AC34: Mods and Moding
AC34: Mods and Moding
Design team members from Oracle Team USA and Emirates Team NZ talk about honing the performance of the AC72s during racing and what, exactly, "moding" is.
Both Holroyd and Kramers agree that the new course layouts for this America's Cup meant that they had initially focused their search for speed on the downwind legs.
"Because of the course geometry with long downwinds, our design theory was based around downwind speed being really important," Holroyd explains. "The foiling strategy that we went down is largely as a result of that."
Now, both teams have switched their attention to eking out extra knots on the single upwind leg--a fact that Holroyd actually puts down to the parity of the teams' downwind performance.
"The boats are actually way faster in both directions than we ever envisaged at the start of the campaign," he says.
"The emphasis that we are now seeing on upwind speed is as a result of the fact that both teams are going so fast downwind and very, very evenly. So now the differences in the contest are focused on upwind."
"One of Oracle's key features was always how to get to the bottom mark first," says Kramers. "Because if there is a difference in speed upwind then you can defend it if you get to the bottom mark first. That would hold good for any type of boat, but the differences we can make on these boats are much, much larger."
Many of the talked about modifications the teams make are to do with the 'moding' of the boats--but what does that actually mean?
Holroyd explains it like this:
"At the end of the day there are a set of forces acting on the boat, and any time you generate lift there is a certain amount of drag that comes along with it," he says. "So we are looking closely at those equations and how, for a specific windspeed, we generate those forces most efficiently. That's moding."
Despite the Kiwis needing only one more point to win the America's Cup when I spoke to Holroyd, he said there had been no slackening in the quest to make their boat go faster--particularly with unfamiliar sub-15 knot winds forecast for Thursday and rest of this week.
"You try not to get too bound up in the high at the moment, as we still need to be able to make good unemotionally-based decisions; as we go through this week and develop the boat that is really important," he says.
"The thing that we have done really well as a team is the fantastic conversation that we have always had between our design and sailing team that came out of our small boat testing.
"We are focused on keeping the processes that we have as a group working smoothly so that we can keep on making good decisions and then see how it plays out."