Tuesday, 17 September 2013

More America's Cup stuff

I may complain about it but the Americas cup is absolutely compelling viewing.  As it proceeds it would appear that the boats are very well matched, something  that has not happened in the AC for a very long time.  And that has resulted in some very exciting close racing.
But to get there, there are very many negatives.  Are the boats really sailing boats?  Certainly not as anybody outside the handful of sailors who design build and operate them would probably agree.  The wing masts have to be removed as soon as the race is over.  Otherwise the entire structure would be simply blown over.
They will never be sailed again.  They will never lead to a racing class using wing masts which even very wealthy yachting enthusiasts might get involved in.  It’s a dead end, a cul de sac.  The rig and the technique reminds me more of some type of kite flying.  These guys have built complicated kites which they hoist up into the air and control very skilfully and skim them across the surface of the water.  Its not sailing, and it will not become sailing.

They use the rules of racing as we know them but have had to modify them.  This is most obvious at the start.  Gone is the hallowed upwind start, the most significant part of sailboat racing since day one.  I’m not sure why, but apparently it has something to do with safety and/ or the fact that these boats can do little unless they are moving on their foils at about a minimum of 20 knots speed.  So if they were trying to tack and jybe in a conventional start they might get blown over!

If money is the deciding factor then Oracle can win.  They have two boats.  NZ have only one.  On the last race with NZ facing winning the cup all Oracle has to do is take her out in a strategic crash.  Both boats go down.  Oracle, with its back up boat, goes on unopposed to win the cup.  I would not put it past Ellison. 

But its compelling viewing with all the professionalism of American sports broadcasting brought to bear on a sport which traditionally is not a spectator sport.

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