many 'sailors' from a nation which has failed to come close to winning an America's Cup for more than 150 years imagines that their input on the america's cup should count for anything at all.  Abysmal sailors combined with unsporting losers e.g. I've yet to see england lose at any sport without whining "the pitch was rigged", or  "we didn't have time to prepare our boat" - when you had the same notice as everyone else - if you choose to dither on the sidelines arguing over who pays for what, that is down to you, no one else.

The excuses are as endless as the inevitable losses - you have to commit to win and always blaming some external issue demonstrates lack of commitment in favour of avoiding blame.  England has the only cricket team in the world which always rates not losing ahead of winning - hence the lousy results.  
Every tabloid inspired and greedily lapped up excuse which englanders swallow tells the rest of us how lame is england's sporting culture.

After today's victory, the government of Aotearoa has announced that it will tip $150 million into TNZ if the next AC series is held in Aotearoa, so those fantasies some parasitic car salesman sold england about how slinging a few million quid at TNZ to be the next challenger of record will guarantee the next AC is held in england seems likely to have been flushed down the gurgler.
Not that it matters, as in reality no matter where the next races are, england will turn up with more pre-planned excuses than they will have genuine innovations.

Lose the delusions that englander tabloid journos sell you in the hope that deceiving the masses that they will win the next world cup, ashes, americas cup etc.
They say that stuff because if they can lure citizens er sorry, subjects, into believing they have a chance next time, the bosses will still pay for their next junket to sit in the sun getting outside a decent beer.
Instead consider reality.  If you'll can manage that then maybe in time you will win more than a chook raffle.

 

shanghaisailor

Super Anarchist
2,988
1,202
Shanghai, China
Editor: churlish, ignorant, beyond backward in terms of yachting development? Very much so.
The Ed trying to stir it again and the site would hardly be anarchical if it didn't allow this sort of thing from time to time.

I had started to write a counter article to pull him up on his inaccuracies but Groucho Marx put it so much better and saved me a lot of typing. 

In fact to sum it up in even less words than Groucho - luddite!

 

dogwatch

Super Anarchist
16,182
1,227
South Coast, UK
And if it showed us anything, this competition between two low-flying seaplanes demonstrated that the pinnacle of sailing now has virtually no practical connection with what most of us know as ‘yacht racing’.
It has a hell of a lot more to do with what happens at my sailing club than 12m or IACC ever did.

 
David is out the front, resplendent in his sharp creased creams and navy blue Club blazer with cravat, hand cranking his Model T Ford in preparation for a sedate drive down to his Yacht Club, there to enjoy a refreshing G & T with his circle of like-minded and equally bored yachtsmen before embarking upon a challenging row out to his gaff-rigged 3knot racing shit-box swinging jauntily at its mooring in the afternoon sea breeze. 

 

Dave S

Member
372
132
And if it showed us anything, this competition between two low-flying seaplanes demonstrated that the pinnacle of sailing now has virtually no practical connection with what most of us know as ‘yacht racing’.
Welcome to the 21st Century. It's hardly the pinnacle of sailing if I can go out and buy a second-hand dinghy for a few thousand Pounds/Dollars/Euros, that will beat one of your AC leadmines around the course.

 

Mid

Super Anarchist
David is out the front, resplendent in his sharp creased creams and navy blue Club blazer with cravat, hand cranking his Model T Ford in preparation for a sedate drive down to his Yacht Club, there to enjoy a refreshing G & T with his circle of like-minded and equally bored yachtsmen before embarking upon a challenging row out to his gaff-rigged 3knot racing shit-box swinging jauntily at its mooring in the afternoon sea breeze. 
and the problem is where ?

 
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