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The future is foiling

Posted on 17 September 2014 by Ivan Bidzilya

[Source: America's Cup] AC45s to be modified; America’s Cup World Series to continue into 2018.

The six America’s Cup teams have agreed to a project that will see the existing fleet of AC45 catamarans modified into fully foiling catamarans for racing in the America’s Cup World Series (ACWS).

Importantly, the teams have also committed to continue to race the foiling AC45s on the America’s Cup World Series circuit in 2018, following the conclusion of the 35th America’s Cup in 2017.

“I’m pleased all of the competitors have agreed on a way forward, beyond the current America’s Cup cycle,” said Harvey Schiller, the Commercial Commissioner for the 35th America’s Cup.

“To have the teams give certainty to all stakeholders as to what will happen following the racing in 2017, regardless of who wins, is a huge step forward for all involved.”

The teams have undertaken the project to modify the one-design AC45s into fully foiling catamarans with a view to racing the foiling versions as early as the 2015 ACWS season.

A feasibility study has been commissioned to determine whether the mods will need to wait until the 2016 season as the timeline to make changes to the entire fleet ahead of racing in 2015 is extremely tight.

The competitors have also appointed a working group to select a Regatta Director, as required by the Protocol.

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Luna Rossa resumes its training with two AC45 boats

Posted on 14 September 2014 by Ivan Bidzilya

[Source: Luna Rossa Challenge] After Luna Rossa Piranha, who has been sailing since July 1st, today Luna Rossa Swordfish – the second AC45 with which the team is developing its design and training for the 35th America’s Cup – also started sailing again in Cagliari.

The Protocol of the 35th America’s Cup in fact allows the modification of any component of the AC45 catamarans – used in past editions of the America’s Cup World Series – except for the shape of the hulls.

During this first phase the modifications focused essentially on the optimization of the appendages – daggerboards and rudders – and on-board systems that allow the AC45 catamarans to fully foil. These “new” catamarans are capable of greatly increased performances and can simulate the sailing conditions of the AC62 catamarans (“full foiling” with a 30-meter wing) that will be used in the 35th America’s Cup.

Luna Rossa Piranha and Luna Rossa Swordfish have thus become real test laboratories for components, systems, data collection and analysis, as well as the ideal platforms to train the crew in manoeuvers, boat handling and foiling tactics and techniques.

Max Sirena, skipper of Luna Rossa, said: “This is an important day for the team: sailing with two boats offers a significant advantage not only for performance comparison but from all points of view. We participated in the last America’s Cup to set the basis for our 35th America’s Cup and now we can count on a solid team and a close collaboration between designers, sailing team and shore team. There is a constant exchange of information between these areas to address the design and optimize its applications.”

Training on the water with the two AC45s began this morning with a northwest wind ranging from 7 to 12 knots that allowed both boats to sail immediately in a full-foiling configuration.

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America’s Cup: London media conference full replay

Posted on 09 September 2014 by Ivan Bidzilya

[Source: Sail-World NZ] In fact of the expected hour of coverage, the broadcast did not start until 17 minutes before the end. 

Six skippers fronted the media group and others. Jimmy Spithill represented the Defender, Oracle Team USA. the five Challengers on stage were Max Sirena (Luna Rossa), Dean Barker (Emirates Team NZ), Franck Cammas (Team France), Ben Ainslie (Ben Ainslie Racing), and Nathan Outteridge (Artemis racing).

35th America's Cup, Skippers presentation press conference, London (UK), 09 Sept. 2014. ACEA/Gilles MARTIN-RAGET

35th America’s Cup, Skippers presentation press conference, London (UK), 09 Sept. 2014. ACEA/Gilles MARTIN-RAGET



Media interest in the event seemed to be muted with questions being extracted with difficulty from the assembled media audience. 

Instead it was left to MC Peter Rusch to fudge his way through session, held at St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, and ask many of the questions of the six skippers. 



Despite the very impressive group of sailing talent on stage, the teams appeared to lack focus due too the uncertainties surrounding the event, and from what was seen online, the event failed to to deliver on the key questions. 

Only real point of interest from the very limited online broadcast was the new Challenger of Record, Luna Rossa, responding to a question as to who the new Challenger of Record would be. 

Oracle Team USA’s Jimmy Spithill, ducked the question, deferring to Luna Rossa Skipper Max Sirena, who in turn would not confirm that his team was Challenger of Record, being the next Challenger after Team Australia withdrew in late July. 

Instead Sirena said that the Challengers were instead trying to form a Challenger of Record Committee to work with the Defender on aspects of the America’s Cup organization to make a better event. 

The teams had been advised of the formal appointment of Luna Rossa (or more properly their yacht club) as CoR a couple of weeks ago by letter from the America’s Cup events Authority. 

The CORC concept is not new and was run in the 1992 and 1995 America’s Cups in San Diego and was successful largely due to the efforts of the late Ernie Taylor (AUS). Certainly it shifted the organizational distraction from the Club and Team involved. 

Held a year after the conclusion of the 34th Match, there appeared to have been little organisational progress made.

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America’s Cup appoints Dr.Harvey Schiller appointed as commercial commissioner

Posted on 29 August 2014 by Ivan Bidzilya

[Source: America's Cup] The America’s Cup organizers have appointed Dr. Harvey Schiller as Commercial Commissioner for the 35th America’s Cup. The role of Commercial Commissioner is new to the America’s Cup. Dr. Schiller will be responsible for supervising, managing and protecting the commercial interests of the America’s Cup. He will work closely with all of the competitors, the Regatta Director and the America’s Cup Event Authority.

“This is an exciting time to be involved in the America’s Cup,” Dr. Schiller said. “Following the thrilling event we saw last summer, when ORACLE TEAM USA came from behind to win the Cup, interest in the event is as high as it’s ever been. Our job now is to translate those opportunities into growth of the event for the benefit of all participants. As such, I’m extremely gratified to see how the teams have started working together with such a high level of cooperation over the past few months.”

Schiller has had one of the most legendary careers in public service and sports business, having served as Commissioner of the Southeastern Conference, the Executive Director of the US Olympic Committee and President of Turner Sports as well as Chairman and CEO of YankeeNets and President of the International Baseball Federation.

His personal accomplishments away from sport include a Distinguished Flying Cross for his service in the United States Air Force (where he retired as Brigadier General), and a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Michigan. He also currently serves on the board of the World Baseball Classic and the Baseball Hall of Fame. Dr. Schiller has also served on the America’s Cup Advisory Board since 2010.

Dr. Schiller starts the role with immediate effect. Items on the to-do list include finalizing the America’s Cup World Series schedule, format and venues, and securing international broadcast agreements.

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British Challenge accepted for the 35th America’s Cup

Posted on 21 August 2014 by Ivan Bidzilya

[Source: Royal Yacht Squadron Racing] Royal Yacht Squadron Racing (RYSR) has had its challenge accepted by the America’s Cup defender, the Golden Gate Yacht Club of San Francisco. RYSR is the affiliate club of the Royal Yacht Squadron and the challenging club for Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR), now the official British entry for the 35th America’s Cup in 2017.

Signing of the America's Cup Notice of Challenge. Photo credit Jessica Dobbs

The Golden Gate Yacht Club (GGYC), having won the 34th America’s Cup, holds the America’s Cup in accordance with the terms of a Deed of Gift dated 24 October 1887 and will be hosting the event in three years’ time, although the location is yet to be confirmed, being either San Diego or Bermuda.

RYSR submitted its Notice of Challenge to the GGYC during the two-month open entry period which closed on Friday 8th August. The entry has now been formally accepted.

Each team that challenges for the America’s Cup is required to do so through a host club.  The America’s Cup started its long history at the Royal Yacht Squadron when the schooner America beat a fleet of British racing yachts to the finish line there on 22 August 1851, watched by Queen Victoria.

“We are delighted that Ben Ainslie Racing, led by Sir Ben, has asked Royal Yacht Squadron Racing to challenge on his behalf and are sure that, if anyone can bring the Cup back to its original home, he and his excellent BAR team can,” commented Simon van der Byl, CEO of RYSR.

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Five teams to challenge for the 35th America’s Cup

Posted on 21 August 2014 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: America's Cup] Six teams have entered the race for the 35th America’s Cup:

ORACLE TEAM USA (USA), the defending champion
Artemis Racing (SWE)
Ben Ainslie Racing (GBR)
Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL)
Luna Rossa Challenge (ITA)
Team France (FRA)

“It’s exciting to look at the roster of teams who are lining up against us,” said Jimmy Spithill, the skipper of ORACLE TEAM USA, the winner of the last two America’s Cup matches. “We’re facing five strong challengers who have a lot of resources, talent and experience.

“But our team is very competitive. We love challenges – the bigger, the better. It’s very easy to get motivated when you see what we’re going to be facing.”

The 35th America’s Cup begins in 2015 and 2016 with the America’s Cup World Series, raced in venues around the world. This feeds into the main events in 2017, which will narrow the field to just two: the top challenger and the defender, ORACLE TEAM USA, who will then face each other in the America’s Cup Match.

Teams will be given the opportunity to host America’s Cup World Series events at a venue of their choosing, while the final venue for the 35th America’s Cup will be either Bermuda or San Diego, with the selection to be made before the end of the year.

Under the rules of the event, late entries may be accepted at the discretion of the America’s Cup organizers.

Quotes from the challenging teams:

Iain Percy, Artemis Racing: “We are not only in this competition to win the 35th America’s Cup, but to dominate the America’s Cup arena for the next decade. I’m also passionate that Artemis Racing is about more than simply winning; it’s about producing a legacy and winning in a certain way.”

Ben Ainslie, Ben Ainslie Racing: “We are delighted that Royal Yacht Squadron Racing’s challenge for the 35th America’s Cup has been officially accepted. The America’s Cup originates from the Squadron and it is our goal to return the Cup to where it belongs.”

Dean Barker, Emirates Team New Zealand: “New Zealand has a long and proud history in the America’s Cup. We see some formidable opposition taking shape in the 35th America’s Cup and we have no illusions about the job ahead. We have been working quietly behind the scenes towards this day almost since the last day of the 34th America’s Cup. Now the real work begins.”

Max Sirena, Luna Rossa Challenge: “This is Luna Rossa’s fifth challenge to the America’s Cup, an historic record. Not only does it underline the attachment of our team to the America’s Cup, but it also shows our determination to bring the Cup to Italy. This edition will be very competitive and our team has already been preparing for several months now in view of a challenge that promises to be spectacular and exciting right from its preliminary events, the America’s Cup World Series, that will take place next year.”

Franck Cammas, Team France: “Team France is very proud to be a challenger for the 35th America’s Cup. We are taking the first step of a journey that we know will be very difficult. With Olivier de Kersauson, Michel Desjoyeaux and our team, we are determined to represent France at the highest level from a sporting and technological point of view. I thank all of our partners and supporters, as without you, we would not even see the beginning of our journey, much less the road ahead.”

The teams for the 35th America’s Cup will be introduced at a press conference in London, England on September 9.

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Artemis Racing launches its challenge for the 35th America’s Cup

Posted on 19 August 2014 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Artemis Racing] Today, Artemis Racing officially launched its challenge to win the 35th America’s Cup at an inspirational event in Sweden’s capital. Guests were treated to a rare chance of seeing the America’s Cup trophy first hand at the Moderna Museet, on Skeppsholmen Island at the heart of Stockholm’s proud maritime history.

Torbjörn Törnqvist, Team Principal of Artemis Racing said: “Sailing is my passion, and I’m very proud to once again represent Sweden in the America’s Cup. Given our experience from the 34th America’s Cup, what the team went through and achieved, we have an incredibly strong culture, a belonging to the team. Building on our core group from the last campaign, we have been able to secure talent across all areas, and I strongly believe that Artemis Racing is a team capable of winning the 35th America’s Cup”.

Artemis Racing will again challenge alongside Kungliga Svenska Segel Sällskapet (KSSS), the Royal Swedish Yacht Club, for what will be their second campaign together in the pursuit of winning the oldest competition in sport.

“The America’s Cup is the pinnacle of international sailing. KSSS is proud to be a challenger once again through Torbjörn Törnqvist’s Artemis Racing team. We are also very excited by the prospect of involving Swedish sailors in various ways in the project. We want to extend our gratitude to Torbjörn Törnqvist for making this possible” commented Staffan Salén, KSSS Commodore.

From left, Torbjörn Törnqvist, Nathan Outteridge and Iain Percy officially set their sight on the 35th America’s Cup. Stockholm, 19 August 2014. Photo copyright Sander van der Borch / Artemis Racing

New team members were announced, including Swedish Olympic champions, Fredrik Lööf and Max Salminen, as well as America’s Cup veteran Rod Davis.

Lööf is one of the most successful Swedish sailors of all times and a long-time friend and competitor of Team Manager Iain Percy. With a wealth of experience, he has participated in an incredible six Olympic campaigns, winning a gold medal at the London 2012 Olympics and bronze medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics in the Star class, and at the Sydney 2000 Olympics in the Finn class. Lööf’s career highlights also include three Finn World Championships, two Star World titles and a third place finish in the 2001-2002 Volvo Ocean Race.

On joining the team Fredrik said “I’ve been fascinated by the way sailing has been evolving over the last few years, with these new foiling boats and incredible TV production. I was really inspired by Artemis’ last campaign and having a Swedish boat on the start line again, and being part of it this time, is very exciting. Winning the America’s Cup and bringing it to Sweden for the first time would be something very special”.

One of the most promising talents in Swedish sailing, Max Salminen, still just 24, struck gold at the London 2012 Olympic Games alongside Fredrik Lööf in the Star class.

Artemis Racing also welcomed Sailing Coach Rod Davis. In his extraordinary America’s Cup career –now his 9th campaign – Davis brings an unparalleled wealth of experience to the team, having covered a variety of roles from bowman to mainsail trimmer, skipper, and more recently coach of Emirates Team New Zealand. Rod won a gold medal in the Soling class at the Los Angeles Olympic Games in 1984, and Olympic silver in the Finn class in Barcelona 1992. His track record also includes winning the Admiral’s Cup and the Sardinia Cup several times, as well as seven World Champion titles.

The Team has already amassed an incredible 61 America’s Cup Campaigns between its members, including 14 victories. Team members (including two designers) have competed in 21 Olympic Games, winning 11 medals, including seven Gold medals.

“Where some teams may have one Olympic gold medallist, we have six of them, however the focus is very much on the team, and there is no individual bigger than the group. We are not only in this competition to win the 35th America’s Cup, but to dominate the America’s Cup arena for the next decade.” Said Team Manager and Tactician Iain Percy. “I’m also passionate that Artemis Racing is more than simply winning, it’s about producing a legacy and winning in a certain way”.

The crew that aims to take on Oracle Team USA. Stockholm, 19 August 2014. Photo copyright Sander van der Borch / Artemis Racing

Harnessing fresh talent and inspiring younger team members is at the core of Artemis Racing’s new challenge, and the Team launched an internship programme which will give top Swedish students a chance to become directly involved in the key areas that make up a successful America’s Cup Team, spending up to 12 weeks working in the team base in Alameda, CA, USA, across different departments.

Artemis Racing also aspires to be the most sustainable and responsible team in the America’s Cup, announcing a number of initiatives including plans to ‘up-cycle’ or, ‘re-purpose’, their future base at the 35th America’s Cup venue.

The Team also announced partnerships with Pelle P, as the official clothing supplier and Cosworth Group, as technical supplier.

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AC62 Upwind Performance (part 2): Foiling – when and where?

Posted on 08 August 2014 by Valencia Sailing

Andrew Mason of VIRTAC provides an excellent and in-depth analysis of the upwind sailing aspects of the AC62′s, the recently-unveiled boats to be used in the 35th America’s Cup:

In Part 1 of this article we discussed the likely shape of the AC62 polar curve and how it affects the viability of upwind foiling in shifting wind conditions. In this article we will look at the decision making process of when and where to foil, and the tools and techniques that can be used to help predict these situations.

AC62 Foiling Evolution

America’s Cup designers such as Pete Melvin and Paul Bieker have talked about making the AC62 foil in lower winds than was feasible with the AC72. However, when the dimensions for the AC62 are compared with a scaled down AC72, the boat is heavier relative to its righting moment and sail area. This does not indicate a boat that will be more likely to foil in light winds than the AC72.

It is possible that the teams may reduce aerodynamic drag on their AC62s even more than was achieved by the Oracle team with their Cup-winning boat, but paradoxically, this may not make upwind foiling more advantageous, as it would improve the lift/drag ratio of the boat and make the high, non-foiling mode even more efficient.

Unlike the AC72, the AC62 allows dynamic control of rudder foil angle of attack. As a result, it may be possible to improve the efficiency of the main foils of the AC62 as they will not need to be as self-regulating in the heave axis. This may deliver some gains in the upwind foiling mode, as side-force can be generated more effectively when flying height can be precisely controlled. But how much more efficient upwind foiling will become is unclear, and whether upwind foiling mode can improve on the VMG available in the high-pointing displacement mode is also uncertain.

Some America’s Cup designers now believe that hulls are simply “foil delivery systems” and that hull design is no longer important, but this may be a naive view. It is a safe bet that the AC62s will be able to foil upwind in most conditions, but it is far from guaranteed that they will do so the majority of the time while racing.

Performance Prediction Difficulties

In order to accurately predict the behavior of the AC62 upwind it is necessary to use a Velocity Prediction Program (VPP) that can balance the forces and moments involved and determine the boat speed for a given true wind speed and direction. The problem is that for the 34th America’s Cup, many of the VPPs used by the teams were not able to do this satisfactorily for an AC72.

One of the primary reasons for this is the shape of the AC72 polar curve. It not only has multiple upwind VMG peaks, but for some wind angles it also has multiple boat speeds for the same wind angle, due to the hysteresis loop.These multiple solutions cause difficulties for the solvers used in conventional VPPs, which are designed to find a single equilibrium point. As a result of this limitation, a common problem for the conventional VPPs was getting different results when different starting conditions were used for a calculation.

Just because a force and moment equilibrium exists for a given wind speed and angle does not mean that it is achievable. The AC72 polar curve is “path dependent” in nature; that is, the performance achieved for a particular point of sail and wind speed is dependent on what headings and boat speeds preceded the current state. As a result there may be multiple equilibria possible for a given wind speed and direction.

AC72 polar curve

For example, with the idealized AC72 polar curve shown above there are two stable boat speeds possible at 60 degrees true wind direction: 21 knots and 29 knots. Which of these speeds the boat adopts depends on the path it has taken. The 29 knot speed is only achievable if the boat has previously borne away beyond 60 degrees, risen up on foils, then luffed up back to 60 degrees.

In some cases a force and moment equilibrium may exist for which there is no path available for a give wind speed. For example, it is likely that a wind speed exists for an AC72 where foiling can be maintained, but not initiated. An example of this may be where the boat has been foiling happily in 15 knots of wind but where the wind speed then drops to 12 knots. Even though the boat may not be able to get onto foils when the breeze is a steady 12 knots, it may be able to maintain foiling in that wind strength if it is already on foils.

This situation also occurs with planing boats, in that it is often possible to maintain planing when the wind drops slightly below the wind speed needed to initiate planing. However, in the case of foiling cats, the issue is more pronounced and causes significant issues for conventional VPPs, as these are designed to find a single equilibrium for forces and moments, not trace out the path to that equilibrium point to see if it is achievable.

The behavior described above is not just restricted to the AC72. Smaller foiling catamarans such as the Flying Phantom and GC32 also have sawtooth shaped polar curves upwind, with their high-pointing displacement mode having slightly better VMG than their low foiling mode. This makes it very likely that the AC62 will have similar behavior, and have similar problems with VPP predictions. The inability of conventional VPPs to resolve path dependencies and the resulting inaccuracy of their predictions has resulted in several of the teams for the next America’s Cup committing to new VPP development.

Cost/Benefit Analysis

The benefits of Wallying on foils in an AC62 will be substantial, but the penalties for getting it wrong will also be great. For example, if forced to sail a header for any period of time due to the proximity of a boundary or a competitor, the VMG obtained from sailing on foils will be dramatically worse than would be available from sailing in high mode.

Foiling on a header

The decision of whether or not to pull away and foil is a complex one based on how much the current tack is lifted, how far it is to the layline or boundary, and how soon a heading shift is expected. The maximum benefit occurs if the wind direction is headed just before the boat reaches the boundary or layline, but if this period is not long enough or the lift hasn’t been big enough, the gain may still not be greater than the distance lost pulling away to get onto the foils.

The mathematics required to calculate the the risks and benefits is complex, having many similarities to the methods used to value financial derivatives, such as the Black-Scholes model for options pricing. But these methods are complex and computationally expensive, and there is currently no on-board instrument system that is capable of weighing the future probability of lifts and headers versus the time available and the cost of initiating foiling. In the meantime, the decision when and where to foil upwind needs to be based on the intuition of the sailors.

Wallying Simulation

The complexity of the trade offs involved in the decision to foil upwind makes it essential for the helmsman and tactician to have an instinctive sense of when and where to Wally, and the only way of training this intuition is repeated race practice in different wind conditions. Although this may be possible with training boats such as foiling AC45s, SL33s or GC32s, these will not necessarily replicate the trade-offs required for the AC62, nor will they provide a controlled environment where their decisions can be measured and compared to the optimal course.

This is one situation that is ideally suited to a simulator, as scenarios can be repeated many times in a short period, course options can be compared to optimal outcomes, and sailors can benefit from an ideal learning environment. VIRTAC is specifically set up to foster this learning process, with the inclusion of Artificial Intelligence (AI) based opponents who are capable of evaluating and executing wallying strategies based on intelligent routing algorithms.

In this way helmsmen can compete against a synthetic competitor that always makes optimally informed decisions based on the probabilities, making the quality of a helmsman’s choices and their effect on the position in the race immediately apparent.

Postscript: Why is it called Wallying?

Several readers have asked where the term Wallying came from. The idea behind the technique has been around for some time, most commonly referred to as “footing to the header”, but the 1987 America’s Cup was first time that a yacht’s instrumentation system automated the calculations and provided recommendations based on the yacht’s polar curves.

Stars & Stripes 87

To avoid the on-board TV cameras and microphones revealing a new technique that the Stars & Stripes crew considered a key competitive advantage, the crew referred to a fictitious crew member, Wally, when course adjustments were relayed to Dennis Conner, the helmsman. Messages from the navigator such as “Wally suggests two tenths faster than target, Dennis” were clear to those on-board, but baffling to those unaware of the technique being used. Wally helped win the America’s Cup and has been immortalized ever since.

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