It ain’t your granddaddy’s America’s Cup style racing any more. Video of the US AC 75 attempting to reach a higher altitude while rounding a mark:
Say what you want about how these aren’t sailboats and this isn’t the old America’s Cup, but to watch these boats blow around a course at 50 knots is incredible. It really is fun to watch.
Lots of folks complain that it’s no longer the grand elegant spectacle it once was. I think it was the Pope or maybe it was Mick Jagger who once sang “time waits for no one.”
I once bought the book “The Search for Speed Under Sail” just because I liked the title, so I approve of the higher speeds.
BTW, it’s “Time and tide wait for no man” and it’s a quote from Bowditch, pretty sure.
I thought the tide part was more salty I don’t think it’s actually in Bowditch… Edited my post.
Tide and time wait for no man would be right at home in Bowditch but know-it-all Google claims the original author was St. Marher in Merry Auld England back in 1225 and later used by Geoffrey Chaucer in his Canterbury Tales.
Sliding off topic but when I first read your post I thought it was A. Pope or Mick Jagger.
Everyone knows that Keith is the pope in that relationship…
The America’s Cup has evolved from an event designed for the enjoyment of its participants to a for-profit spectacle aimed at attracting an audience. As such, foiling vehicles and stadium sailing are probably here to stay, and traditional skills such as sail handling and navigation will no longer be required. It is becoming more and more clear that the rule which defines the nature of the current vehicles has unintended and potentially dangerous side effects.
The rule makers claim that their rule defines a foiling monohull when in fact it defines a kind of foiling trimaran where the amahs are replaced by a complex articulating foil mechanism that depends on stored energy (hydraulic accumulators). With one foil down and another up the configuration inherits the instability of a two-point foiling trimaran without the backup static stabilty provided by the amahs.
Stability therefore depends on the vehicle being in motion and the articulating foil mechanism being configured properly. The mechanism takes on the order of six seconds to change configuration. To maintain tradition the rulemakers required that the stored energy come from human power: “grinders” who recharge the hydraulics by cranking on pumps. This requirement raises the possibility of there not being enough power to reconfigure the foils in an emergency.
In a second bow to tradition, the rule makers forbade automated stability augmentation when flying; the vehicle must be flown purely by the collective seats of the afterguard’s pants. Since no vehicle like these has been built before, the assumption that unaugmented flight control is adequate for all contingencies had to be taken on faith (or simulations, which is much the same thing) by the rule makers. My personal opinion, based on more than a little experience working on automated flight control systems, is that relying on such an unproven assumption is dangerous folly, and that my opinion is supported by the video of the crash posted above. I acknowledge that other people may think that racing a vehicle which operates at the edge of human ability to control adds to the fun.
Another interesting factor in the crash is that when these vehicles are at speed they operate in relatively constant apparent wind. It appears that the rule allows sail control facilities to be limited to those needed while staying inside the flight envelope and capabilities useful in an unanticipated circumstance, such as the ability to depower the sail, are not required.
As with the fatal 2013 Artemis crash, we will probably never really know what happened here. Fragmentary reports indicate multiple possible factors: confusion amongst the afterguard led to the initiation of a high-risk maneuver, the vehicle exited its designed flight envelope and became uncontrolled, the force vectors which were designed to provide righting moment pointed elsewhere, and the unlucky arrival of a squall caught the essentially rigid sail and crashed the boat down on its side, holing the hull and initiating sinking. They were very lucky to avoid casualties. There are reports that at least one crew member was trapped temporarily on the vehicle because his tether failed to release.
You think the participants don’t enjoy it? Man I would give my left nut to go for a ride on one of these things. 50 knots! On a sailboat! (Air quotes)
They’re like Formula 1 cars on water. The skill and technology is amazing, and so are the crashes.
America’s Cup started as a challenge between wealthy gentlemen who owned luxury yachts and wagered money on the races. It’s always been about money even before it became a contest of design and engineering. Today’s racers are exhibiting the skills of days past at the speed of light. The current state of the sport is a natural evolution. The same evolution that propelled baseball from sand lots behind tenements to a national sport, from rum runners dodging revenue men on country roads to stadiums packed with NASCAR fans, football from a collegiate sport to the overhyped super bowl with millions of viewers glued to glitzy commercals costing a million dollars a second. Marching bands at halftime have been replaced with over the top booty shaking dancers performing thinly veiled strip shows. Americans are fascinated by spectacles that don’t necessarily conform to good taste. Like it or not, it’s the way America rolls and apparently other countries are willing to join in to some of it.
There are still races that feature 12 meters as well as auto races that feature classic cars so they haven’t disappeared.
I don’t disagree with any of that. I just think the NZ/Italian team could have done a better of job of writing the class rule. But if having a dangerous vehicle that will bite you in the ass if you blink at the wrong time attracts eyeballs, then that’s the way the event is going to go.
Works for motorsport.
Vendée Globe is nearing the finish line if people fancy more conventional sailing.
Oh, sure, but land motorsports do not have to deal with changing sea state and wind speeds. So a car with vicious handling is more consistently vicious and drivers can cope with that. An overwater flying machine that is only vicious when it takes a puff (for example) turns competition into a crapshoot. Which may be attractive to potential viewers.
Me thinks you 're grasping at straws. If your statement were true, crashes would be rare but they are not. All kinds of factors affect race car performance from fluctuating temperatures to track surface material to rain to mechanical failures to tire wear to wind effect of other cars to debris on the track etc etc…
Well, fine, if that that’s what you believe. All I can say is I spent many hours at road racing tracks and fewer but a nontrivial amount on the water and I find it hard to comprehend that the two environments are the equivalent in their ability to deliver surprises.
I like the speed and the technology as well. Truly amazing vehicles. For some inexplicable reason, 8-^) similar use of technology on the human body has been discouraged.
The fact that these boats even exist is sort of mind-blowing but I’m just a casual observer.
From the standpoint of an aficionado of the sport, because the nature of the environment they operate in and the characteristics of these machines apparently it’s more about spectacle than competition.