• [Article 8224]CRIME AND PUNISHMENT?

    BY BERNIE WILSON, Associated Press
    Americas Cup Suspension SailingFILE – In this Feb. 11, 2010 file photo, BMW Oracle Racing wing sail trimmer Dirk de Ridder from The Netherlands, attends a press conference in Valencia’s, Spain. Dirk de Ridder is suspended for five years by sailing’s governing body, the AP is told. He was part of the Oracle Team USA crew and disqualified from the 2013 America’s Cup for illegally altering boats in warmup regattas. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza, File)

    SAN DIEGO (AP) — America’s Cup sailor Dirk de Ridder has been suspended from sanctioned events for five years by sailing’s international governing body, two people with knowledge of the decision said Tuesday.

    The people spoke with The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the suspension is being appealed.

    Unless a review board or the Court of Arbitration for Sport overturns the suspension, it effectively ends de Ridder’s sailing career. Not only is the 41-year-old de Ridder banned from the 2017 America’s Cup, but he’s unable to accept a $500,000 contract to sail in the Volvo Ocean Race, which begins later this year.

    Word of the suspension came less than a week after two New Zealand attorneys criticized the international jury that punished members of America’s Cup champion Oracle Team USA, including de Ridder, after investigating the illegal modification of boats used in warmup regattas.

    De Ridder said via email from his home in the Netherlands that he couldn’t comment on his case. He was banished from the 2013 America’s Cup and Oracle Team USA was docked two points by the international jury four days before the opening races of the regatta in September on San Francisco Bay. Oracle twice trailed Emirates Team New Zealand by seven points before staging one of the greatest comebacks in sports by winning the final eight races to retain the Auld Mug.

    Jerome Pels, secretary general of the International Sailing Federation (ISAF), said via email that he couldn’t comment on either de Ridder’s case or on the report that was issued last week on behalf of Yachting New Zealand, in which two independent attorneys criticized the America’s Cup International Jury for “significant” procedural shortcomings and raised numerous concerns about evidence and the jury’s reasoning.

    In that report, which was based on transcripts of the jury’s investigation last summer, the attorneys said two Kiwis on Oracle Team USA — grinder Matt Mitchell and shore crew member Andrew Walker — shouldn’t face further discipline by Yachting New Zealand. The international jury had barred Mitchell from the first four races of the America’s Cup match and expelled Walker.

    Likewise, de Ridder had been cleared of further punishment by his national governing body before the ISAF Disciplinary Commission issued the five-year suspension.

    Russell Coutts, CEO of Oracle Team USA, declined comment on de Ridder’s case.

    However, Coutts said on his Facebook page last week that “The ISAF jury appeared to be on a crusade to ‘save the America’s Cup’ and I believe they may have allowed that belief to cloud their judgment.”

    Paul Henderson, a former ISAF president and former International Olympic Committee member, told the AP by phone from his Toronto home on Tuesday that he’d never heard of such a harsh penalty, and that the case raises serious questions of whether de Ridder and others received due process.

    “If you’re Ben Johnson and you won a gold medal and then got caught doping and were only banned for two years, and A-Rod is only out for a year, and then there’s somebody that it’s questionable whether he had anything to do with it, I don’t understand,” Henderson said.

    Henderson said the New Zealand attorneys wrote “an excellent report. You read it and say, ‘Oooh. I’m not sure due process was done.”

    Henderson said de Ridder’s case needs to be heard by the CAS.

    On Aug. 27, after the America’s Cup International Jury had begun its hearing, the ISAF Disciplinary Commission approved rules of procedure that, among other things, allowed hearsay evidence.

    Henderson said another problem is that the jury “has become a very incestuous group.” Some of the members of the America’s Cup International Jury are included in pools used to form review boards and disciplinary commissions. “It’s a lot of conflict,” Henderson said.

    Pels said in an email that no one would sit on a panel if they were involved in an original decision.

    Besides raising questions about the jury’s procedures, the two New Zealand attorneys wrote that they were “troubled” that the jury didn’t include an allegation of gross misconduct against Oracle’s Simeon Tienpont, who, according to the report, signed an interview record sheet stating that he helped Mitchell modify a 45-foot catamaran that was skippered by British sailing star Ben Ainslie, who was a key member of Oracle’s sailing team.

    Tienpont sailed in the America’s Cup.

    Coincidentally, Ainslie is Pels’ brother-in-law. In 2012, ISAF declined to further punish Ainslie after he grappled with a TV cameraman during the 2011 world championships and was disqualified from two races. That allowed Ainslie to sail in the Olympics, where he won his fourth straight gold medal and fifth games medal overall.



  • [Article 8222]SMALLER, FASTER, SAFER, THE NEXT AMERICA’S CUP BOATS

    AC34SFJuneD16_1234

    The New America’s Cup Cat

    The next generation will look much like this 2013 generation challenger from New Zealand, but they’re a new breed

    By Kimball Livingston Posted April 13, 2014

    Gino Morrelli believes the next generation of America’s Cup catamarans will revolutionize upwind tactics. He foresees the boats foiling through tacks without slowing down, and if there is no price for tacking, that’s a new calculus, isn’t it? A new game.

    Smaller, faster, safer. It’s quite a package that Morrelli is talking about, and he knows a bit. His firm of Morrelli & Melvin wrote the design rule for what we will call, for now, the AC62. That is, ten feet shorter than the AC72s of 2013 and shrunk appropriately in other dimensions as well. Add-in some one-design components, factor-in the fact that a lot of the design possibilities have already been explored—we know what the next generation will look like—and you have a boat that is cheaper to design and cheaper to build, even with amped-up technology. His partner Pete Melvin has been hard on the case.

    At which point Morrelli adds the ultimate qualifier, “We can lower the cost to entry, but we can’t make it cheaper to win the America’s Cup.”

    Write this on the board twenty-five times: An America’s Cup team will always spend whatever it can get.

    I shared billing with Gino over the weekend for a program at Strictly Sail Pacific, which opened my window onto what’s coming next, with a little caution tape on the windowsill: “We finished our job about four weeks ago,” Morrelli told the audience. “In our last iteration, the boat was 62 feet, but now we’ve handed it over to Oracle and Russell and the boys to fuss it out with the Challenger of Record and Iain Murray. That is, the Aussies from Hamilton Island Yacht Club. Between them, a lot can happen. We’re now out of the loop, but something’s cooking . . . At some point they have to pull the trigger and publish the design rule and let people start working on the new boats, even if they don’t decide the venue until deep in the process.”

    How can you design the boat if you don’t know the venue? Or if, as Larry Ellison once suggested, there could be more than one venue? Good question. Here we go—

    Gino again: “One thing that was possible under the AC72 rule, but now is mandated, is a wing design that can be over-rotated to a negative angle of attack. You would do this at the top of the wing, so that instead of pushing the boat over, it’s actually pulling the boat up. Theoretically, if you’re bearing away around the weather mark in 30 knots, you can crank the wing inside out to get positive righting moment. You get a safer turn. The downside is that you’re inducing drag, which slows you down, so you’re going to have to learn how to actually do this. But it’s one way to build a big rig that will perform in San Diego but survive San Francisco.

    “There are provisions in the new class rule to allow different wing sizes and jib sizes, but the ability to over-rotate the wing gives us a tool for sailing in a wide wind range with one wing.”

    Early in the development of the original design rule for the AC72s, there were no restrictions on foiling surfaces. Restrictions were added at the insistence of the then-Challenger of Record, but we know now that the result was merely to make the boats trickier to design and less safe for the sailors.

    This time out, Gino says, “We’ve got everybody to agree to take the brakes off foiling. The boats will foil by design. We’ll be able to actively change the angle of the rudder posts to adjust the angle of attack of the T-foils on the rudders—in 2013 we could make changes between races, not during a race—and the T-foils will be symmetrical, and bigger. This is part of what brings us to foiling tacks. You’ll have more chance to use low angles of attack to give you the highest glide speed through the tack. We’ll see who can glide to weather the farthest.”

    This likewise opens new imaginings in what it means to attack, attack, attack.

    On the safety side, there is now a minimum bow volume, for buoyancy if the boat augurs in. “New Zealand had the biggest bows in the fleet in 2014,” Gino said. “They stuffed it in that one race and survived. After the fact we sat down with the Oracle Racing guys to analyze the video of that incident, and we determined that, if Oracle had done the same thing, they would have been upside down. So, the new bow dimensions are much closer to the NZ spec than to the Oracle spec.”

     

    Photo by Daniel Forster

    Photo by Daniel Forster

    You might recall, ETNZ took that serious nose dive in an early race, and Oracle did this less-radical face plant on the reach to the first mark in the deciding, final race, which could have come out rather differently. As seen through the lens of Daniel Forster . . .

     

    With hulls now functioning as components of a foil-delivery system, the extra bow volume builds a safety margin with no meaningful downside. A little more carbon, a little more weight, a little more windage, but equalized through the fleet. Where Oracle had a safety advantage over the Emirates Team New Zealand boat was in its protective cockpits. When ETNZ stuffed it, bodies were flung forward against each other—there weren’t enough grab points—and as the boat sailed on, there were fewer crew on deck. The “AC62? mandates cockpits.

    For an easy point of cost saving, “That crazy aerodynamic structure on the underside of Oracle, fairing-in the dolphin striker, will be restricted. It represented a lot of research, a lot of engineering and a lot of carbon. By going one-design on those components, we’re saving the teams a lot of development, so now we get calls from the CFD [Computational Fluid Dynamics] engineers saying, ‘Hey, what about our lunch?’ Then there’s the grinders union . . .”

    The big picture view of the 2013 America’s Cup is that Oracle Racing built a faster boat—more aerodynamic, twistier, harder to sail—and learned how to sail it just in time. Mastering upwind foiling was the key, and one key to that was grinding style. You probably know the old joke, “You just keep grinding and if I need any sheet I’ll take it.” Well, launching the comeback, that’s exactly what was going on aboard Oracle. Trimmer Kyle Langford needed instant response to keep the boat on knife’s edge. Asking the boys to pump oil to generate hydraulic pressure for trimming built in a delay that just didn’t cut it. So the grinders would grind all the way. No stored energy was allowed under the AC72 rule, but the new rule as written by Morrelli & Melvin, in consultation with Oracle Racing’s Russell Coutts and Ian Burns, for example, will permit a component of stored energy. The grinders may still be grinding steadily, but not frantically. At least, according to the numbers. As one result, the crew has been reduced to the tune of two grinders. That’s two less jobs on the payroll per boat, and two less jobs per boat in the America’s Cup Industry.

    Gino Morrelli has a laid back Southern California style, and he comes by it honestly. The whole team at Morrelli & Melvin Design and Engineering has been known to shove work and hit the beach when the surf is up. Morrelli describes himself as, “A longboard kind of guy.” It’s not far from their Newport Beach offices to the sand. Obviously, they also crank out the work. M&M also developed the design rule for the AC72s, and they were the principal authors of the design of Emirates Team New Zealand. They’ve been part of the America’s Cup every time multihulls have been in the game: 1988, 2010 and on. They’re also part of cutting edge multihull racing at every level from A-cats up, and cruising cats from the Hobie Wave to Gunboats. And when I want to impress the nieces and nephews, I just tell’em, yep, I know the folks who designed the Jungle Cruise boats for Disneyland. Those are their only monohulls, I believe, unless you count stand up paddleboards.

    Gino

    The Q&A rambled a bit. Naturally, a Bay Area audience wanted to know if the 2017 match will be sailed here. I voiced my stubborn optimism that it will, simply because that’s what ought to happen.

    Someone asked why Artemis Racing still has its base in Alameda, and their 45 is sometimes seen on the bay. Gino responded that, well, everybody has to be someplace, “and I think they’re betting that the next races will be here.”

    Another circuit in AC45s? Here’s Gino: “The 45s attract a lot of interest from the start-up teams. It’s a way to bring in sponsors and show the racing to a home audience. On the upside, it’s pretty easy to convert an AC45 to a foiler. On the downside, the logistics are completely nuts. The circuit was a giant loss leader. No way could it stand on its own. Larry wrote the check for the whole show the last time, but I don’t know how interested he might be in helping those start-up teams get a foothold. He’s already spent so many hundreds of millions on this. I figure the AC45s are a tier 3 decision right now.”

    What’s the status of Morrelli & Melvin vis a vis AC35? “We’re free agents again. We’ve been contacted by a number of the guys, but everybody’s waiting for the Class Rule and the Protocol.”

    More challengers next time? “Sixish. The Aussies are in, and Artemis. Luna Rossa. Probably the Kiwis, and the French are trying hard and so is Britain, with Ben Ainslie. The design box is tighter and smaller, but I guarantee you there’s enough room inside the box that someone’s going to come up with a faster boat than somebody else.”



  • [Article 8209]MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE

    MY MESSAGE
    MY MESSAGE

    I had my own experience with a message in a bottle. I find it is a rather profound event in life representative of so many thoughts and feelings.

     

    THE REPLY
    THE REPLY

    101-year-old bottle message: Baltic find reveals my roots, says granddaughter

    Berlin resident Angela Erdmann speaks of unknown grandfather who threw bottle but died six years before she was born
    Richard Platz's message

    Richard Platz’s message, which he threw into the sea in 1913, when he was 20 years old. Photograph: Uwe Paesler/EPA

    Angela Erdmann never knew her grandfather. He died in 1946, six years before she was born. But on Tuesday she described the extraordinary moment when she received a message in a bottle 101 years after he had lobbed it into the Baltic Sea.

    Thought to be the world’s oldest message in a bottle, it was presented to Erdmann by the museum that is now exhibiting it in Germany.

    “It was very surprising,” Erdmann, 62, said, recalling how she found out about the bottle. “A man stood in front of my door and told me he had post from my grandfather. He then told me that a message in a bottle was found and that the name that was on the card was that of my grandfather.”

    Her visitor was a genealogical researcher who had managed to track her down in Berlin after the letter was given to the International Maritime Museum in the northern port city of Hamburg.

    The brown beer bottle, which had been in the water for 101 years, was found in the catch of Konrad Fischer, a fisherman, who had been out in the Baltic Sea off the northern city of Kiel last month.

    Holger von Neuhoff, curator for ocean and science at the museum said this bottled message was the oldest he had come across. “There are documents that have been found without the bottle that are older and are in the museum,” he said. “But with the bottle and the document, this is certainly the oldest at the moment. It is in extremely good condition.”

    Researchers believe Erdmann’s grandfather, Richard Platz, threw the bottle in the sea while on a hike with a nature appreciation group in 1913. He was 20 years old at the time.

    Much of the postcard was indecipherable, although the address in Berlin on the front of the card was legible, as was the author’s polite request that the note be sent by the finder to his home address.

    “He also included two stamps from that time that were also in the bottle, so the finder would not incur a cost,” Erdmann said. “But he had not thought it would take 101 years.”

    She said she was moved by the arrival of the message, although she had not known her grandfather because he died, at the age of 54, six years before she was born.

    “I knew very little about my grandfather, but I found out that he was a writer who was very open minded, believed in freedom and that everyone should respect each other,” she said. “He did a lot for the young and later travelled with his wife and two daughters. It was wonderful because I could see where my roots came from.”

    Like her grandfather, Erdmann said, she also liked culture and travelling around the world. She described herself as open minded, too. “What he taught his two daughters, my mother taught me and I have then given to my sons,” she said.

    Despite her joy at receiving the bottled message, she said, however, that she hoped others would not repeat what her grandfather had done and throw bottles with messages into the sea. “Today the sea is so full of so many bottles and rubbish, that more shouldn’t be thrown in there,” she said.

    The message and the bottle will be on display at Hamburg’s maritime museum until the beginning of May after which experts will attempt to decipher the rest of the text. It is not clear what will then happen to the bottle, but Erdmann hopes it will stay at the museum.

    “We want to make a few photos available to put with the bottle and give it a face, so visitors can see the young man who threw the bottle into the water,” she said.