my Cup runneth under

36thLatitude

Member
444
84
Aotearoa


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
Its all good if you loose interest and dont watch anymore.

 

KiwiJoker

Super Anarchist
3,734
324
Auckland, NZ
If David seeks fame as a recalcitrant, albeit wordy head-in-the-sand noodnik, then go for it mate. You'll get scant support or interest here.

What I violently object to are the detestable, shallow, useless clickbait tactics of our esteemed Editor in unashamedly  highlighting and promoting David's perverted thinking.

Fuck 'im I say.

 

The Q

Super Anarchist
Sailing it is not?

Sweet jesus.
Sailing you are using the elements whatever they are, to propel your boat the the best of your efforts.

This lot won't go and play unless there is a very very narrow range of wind speeds. They then tack up wind, down wind everywhere on a swimming pool of a course. No real interaction with the elements, no real waves,  the wind is just an almost set power source. They may as well be in a giant hall with a set of fans one end..

 

JALhazmat

Super Anarchist
4,846
1,848
Southampton


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
the denigration of the crew work and skill to get these boats around the course is spoken like a man that has never been over 15 kts in their life.

 

dogwatch

Super Anarchist
17,923
2,198
South Coast, UK
me thinks some are complaining just a little bit too loud that there's folks who think the current AC is a shit show ...
I see. So if "a bit too loud", how precisely how loudly, in a forum dedicated to discussion, does due etiquette permit us to tap our keyboards?

 

hasmat

Member
50
39
Toronto
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. 
I’m 62, and just started Foiling, and kiting. I’m lucky to have my health and physical capabilities. I’m too busy to complain about a sport that has left some people behind. 

 

shanghaisailor

Super Anarchist
3,163
1,306
Shanghai, China
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. 
You've met him then? ha ha

 
I'm going to passionately disagree. 
Having watched every event since Fremantle, including actually being there in ‘95, 2000, ‘03 & San Fran, I think that was the most exciting thing since forever. 
Awesome boats, beautiful setting, passionate spectators. 
Perhaps the RNZYS defence in 2000 was more traditional match racing, but that series went 5-0. 
I enjoyed it. A bunch
 

Maybe, Ed... You can’t handle the jandal!

 

bluelaser2

Member
457
96
CLE
Knowledge is hard won.  The Cup has never been anything but an event for the world's elite, so audience appeal is just not that critical a factor in format decisions.  Keeping things interesting enough to create a viable competition for those who might decide to compete is THE critical dimension.  The state of New Zealand saw value in it- and they may be correct- because the esteem of the world's elite is worth something.  There aren't many other nations so positioned.  The national (or not) character of the Cup has always also been a critical dimension. 

The idea that human power is needed to manipulate the controls may be as dated as spinnakers- crews of two are three are easily possible and can build up personality stories like NASCAR or F1 just as easily.   America's Cup has always been about boat development, but like spinnakers and human power, that too may be obsolete where one-design (again like NASCAR) just makes more sense to engage competitors.  Certainly unbounded and longer ocean courses would be more tactically interesting so that races lasted a few hours and leverage was possible.   

One design, much smaller crews, and open courses may be enough to attract more interest from more nation-based competitors.  We don't need to go back to lead mines to have a vital and compelling America's Cup, but without major changes, I can't see how another version of this attracts more than two or three competitors- if that. 

All that said, big yachts flying kites off sprits - like TP52's- would look just fine close-racing on TV and would cost a song compared to what goes now.  Or Maybe the Cup should be sailed on kite borne foil boards by single athletes from dozens of nations. 

All that really matters are enough players in an interesting enough contest.          

 

shanghaisailor

Super Anarchist
3,163
1,306
Shanghai, China
I think I saw 25 000 people on YT watching the final.

Technology going forward, mainstream interest has left the building.
Oh dear - once again lies damn lies and selective statistics. I've just checked and it is showing 363,540 views of today's racing. In addition to that the Youtube feed was only available in certain countries. I tried 5 or 6 with my VPN before I got one where it didn't have "Video is unavailable". There were lots of TV pay for view and other avenues, there was Americascup.com and here in China - China mind you where sailing is a very young sport - there  were internet feeds across 9 platforms with up to 200,000 viewers on livestream with experienced bi-lingual Chinese sailors doing simultaneous commentary so just a few multiples out on your suggested viewing figures.

Mainstream interest left behind? I don't think so, there is no sector of sailing growing faster than foiling. McConaghy alone sold over 2,000 Mach 2 Moths at approaching $20,000 a pop and are now selling Wazps (if that is the right spelling) as fast as they can build them. The Moths can do 25kts+ on an 11 foot hull by the way and youngsters love speed. 

Old buggers like you and me are not mainstream these days i am sorry to say.

My daughter is a good example of a younger person sailing faster classes. She was the top female helm in the B14 Worlds over Sydney way a couple of years back, top female helm in the Australian Lightweight Sharpie 15months or so ago (over your way actually) i think it was and not many months ago the first female helm to win the Tassie Sharpie States IN HISTORY - and that's a long history. She would have no interest in racing  my slow old lead-mine.

& it is difficult to figure whether technology drives the AMerica's CUp forward or does America's CUp drive technology forward. In the past 1st metal mast on a large yacht, electronic (sorry - electric) wind instruments to name but two.

Knowledge is hard won.  The Cup has never been anything but an event for the world's elite, so audience appeal is just not that critical a factor in format decisions.  Keeping things interesting enough to create a viable competition for those who might decide to compete is THE critical dimension.  The state of New Zealand saw value in it- and they may be correct- because the esteem of the world's elite is worth something.  There aren't many other nations so positioned.  The national (or not) character of the Cup has always also been a critical dimension. 

The idea that human power is needed to manipulate the controls may be as dated as spinnakers- crews of two are three are easily possible and can build up personality stories like NASCAR or F1 just as easily.   America's Cup has always been about boat development, but like spinnakers and human power, that too may be obsolete where one-design (again like NASCAR) just makes more sense to engage competitors.  Certainly unbounded and longer ocean courses would be more tactically interesting so that races lasted a few hours and leverage was possible.   

One design, much smaller crews, and open courses may be enough to attract more interest from more nation-based competitors.  We don't need to go back to lead mines to have a vital and compelling America's Cup, but without major changes, I can't see how another version of this attracts more than two or three competitors- if that. 

All that said, big yachts flying kites off sprits - like TP52's- would look just fine close-racing on TV and would cost a song compared to what goes now.  Or Maybe the Cup should be sailed on kite borne foil boards by single athletes from dozens of nations. 

All that really matters are enough players in an interesting enough contest.          
The America's Cup is a unique event if for no other reason than there can only be one OLDEST international sporting trophy. Change it and it is no longer the America's Cup.

It should also be remembered that for over the first 100 years of its history it was always just ONE challenger against the ONE defender (apart from a couple of defences where the NYYC played loose with the rules and there was only a need for CoR and elimination series in perhaps 1970.

All the alternative formats are already done elsewhere - small boats, lots of nations? Well that's just the Olympics isn't it? Bigger boats - national teams? There was the Sardina Cup, Southern Cross and Admirals Cup - all been and gone yet the America's Cup survives

Change it? Just imagine the furore if anyone actually did try to change it - just look at how many people moaned and groaned when RORC changed the Fastnet finish port 

 

cbulger

Member
343
294
Newport
“Love” the obvious attempt to keep the debate going - but it’s over, the future of sailing is here - just as the future of democracy is here in the US ..... if we can just avoid that civil war they are trying to start.....

 
I’m 62, and just started Foiling, and kiting. I’m lucky to have my health and physical capabilities. I’m too busy to complain about a sport that has left some people behind. 
Stop that I see what your doing ... kite flyer....get A real sailboat a SAIL  BOAT one with foils one what ever!!! Till them fuck off youngster...

 
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Swimsailor

Super Anarchist
4,965
2,237
WA
Sailing Anarchy Y2K:  "The status quo blows!"

Sailing Anarchy 2021:  "Bring back the status quo!"

The worst part of the modern America's Cup?  Listening to a bunch of has been's bitch about progress.

 


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