There is debate about the changes team Oracle made to their boat, during the "break".
Was it a fair change, using gyro's
Have a look at the Sail world article on this link.
A gyro should have been fitted to control the frontfoils and thus stabilize the platform and allow for smaller and consequnetly faster hydrofoils. The gyro is as far as I am concerned only allowable when both teams could use them, which still is unclear.
On a higher level and that is quite clear in the sailworld article, America's cup sailboats should be manually controlled and a computer (plc) controlled hydrofoil should then lead to disqualification.
From the races it can be clearly seen that team USA had severe stability problems in the earlier races before the "break". After the addition of the gyro's the boat looks very much more stable than the New Zealand boat as is apparent in many of the close quarter high speed racing where team New Zealand is all over the place and Dean Barker at the helm is constantly correcting course.
I am very curious what we will hear about this and what will happen next America's cup challenge, lets hope the sailing feast continues.
Below the complete sailworld text from their webpage.
The following notes are circulating in
Auckland media circles, as an explanation for Oracle Team USA's improved
foiling performance, as time progressed in the 34th America's Cup.
notes were dated September 23, 2013, but were received by Sail-World
mid-morning September 26, after the regatta had finished. But the device
was first highlighted by the Television NZ commentary team during their
coverage of the vital Race 19, of the 34th America's Cup. Click here for the full race coverage and NZ commentary including comment on the Oracle Team USA foiling performance.
afternoon, Tim Smythe, principal of Core Composite Builders, Oracle
Team USA's Warkworth (NZ) based building facility, said that the team
used the same set of foils through the regatta and that the 'special
foil adjuster system, was there before the regatta started'.
Click here for the TV3 report and interview with Tim Symthe.
matter was taken by Emirates Team NZ to the International Jury on
September 3, and a Decision issued on September 6, just one day before
the regatta started. It was rejected on the basis on being filed outside
the allowable time, but added a rider, that had it been issued inside
the time limit, but on the basis of what had been heard, the application
would have been unlikely to have been upheld.
NZ's Ray Davies said 'their boat is rock steady up wind, that takes us a
lot of effort, and we have been trying to it for a long, long time, and
yet they master it in just a few days.
It is well
recognised that Oracle was having serious foiling stability difficulties
at the outset of the regatta and that their performance could not match
that of ETNZ.
Half way through the series it was acknowledged
that Oracle had fitted an automatic control to their hydrofoil trim, and
that this modification was approved by the measurement authorities.
this modification Oracle's performance has almost unbelievably
improved. This has been 'explained' by skipper Jimmy Spithill as being
due to the superhuman efforts of the crew to improve their handling
skills. However, in view of the intensive training Oracle were able to
do, prior to the regatta, with their highly skilled team partner, it
seems unlikely that only now have they discovered the 'magic bullet'
they they clearly have. It is much more likely to be the result of the
modifications, possibly enabled by their surprising decision to use
their lay day card and the subsequent lucky postponements.
must be remembered that this is the first time that this contest has
been sailed by yachts 'flying ' on Hydrofoils and it is probable that
new and different criteria should have been applied.
aeronautical world it has long been known that the stability of swept
wing aircraft can rapidly be lost by uncontrolled yaw leading to a
dangerous situation known as 'Dutch Roll'.
A device known as
'Little Herbie' was developed during the commissioning of the Boeing 747
Jumbo Jets over 40 years ago, to over come this tendency. Little
Herbies, or 'Stability Augmentation Systems' (SAS) as these are now
designated, are equipped with sensors such as Accelerometers and Gyros
which can detect and instigate corrections to stability with a speed and
accuracy which exceeds the ability of even experienced airline pilots.
They are therefore now installed in virtually all swept-wing aircraft.
'legality' of this device has been justified and accepted on the basis
that it does not actually 'drive' the trim of the foils.....this is
still performed by the muscle power of the crew, via hydraulic linkages.
That may be so, but the device, using its sensing and directives, has
been described as 'automatic'. This implies that the trim of the foils
is determined by what can only be described as 'superhuman' technology.
If this technology has been used to overcome the foiling stability
difficulties of Oracle it will have enabled the use of higher
speed/lower drag foils which the crew would otherwise be unable to
manage. This would give a significant speed advantage during foiling.
This has been clearly in evidence since the modification. Improvement in
stability and speed has been staggering.
The high speed/low
drag foils do have a downside in light conditions where, due to their
lesser lifting characteristic, foiling is difficult or impossible. This
was also clearly seen in the abandoned Race 13 when ETNZ were only 4 minutes from the finish, with a lead of over 1000metres.
Oracle Team USA have not provided any official comment on the system they used.
it would seem that the actuator device is legal, if it is attached
directly to its own power supply, the wider question remains as to
whether a boat should be raced with a computer, rather than a human,
driving a primary control function.
The Racing Rules on the matter are very clear RRS42
Propulsion states: A yacht shall compete only by using the wind and
water to increase, maintain or decrease her speed. Her crew may adjust
the trim of the wing, sails, rudders, daggerboards and hulls, and
perform other acts of seamanship.
The vital words are at
the opening of the second sentence 'her crew' - meaning that an
automated adjustment which works independently of crew intervention is
Then BMW Oracle Racing did have very sophisticated
on-board systems in 2010 in the Deed of Gift Match, which amongst other
things they were able to overlay a line image of the optimum wingsail
shape against the actual image, enabling the crew to make the adjustment
required to get the two shapes into alignment, and achieve the ultimate
That is one step away from having the wingsail
shape adjusted by a computer independent of the crew which under RRS42
is illegal. Even under the current America's Cup rules such a system is
quite legal, and it is hard not to believe that such systems were not
used again in the 2013 America's Cup. The key point being that there
must be a crew intervention between the computer and the sail or other
control named in RRS42.
Of course computers are not infallible,
and any intelligent computer system requires a lot of tweaking and
refinement to be operate consistently and at a refined level. It all
takes time - and time is the most vital commodity in the America's Cup.
The time for application to the International Jury over such a
matter, is long gone. The rules require that a competitor protests or
lodges an application to the Jury as soon as they are aware of a
measurement issue, not later or at the end of a regatta.
by Richard Gladwell