Gash In, Part II
The conclusion to Surf City Catamarans‘ interview with multihull legend and BMW/Oracle coach Glenn Ashby:
SA: Speaking of the engineers, I heard you take them sailing on a pair of Wildcat F18s to help them to understand the functions of the boat?
GA:Yeah, I hope to get out there in the next half hour or so actually – I just had a few of the boys show up. We get out once or twice a week to be honest, and they’re loving it. The shore guys are getting out, there are a lot of guys that haven’t done that much sailing on catamarans are having a crack. It’s an absolute godsend having those. We’ve been able to use them a lot and get some guys out on the water that would not necessarily do a lot of sailing that just helps them with the engineering and the design side of things with the big boat.
SA: Engineers, designers, everyone’s sailing them?
GA: Yeah, definitely. It’s just perfect to have them there, and they’re not like an Acat where you have to be a little gentle with the gear and stuff. You can sail them pretty hard, you know, they stand up to capsize and double trap with big guys.
SA: I never thought about getting the design crew on the small cats.
GA: Yeah it’s good. They come back with big grins on their faces. Everyone’s a winner.
SA: Do you think the AC’s very visible multihull excitement will produce more multihull converts?
GA: Yes I believe it will – for sure – open peoples’ eyes to the excitement and speed of multihull sailing at all levels. I can’t wait to see these 2 giant monsters of the sea go head to head and race like dinghies. I have always sailed both catamarans and monohulls and I can appreciate both for what they are. However for those who have not sailed multi-hulls, they don’t realize what they are missing.
SA: Do you think it will help get a multihull back in the Olympics?
GA: I am not sure.
SA: How about the crew. What’s it like to train some of the top monohull sailors on how to adapt to racing a multihull?
GA: It is a great honor for me to have the opportunity to work with and alongside many of the worlds best monohull sailors, many of whom are now mixing it up and beating many of the worlds best multihull sailors. They are keen learners and have the skills to adapt to many different kinds of sailing and racing on many different types of boats. So my job as sailing coach has been very enjoyable thus far and satisfying.
SA: Sounds like they’re fast learners. How quickly and competently are they adjusting to the steep learning curve that this project has placed upon them? What have you been using to teach them about multis?
GA: Most of the guys have taken to multihull sailing extremely well and are all very adaptable to the changing and dynamic circumstances that this cup is shaping up to be. All the guys have been sailing on various smaller multihulls from Aclass and F18, through to Extreme 40’s and Orma 60’s.
SA: How different is it now sailing on possibly the biggest sailing team in the world with large numbers of crew on board. Have you had to change your communications skills at all?
GA: For sure being a people person helps and getting on well with everyone is a bonus. Its not really much different than being part of a successful small team. Good communication is key ,especially on the water, and its always a learning process for everyone which you need to keep in mind always.
SA: Let’s talk tactics. What are the biggest differences in boat handling and tactics between sailing a 90′ cat or tri around a course and how do you foresee the starts?
GA: The starts will be very exciting and most likely different to a standard monohull match race start. The closing speeds of the boats will be very, very high.
SA: Since there will almost certainly be a difference in speed between the two boats, once the boats are off the line, how do you plan and practice race tactics to deal?
That’s a good question for John Kostecki…….
SA: Are there any ‘secret weapons’ in the BMW ORACLE arsenal, and did they surprise you at all when you first learned of them?
GA: No, not really…
SA: You have seen what the BOR 90 has for speed and maneuverability, how do you think it handles and responds in relation to A5?
GA: I think both boats will be very closely matched by the time the event starts. Both boats will have a small speed advantage at some particular times on the course. Which boat will have the advantage and when is anyone’s guess at the moment with the continued development from both teams.
SA: What do you think will be most likely the first thing to break on either boat?
GA: That’s a good question and I am not sure on the answer. Both boats are extreme in their design and construction so I guess there could be a number of reliability issues for both teams. However as time gets closer to the event both boats become more reliable as the testing phase ends and the racing phase begins. Thus the chances for a breakage on either teams boats during racing would be no more than on a maxi monohull.
SA: What sort of loads are you seeing on the tri? Say mainsheet load, runner loads? forestay tension loads?
GA: No comment….
SA: You read in the threads here on SA about the controversial engine. What’s your view on it?
GA: The engine has certainly taken away the human powered element of the Cup which has never been seen before in the history of the event which I think is sad. In my mind it has certainly taken away from the sporting aspect and athleticism that attract the sailors to the event. There is no doubt that the boats are easier to sail with an engine doing all the hard work and trimming the sails becomes easier. However I am not in favor of the engine over human power for the Cup.
SA: As you said, these boats are pretty extreme in their design. How much real sensation do you feel on USA and, for example, do you have to hang onto fittings when she accelerates?
GA: The sensation on the big boat is quite different to sailing a small boat. I liken it to accelerating fast in a racing truck compared to a racing go cart. The top speed is much higher in the truck but the speed sensation is much more real and in your face lower to the ground and being smaller. In other words sailing downwind on an F18 standing on the transom doing 25 kts compared to nearly double speed on the big boat feels faster and more on the edge to me. However in saying that, the horse power and acceleration of the big boat is most impressive and hard to explain. A bit like a lightweight flying aircraft carrier…
SA: With all that power do you still have the helm and boat response that you find in the smaller cats?
GA: The helm is very similar to smaller cats and the boat is amazingly responsive for its size. Like all high performance multi-hulls, you can throw them around. However being smooth and having good anticipation is the key to maintaining top performance.
SA: BOR90 has many different foil configurations from straight canted boards to c-boards and now what looks like j-boards, what are the different aspects and performances between these?
GA: Well, they all work and have their preferred conditions. I am not an expert in this area but feel like it will be like selecting the right fin for your sailboard on a good wave sailing day….
SA: You’re really into this board sailing thing these days.
SA: To stay on task here, what legs or roundings do you expect to be the most challenging or potentially dangerous, how about windward mark roundings bearing off in a sizable breeze?
GA: Unless it is over 25kts I don’t think any roundings will be too bad. The big boats go round corners a bit easier than a moth or 49er as far as stability goes.
SA: Has anyone soiled themselves on a ‘big boys’ bearaway?
GA: Not sure about the change of underwear, but you do need to hang on at times. The g forces get up there for sure but as the boat is so big the sensation is much less scary than trying to bear away an Extreme 40 for example in 25kts.
SA: Right on Glenn, thanks for taking time out of your schedule and hashing a few questions with me. Always good to talk with you and if you make your way up here, stop by the shop.
GA: No worries, mate.