mix and match

mix and match

By now you all know that BMW/Oracle have released two ‘design concepts’ boiled down from a much bigger pool that represents the baseline possiblities for the 34th America’s Cup design (and kudos to the team for starting the information flow to the fans). The monohull concept is a big canting keel mono with engine power, a basic if distasteful necessity if you are to get the kind of fast-maneuvering excitement and righting moment you need for high-speed thrills in a lead-assisted yacht.  The other is of course a multihull, in this case a 70-foot catamaran with a hard sail that guarantees some serious edge-of-your-seat kind of shit in the expected Cup locale of San Francisco Bay.

While we are not fans of engine power for the Cup (we’ll reserve judgement on the concepts as more facts bubble to the surface), you folks can certainly vote for your own preference, but there are a few things you might want to check out before you do.  If you have experience with match racing either catamarans or canting keelers, pop into the box rule thread and let ’em be known.

Research Item 1

From Randy Reynolds, developer of the beach-cat-on-steroids R-33 Catamaran, on the common myth that catamaran match racing is boring:

We were (and still are) match racing multihulls here in Long Beach on a regular basis. Last year, hired by Pete Melvin of MM Design, Reynolds Design was contracted (two identical R33’s Turbo’s with crew) to race against and race with, the match racing champs that Pete put together to help the BMW Oracle Team…the racing was very close and exciting.

The starts were so exciting we had bow-sprites going over the heads of the afterguard of the other boat and very fast tacking and jibing at high speeds that broke rudders on the first day. We learned that match racing multihulls requires overly strong rudders because you would be doing 18 knots then slam the rudder over to avoid or get position on your opponent. We reinforced the rudders and solved the problem the next day but no doubt BMW Oracle learned much about the incredible loads that are generated in pre-start match racing maneuvers in large fast multihulls.

The weather legs were always close with the downwind legs even closer, with passing the lead boat not a hard task. After the first day we re-wrote the match racing books and created new ones for multihulls after we proved there is no safe position due to the acceleration of the R33’s in 15 knots of wind. We raced over 20 races and all were very close with one boat usually only 10 seconds ahead of the other boat in a 20 minute windward / leeward course.

There is no doubt in my mind that match racing in multihulls could be very successful as long as the course was correct. In this years AC you had a 20 mile weather leg with boats only being 27 seconds apart. If they could have agreed to a best 5 out of 9 series on a 2-3 mile course like the 32nd AC, the racing would have been very exciting with lead changes, close contacts and overall a more exciting venue. Add to the element more wind like you have in SF (14 knots to 25 knots) then you will really have some action!

Research Item 2

We might get some insight into match racing big monos on unconventional courses when BMW/Oracle and Team Origin square off this summer in a historic recreation of the race that began the America’s Cup from August 3rd to the 6th.  Ben Ainslie and Jimmy Spithill will square off in a match racing series, then on to the 1851 re-match around the Isle of Wight.  We learned yesterday that live video is planned as well, and the whole shebang will be a nice pumpup to the always-huge Cowes Week.  Can’t get enough of the heavyweights?  Feast on ’em with a British backdrop in just a few weeks.

Research Item 3

We’re pretty proud of this live Cocktail Hour that Clean and crew hosted in Valencia with some of the foremost multihull experts in the world.  It’s definitely a long one, but it’s a spectacular inside look at what it will take for multihull match racing to gain acceptance, and where the obstacles lie.  Check out Genny Tulloch, Mitch Booth, Goran Marstrom, Peter Harken, John Casey, and Mitch Booth’s insights over a few chilled Pacificos here at On-The-Water Anarchy’s archived link.