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Archive for February, 2010

Some pics from Valencia

February 8th, 2010 No comments

The one thing that is hard to convey in a picture is the sheer size of these boats.  Take a look at Alingi – I took these yesterday when they put their mast up.  The blob at the top is a grown man taking the crane rope off!

Alinghi steps her mast in Valencia

Alinghi steps her mast in Valencia

Yes - its human

Yes - its human

Take a look at this close-up.  It’s mind boggling how wide that mast is.  It has a sail area on its own in excess of most boats!

Alinghi Mast

Alinghi Mast

Categories: Arthur, Sailing Tags:

Coutts rates failure chance at 30%

February 8th, 2010 No comments

According to Eurosport Russell Coutts (CEO – BMW Oracle Racing) rates the chances of failure as high as 30%!  This is in line with some of my comments over the past few months – it may well end up being the boat that manages to finish that wins.

Still waiting for wind in Valencia.  BMW weighing in 4 tons heavier than Alinghi, 5m higher rig and of course that huge wing rather than a more conventional soft cloth sail.

Beauty and the Beast. Let the games begin…

Wind??

February 8th, 2010 No comments

No wind at the start and not much more at the other end of the 20m single leg. Race postpomed.  This is good for Alinghi if  it stays light – conventional wisdom has it that light air favours the Swiss.

A fair amount of bobbing around going on at the moment.  Eurosport commentators fishing for something to say.

Categories: Arthur, Sailing Tags:

The race is on!

February 8th, 2010 No comments

Just got back from Valencia where I tried to see the boats – decided the action is better followed at home on the telly!

Wonderful huge machines, but unfortunately along with their tremendous speeds comes a race that takes place out of sight of all who dont have a RIB!  I did get to see Alingi go out yesterday and saw her sailing at a distance. Also saw USA (at a distance).

Hats off to Alinghi in the pre-race area.  They took the effort to put an exhibition in place (and of course showed off their cup).  They also moored “Beauty” in the Darsena harbour where the public could get within 50m of it.  The Americans not only moored in the commercial harbour where access was impossible except by boat, they also didnt bother with any sort of facility beyond the inevitable shop.  So most people’s view of BMW Oracle is a shop surrounded by all the BMW courtesy cars and thats that. Oh – and the tip of that 75m wing showing over the cranes.

Will post pictures in a short while – for now the race is about to begin so its off to the telly!

Categories: Arthur, Sailing Tags: ,

Beauty and the Beast – Alinghi vs USA

February 5th, 2010 No comments

Next week monday two very different boats take to the water in a best of 3 race series.  Alinghi – the Swiss entry – is a beautiful, stiff and light catamaran.  Clearly able to sail in very light air she looks to be the favourite for low wind conditions. BMW Oracle – USA – is a typical american – loud, brash and strong.

Prior to the fitting of the wing sail to USA this scribe would not have rated her chances against the beauty that is Alinghi.  A clearly heavier boat, with a trimaran configuration that is only as efficient as the cat if the center hull is out the water.  Added to that this is a bendy boat (she clearly flexes – stiff it is not) and it all looks a bit messy.

But what have we seen in the past few months?  USA flies her center hull in nearly all conditions, so she is more a cat than a tri.  Very early on they removed the centerboard and rudder on the center hull.  She added a wing sail that made her way more powerful without adding load to those obviously stressed hulls.  If she does emerge victorious this wing sail will be the weapon that delivered the knockout punch.

The wing is almost twice as efficient as a normal cloth sail in delivering lift (propulsion).  Added to that it is a lot easier to control which means they were able to go bigger with the wing.  And that they did!  Just compare the picture below of Alinghi to the USA one below that and it is clear that the wing is a huge sail area advantage (remember you can almost double its size in terms of the propulsion it can supply).  So now we have a somewhat bendy, relatively heavy, trimaran that looks more like a cat with a sail plan that could just make the difference.

On the Swiss side we have a work of art – a catamaran built to outclass every cat before it – an absolute picture of perfection.  Except it doesnt have a wing sail.  Is this important?  They say not. Not much change for some time on Alinghi apart from the centerboards.  USA went from a straight board to C shaped boards to provide added lift on the leeward hull.  Alinghi, interestingly, went the other way. They launched with really interesting looking S shaped foils but now seem to have settled on straight ones.

Alinghi in Valencia (c) Ed Baird / Alinghi

Alinghi in Valencia (c) Ed Baird / Alinghi

Look at how perfectly setup that rig is.  Forestay nice and tight.  Sails beautifully shaped.  Hulls parallel (no twist).  Clearly a boat that is perfection in the design that it is.

So – will Beauty slay the Beast?  Monday will probably yield the answer.  Clearly the weather will play a huge role, but I dont go with the argument that USA will struggle in light air – they have shown with this massive wing that they can fly the center hull in glassy conditions.  Having said that,inidications are that there will be a fair amount of wind Monday, so it may end up being a heavy air race.

I doubt that by the end of the first race there will be a series left.  I expect one boat to dominate – they are just too different for it to be otherwise.  My money is undecided at this point, although the wing would seem to tip it in USA’s favour.

One outcome still quite possible is significant failure of either boat.  These are huge boats, with significant loads and forces.  Dont rule out surprises!

I will be in Valencia tomorrow to check the boats out first hand.  More from the front line!

BMW Oracle pushes a bit

February 4th, 2010 No comments

The boys are seeing how far she can go it would seem.

Huge sail area - not much breeze

Huge sail area - not much breeze

Mammoth Machine

Mammoth Machine

Go boys go!

Go boys go!

Jury throws out BMW Oracle’s issues and the race looms closer

February 3rd, 2010 No comments

Here is a press release from Alinghi this morning.  In other cup news, there is a fair amount of local controversy looming over the chemicals being released into the water under the USA boat that reduces the friction and in the process changes the colour of the water.  Despite being “environmentally friendly” it does seem to make rather a mess!

The ISAF appointed International Jury for the America’s Cup ruled early Wednesday morning on the redress brought by the challenger BMW Oracle

Valencia, Spain – (2010-02-03)

Five requests for redress were brought before the International Jury by BMW Oracle in their ongoing litigation ahead of the 33rd America’s Cup which is scheduled to start on 8 February. The five-member Jury issued a decision in the early hours of Wednesday morning stating that the America’s Cup organising authority (OA), Société Nautique de Genève (SNG), is correct in setting a start time for the race at 10:06. There is no Deed of Gift requirement for the start time to be agreed with the challenger as the OA has the responsibility to set the start time.

The Jury also ruled that the Deed of Gift shall prevail over any other conflicting rule and the SNG will amend the Notice of Race (NOR) and Sailing Instructions (SI) to further reinforce this. In another decision, the Jury confirmed that SNG’s race committee will be responsible for determining whether to start or continue a race and in doing so has the obligation to comply with applicable safety and legal obligations. This will be reflected in the Notice of Race (NOR).

While the challenger’s request for redress regarding their intention to dump substances in the sea while racing was denied, the Jury reinforced the fact that all applicable laws must apply to any discharge while racing. The competing parties mutually agreed to modify the rules regarding detection equipment at the challenger’s request.

“We welcome the Jury’s involvement and decisions for the sport. We are confident racing will go ahead as scheduled on Monday – weather permitting – and we are looking forward to finally getting this competition on the water,” said Alinghi team skipper and tactician Brad Butterworth.

New York Supreme Court confirms America’s Cup Match for 8 February

February 1st, 2010 No comments

Justice Kornreich tells teams to go racing; no decision or hearing will take place before the Match

Justice Kornreich of the New York Supreme Court informed the America’s Cup defending yacht club, Société Nautique de Genève, and the challenging Golden Gate Yacht Club today via telephone conference that she will not hear the American challenger’s complaint regarding the ‘constructed in country’ requirement of the Deed of Gift before the 33rd America’s Cup Match which is scheduled to begin on 8 February.

This means the 33rd America’s Cup is free to proceed as ordered by previous New York rulings: in Valencia on the 8, 10 and 12 February.

“This is excellent news. We are delighted that BMW Oracle’s attempts to disqualify Alinghi and to win the America’s Cup in court have been denied. We look forward to meeting them on the start line here in Valencia on 8 February to race for the Cup; something they can no longer try to avoid,” said Ernesto Bertarelli – two-time America’s Cup winner – on hearing the news when returning ashore after today’s race training session.

I’m not altogether clear as to whether this means there could be more arguments after the the race if the Swiss win.

Valencia, 2/1/10 Alinghi in Valencia Alinghi 5 sailing in Valencia George Johns / Alinghi

Valencia, 2/1/10 Alinghi in Valencia Alinghi 5 sailing in Valencia George Johns / Alinghi

Is it just my imagination or do the Americans have a serious lack of forestay tension?  Not that surprising, given the engineering challenges, but it cant help them point much.