Thursday, February 16, 2017


Contrary to many I don't see anything wrong with the America's cup to be raced on flying cats, even if I had some doubts in what regards it being raced on sheltered waters and on controllable limited conditions, but those doubts, not to say disagreement, were even more present when they were raced on the last monohulls class, that could not sail with more than 15k wind, or about it.

Last edition I hated to see the NZ team  be beaten by Oracle, not because Oracle was American, but because they had managed that using some kind of mechanical/electronic gadget, that they introduced in the middle of the races, when they were losing for the NZ team, that helped them to control the boat better and that gave them an unfair advantage over the other team. They had lost all races till they started using the gadget, they won all after that.

The gadget was considered legal, even if I have some doubts about that, but none regarding the principles that use or the unfairness of making victory depending on gadgets that come in between the sailor and the hydrodynamic sail/boat controls.

Sailing is one of the mechanized sports where the relation between man and nature is more present. The body that regulates sailing sport had forbidden the use of engines to power sail systems to maintain that relation as simple as possible and it should forbid, for the same reason, the use of electronic/mechanical devices that help boat control, otherwise in some few years top sail racers like the AC racers, will be only controllable through a computer and the one with the best computer/program will be the winner.

Do you think I am exaggerating? Do you know that an interceptor fighter airplane can only fly with a flight computer/program that is in between human commands and airplane aerodynamic controls? That those interfaces are extensively used on comercial airplanes? 

Nothing wrong with that or the use of those type of computer managed commands on a sailboat, providing that they are not used on sailing sport, otherwise we will not be measuring sailing skill, neither boat/sail performance, but mostly the quality of the electronic management of a sailboat, if we want, how a sailboat is sailed by a robot. That's what we want for the sailing sport? Do you think that it is far from happening?Well....

"The 50-page design guidelines demand every boat be identical, save a few key elements, including the hydrofoil shape and control systems. So that’s where Airbus engineers focused their aerodynamics expertise. “What is amazing for an aeronautical engineer like me is that the technology used to design these flying boats is very similar to the ones we’re using to develop and test aircraft,” says Pierre Marie Belleau, Airbus’ head of business development....

....The defending champions, not wanting to leave anything to chance, also worked with BMW to integrate a steering system derived from touring car racing. Applying the semi-automated systems designed for automotive applications, the engineers made a yacht that responds to a turn of the wheel nearly instantaneously—instead of taking two seconds...

Aaron Perry, Oracle Team USA designer says..."You just have this little hokey stick foil section cutting through the water...the boats are completing practice races without coming off the foils, the hulls are now almost irrelevant.”

What will control that little hockey stick in real time, adjusting it in milliseconds to each new sea/sail configuration, keeping the boat steady and flying, will be what will make a boat win. That was what that gadget used by Oracle on the last edition has done and I bet that it was just the start. Humans don't react in milliseconds, computers do. That's what we want for the future of sail racing?

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