By Len Bose
September 26, 2013 | 6:01 p.m.
I am still sitting on the edge of my seat after watching the 34th America's Cup this past week. If you recall my article from two weeks ago, I was ready to shoot the dog.
To quote Oracle Team USA skipper Jimmy Spithill after going down 1-8, "It's not over. It's a long way from being over."
After hearing these words, Team USA never looked back, and the shore team stepped up. Each time the boats went in early, because of weather conditions being too light or too heavy, Team USA would return to the race course with an increase of boat speed.
At the final press conference and on the Thursday morning shows, the question repeatedly asked was some form of, "What was the change to the boat that gave you such a speed advantage?" Spithill's canned response was, "We made a lot of little changes, and the shore team has been working nonstop. We even set up bunks for them in the boat shed."
Russell Coutts, Team USA's chief executive and an engineer by education, was quoted in a story written by Christopher Clarey of the New York Times as saying: "The major changes in my view were the balance of the boat, where obviously the load sharing between the foils is critical, so we adjusted that quite a lot.
"We changed that loading by manipulating the wing shapes and flaps. So we didn't actually change anything in a physical sense. We just changed the setting, so we more bottom-loaded the wing and more off-loaded that, and that created a different loading for the foils. And that was probably the biggest change we made.
"And then there were a bunch of little changes that just reduced the drag a few kilos here and a few kilograms there, and all the sudden you have an edge."
That edge created boat speed, and boat speed will make any sailor look good.
Some final thoughts: Team USA's replaced tactician, John Kostecki, is the best sailor in the game and, in my opinion, did not receive enough credit for the win. Expect John to be a CEO of a leading contender in the next Cup.
The Cup needs to stay in the Bay Area, but Larry Ellison drives a hard bargain. I would expect an offer to host AC 35 from Long Island, and Larry will come up with a very viable Hawaiian concept using his island, Lanai. The boats will remain catamarans somewhere in the 55-foot size range and will use a type of soft sail to replace the wing. This should substantially reduce the cost of competing in the America's Cup, which, we all hope, will increase participants.
I can hardly wait; it's only going to get better under the continued direction of Coutts.
|Diane & Bill Menninger|
Speaking of the next big sailboat race, one need only look out the window. This weekend is the Harbor 20 Fleet 1 Championship, sailed out of the Newport Harbor Yacht Club. Seventeen boats have signed up for A fleet. The favorites are four-time champions Diane and Bill Menninger sailing their boat, Dart.
They will need to keep their eyes open for Elizabeth and Jim Buckingham aboard BuckShot and Tim Hogan and John Cotton. Another team that has shown that edge is Jeff Gordon and Reid Vittarelli sailing Tres Unos. Bob Yates and Phil Thompson aboard Jubilee have also been sailing very consistently. The only chance I have is if I can figure out how to make a H20 hydrofoil upwind.
Sixteen boats will be sailing in B fleet. The heat is Christophe and Chris Killian aboard Sailing Tiger. They will need to keep an eye on Nik Froehlich and John Fuller sailing Wiggit. Rolly Pulaski and Annie Donat are not going to be out there just for fun and will be biting at their heels. One cannot overlook the boat speed that Jessica and Greg Newman had last year.
At this time, five boats are signed up in C fleet, and I am pulling for Roxanne Chan to take the win.
I need to take the video game controller from my shore crew's hand and go work on our boat speed.
LEN BOSE is an experienced boater, yacht broker and boating columnist.
|Andrew & Len Bose|