Even Bob Fisher, who as a journalist has always loved being an iconoclast is disturbed by the events leading up to the next America’s Cup to be held in Bermuda in 2017. Below are the words he penned for scuttlebutt:
Bob Fisher: Disgracing the America’s Cup
Published on April 11, 2015 |
Bob Fisher knows the America’s Cup, perhaps better than anyone. His books and articles have covered the event since 1851, and he considers the event unmatched in its history and intrigue. But what Bob sees now occurring for the 2017 edition gives him grave concern. Here are his words to the current trustee, Golden Gate Yacht Club…
I cannot escape notice of what you are doing to the America’s Cup – it has been nothing short of a disgrace to the premier event in the sport of Sailing. You have abused it, misused it and reduced it to no more than an average regatta, losing on the way its prestige and at the same time driven away the most serious competitors.
In the last America’s Cup event, held on the waters of the Golden Gate Yacht Club, for whom you act in a management role, the two challengers that came up to the mark were those from the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and the Circolo della Vela Sicilia – Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ) and Luna Rossa. In the course of the past week you have made it virtually impossible for ETNZ to raise the necessary funds to continue by removing any chance of a major regatta in Auckland, and, by a huge change in the size of boat, caused the Italian team to withdraw. Is this what you really want?
Gone is all semblance of stability and adherence to rules unanimously agreed at the outset and in their place an undercurrent of commercial misunderstanding and constantly changing rules without the unanimity of the challengers as initially agreed. Both of these are a disgrace to the Cup and to yourselves.
It was brought to my notice by you, in Auckland, that it was important for a part of the Challenger Final Selection Series to be held in the City of Sails in order to generate publicity for the America’s Cup in Asia and the reason for that was a Japanese team would shortly emerge, and that this would encourage television networks to purchase the rights.
Subsequently, the America’s Cup Event Authority (ACEA) has made it clear that ALL Challenger Selection races will be held in Bermuda, effectively slapping ETNZ in the face and reducing the Kiwis’ chances of Government sponsorship (which hung on a major AC regatta in Auckland), possibly even eliminating this team from AC35
It is unnecessary for the America’s Cup to have a television audience. For many years there was no television coverage, and later only inserts into News programmes. Televising the event began in 1983 and was carried to a new height by ESPN in 1987 in Fremantle. Even then it didn’t need catamarans on hydrofoils sailing at 40 knots to be attractive – just 12-Metre yachts in boisterous conditions with some live sound from the boats.
Now, thanks to the wizardry of Stan Honey and his colleagues, full details of the speed and direction of each of the competitors is overlaid on the live pictures of the racing. The technology of other sports has improved television for even the non-sailor, but this does not drive the America’s Cup. Money does. And there will certainly not be enough from television rights to pay for the somewhat unnecessary regattas that take place using the name of the event that has, over 164 years, taken place only 34 times.
The America’s Cup is a one-off event. It does not need promoting with pseudo regattas in the intervening years, which use its name. The Challenger Selection Trials, together with the long lost Defender Selection Trials, are adequate and the responsibility for their expense is down to the individual teams. Now there is a state of affairs in which the Defender trials have been eliminated. In the Protocol, Item 17 clearly states:
“Defender means GGYC and the sailing team that represents GGYC in AC35;”
You have excluded any chance of another US Yacht Club from competing for the Cup, maybe even giving GGYC the type of competition it needs to retain the Cup. Not even the New York Yacht Club (NYYC) felt sufficiently confident to resort to that.
Neither did the NYYC resort to changing the boats at a late date – the move from the AC-62 to the AC-48 has been very last minute and particularly hard on the teams that had set up their design groups well in advance to produce the smaller AC-62, as announced soon after the last AC match. It is hardly surprising that you have put Patrizio Bertelli’s feelings in disarray to the extent he has withdrawn Luna Rossa from AC35. His team had been working since early January 2014 at its headquarters in Cagliari with a Design Office of 40, all working on the design of a 62-footer. I suppose your comment will be: “Silly him,” but you have lost one of the biggest commercial sponsors of the Cup – just look where the Prada advertisements for Luna Rossa appear.
To throw fat on the fire, you are offering to give design and financial support to the French team, which has made little progress, and what is worse attempting to justify this with the terms of the Deed of Gift, where it indicates that the event is to be: “a friendly competition between foreign nations.” But you may well counter this with the quote from the judge of the New York Court of Appeals in the case between the Mercury Bay Boating Club and San Diego Yacht Club, who queried: “Where in the Deed of Gift does it say the America’s Cup is supposed to be fair?”
The loss of Louis Vuitton, after 30 years, is another huge loss of commercial sponsorship, but the writing for that was on the wall in San Francisco.
Everything this time around has been late, and bringing in new entries at this stage is another breach of the Protocol. I implore you to get your act together, remember the event with which you are dealing, with its glorious past, and begin to act in a proper manner.
Foiling is here to stay. We can never unsee the excitement it evokes.The America’s Cup exposed the world to foiling and anything less will never again be acceptable to the public. This event will be remembered as the defining moment of change in sailing as a sport.
I have predicted before and will state again the 2020 Olympic games will feature at least one foiling class if not two.
Wing Sails are not as new as one might think. The first time I saw one in use was Patient Lady; the “C” class catamaran belonging to Tony Di Mauro in 1978. The technology only improved from there. There should be little question that the genesis of the modern cats with wing sails started here.
Hydropetiere set the new standard. Foils are in. To go fast you must reduce wetted surface. Will SpeedDream work as hoped? No matter what sailing has changed dramatically in my lifetime. And the change has accelerated.
Oracle’s L-foil failure on their AC72’s first day out was no minor snafu. With nearly a two-month build time for the hyper-engineered appendages, their engineers and designers must be freaking out right now trying to understand exactly how and why such an important structure broke. With the foil carrying more than half the weight of the boat in fully foiling conditions, it’s akin to a brand new Formula One car losing its front wheels on the first-ever test lap. Like Artemis’ expensive and time-consuming wing failure and repair, Oracle could be looking at the loss of a ton of development time exactly when they need it most: When the breeze is pumping through the Golden Gate. We’ll see what the spare looks like – it’s very easy to stay posted on the up-to-the-minute action with all the boats here.
ETNZ seems to be getting the most out their Auckland testing with minimal drama, but it’s worth noting that these boats are all just one bad decision away from having a long repair bill, especially when they’re doing 40 knots, 4 feet above the water’s surface, held up by just two tiny blades of carbon. For anyone still wondering if ‘fully foiling’ is nothing but a head fake, we turn to resident C-Class mastermind ‘blunted’ – who’s been down the foiling road before with the C-boat Off Yer Rocker.
Clean speculated once that we built ‘off yer rocker’ as a head fake. Well if it was, it was a really expensive practical joke, on us. Suffice to say it was not intended that way by our team. We were chasing some very “real” benefits on the course. We just did it wrong.
I’ve never really said it publicly till now, ‘cause everyone knows I am “the wing nut” and I get all hot and bothered about wings, but from about 4 seconds after the AC72 rule was cast everyone who was anyone knew the design race would be won in the water with foils, not in the air with wings. You only need to look at a few rudimentary VPP graphs to see the difference between foiling and floating to know that you want to fly as much boat as you can, because the drag goes up so fast in float mode and it goes up a lot slower in foiling mode. The big problem is control, because the Rule does not allow actuated surfaces [like a moth’s flaps –ed] to control ride height you have to figure out how to manage the whole package to keep it on its feet, in a safe enough mode you can put your foot on the pedal.
We went back to traditional in the C for a couple of reasons; the biggest being that it didn’t work in our chosen configuration. I am not convinced the C-cat has enough power to make it work well enough at all, at least for Fredo and I, cause of how we like to sail the boat downhill. The 72’s can unfurl a nice big code zero and that offers a lot of power to get up on the foils efficiently, now the trick is to ride a bike with no handlebars so to speak. Foiling without automatic ride height control really is, “Look ma, no hands!”
My guess is the focus on foiling will be downhill as upwind they may have to trade away too much righting moment to make it worth it. I haven’t seen any real numbers recently so it’s difficult for me to say either way. For righting moment remember that your foil as it kicks in essentially moves the center of floatation of the hull towards the middle of the foil. When 100% up on a foil the boat is rotating around a point between the middle of the upright foil and the horizontal foil, well below and inside the center of actual buoyancy. As such you lose some leverage and therefore lose righting moment so you can apply a bit less power, so the trade off needs to be worth it to go for it.
So yes, my vote is anybody who is serious will be foiling, as soon as they are going downhill.
The roots of modern wing masts rests firmly in the “C” class catamaran. These boats will be in Newport at the end of August. The technology used in the most recent America’s Cup came from what had been learned sailing C cats. Of course the scale changed the physics dramatically.
Paul Larsen a friend will be in newport with a boat and a re-worked wing. click HERE
I should add that this is the same Paul Larsen that has been developing Sailrocket
Finally I have added a clip of the big oracle trimaran, which was truly a remarkable feat.