Writing the Rule
Writing the Rule
Wasn’t the Rule designed to discourage foiling?
GM: No, that’s a bunch of crap. When we were writing the Rule we were really pushing Oracle and Mascalzone Latino to take all the constraints off the daggerboards and rudders and let it be the Pandora’s Box: Let’s have active control systems and wands, let’s see what people can come up with. Oracle was quite supportive of that, and we wrote a Rule. One edit that survived 2 or 3 weeks stated that there were really no constraints on daggerboards and rudders—you could have articulation, flaps, moveable systems, you could have moveable extensions like a Moth or a tri-foiler.
The ML guys weighed in and put the veto on it—they didn’t want to let these boats out loose with no Rule. I think the rationale at the time for them was that they knew Oracle was already going to have a headstart on the wing, and they knew that we already had curved foils on the trimaran. They knew that the big boats were already progressing toward higher lift fraction (the amount of lift that the boards produce as opposed to the amount of lift the hulls produce, like a fully-flying boat is a 100-percent lift fraction—all the higher boat weight is on the foils whereas you could have 90-percent lift fraction, where 90 percent is on the foils and 10 percent on the hulls). At the time Oracle was fully supportive of a full flying boat, all bells and whistles. But we were asked to back it down so we reluctantly started trying to carve out a Rule that didn’t preclude flying but made it a little bit more challenging without all the bells and whistles.
What were the compromises which have resulted in somewhat “awkward” daggerboards?
GM: The compromise was to allow the daggerboards a fair amount of freedom—you could cant them, change the rake, twist them, rake them up and down, but you couldn’t translate them, which means move them fore and aft of the boat which is important for certain windspeed conditions where you may have a big gennaker up front and may want to move a board forward, for example, but that would have been a big structural challenge. It was agreed that we could put elevators on the rudders—we still wanted to have articulating elevators so that the elevators could move like an airplane with flaps that the crews could actively adjust like a Moth. So, the outcome was we got elevators but no controls.
The joke was it was like giving us an airplane that could fly but with a dead stick. You don’t get to change its angle of tack or control with the rudder. It put all the emphasis on changing the flying on the daggerboards. At the time I think they felt that was going to be a big enough constraint to keep the boat costs down by not having all these crazy systems—wands, sensors, crazy hydraulic pressures—and that would make it hard to fly. Oracle and Artemis made early assumptions that you may not get there from here, but we knew we could fly—we’d had experience with three or four other cats.
Where do you think your experience really kicked in for ETNZ?
GM: The 72 was designed from the start as a foiling boat. We’d already designed the SL33 with curved foils. ETNZ immediately bought two of them, and we tried dozens and dozens of foil combinations on the SL33 before we built the first 72. By allowing us to have elevators, everyone knew that we were going to fly. It was just a matter of how we would control it, and that’s where every team has fought for a various technique to control flying in a response to the rule restriction. If we could control the rudders we would have a different daggerboard. We knew we would fly but not whether we’d fly under control. We were afraid that Juan K. or Dirk Kramers or one of the other smart guys around the table would figure it out before we did. As it turns out, we have a solution that gets us around the racecourse.
Pete [Melvin] has said previously that multihulls can be match-raced, a sentiment not shared by many. Do you concur?
GM: I don’t care. The America’s Cup is not about match racing. The America’s Cup is about building the fastest boat possible to get around the course. Match racing was really only an evolution of the 12-Metre and boats that go slow. You have to read the Deed of Gift to understand the intention of the America’s Cup.
Can you point out the design differences with Luna Rossa’s first generation 72 versus ETNZ’s Aotearoa?
GM: Yeah, they had a generation 1 boat, and we had a generation 2.5 boat. There was a lot of refinement in the systems that control the boatspeed and maneuverability. You have to have fully-orchestrated maneuvers now to keep the thing on foils and coming out of the jibes with the minimum loss of VMG. The difference between a good foiling jibe and someone basically dropping a hull in the water is around 400 meters. Now the difference between a good foiling jibe and a bad foiling jibe is still 100 meters. A lot of it is maneuverability, the articulation system of the wing, the self-jibing of the jib, the crew-weight transfer, daggerboard timing going up and down—all at 45 knots in racing pressure, or what we call, “racing in anger." It’s where the big deltas are going to occur.
Likewise, what’s with the Oracle boat that stands out versus ETNZ’s boat?
GM: Oracle have a narrower boat so if we get into displacement sailing, like in 8 knots of wind, they may have a “slippier” hull which may be an advantage if it’s super light. Just watching them sail over the past six to seven weeks you can see that they’re climbing up the learning curve fast. Their daggerboards and control systems have evolved towards ETNZ’s. They have a theoretically better system, but I think they’ve basically thrown in the towel and said, "We can’t seem to make this work, we’re going to have to go to a self-adjusting system, a self-leveling system." So they gave away, I think, one of their potential advantages in a breeze.
Oracle’s biggest advantage is more time in San Francisco, more money and resources. They probably have the ability to sail the boat “in anger” than ETNZ may choose to at certain points. Kostecki has probably got 10,000 more hours on the Bay than Ray Davies or Dean Barker, like one event last summer in the ACWS where Spithill went from dead last to first in one blast, literally sailing through the fleet. That’s a clear advantage. I think Jimmy is aggressive enough that he could drive the boat toward major league danger and force Dean and ETNZ to flinch. They have the resources to be able to risk it all unlike ETNZ. Oracle may be willing to risk and pull the trigger to kill the program in a jibe.
How do you control costs in this game?
GM: If you mandated all the boats to go back to soft rigs and change the box so that wings were eliminated, you’d kick out a bunch of costs. I think the whole argument about money is a fallacy—every team will spend what they raise. We could make the boat half as big and Larry Ellison would spend just as much money. The team doesn’t get any smaller! We’re not controlling costs by controlling boats or people. Even Dean and Grant [ETNZ] would spend every dime that they raise if they could.
Is there already some back-room designing going on somewhere?