Monday, April 26, 2010

The Myth of Multihulls

The multihulls we watched in America’s Cup 33 were amazing, well, at least one of them. The boat that won. BMWOracle’s trimaran USA.

Now the yacht club that sponsored BMWOracle Racing, Golden Gate Yacht Club of San Francisco (GGYV), with an assist from its challenger partner, Club Nautico di Roma (ITA), has apparently formulated the protocol for America’s Cup 34, and will be announcing it soon. That’s great. All of us are ready and waiting.

Just for the record:

(1) We don’t think America’s Cup is drag racing. Drag racing is about highly powered, ungainly vehicles challenging each other in a speed-only event. We saw some drag racing in AC33. It was new and captivating since we had never seen drag racing before in America’s Cup. However, like most purists – and as Bruno Troublé (head of yacht racing for former America’s Cup sponsor Louis Vuitton) and many other purists probably feel about this – we hope that drag-racing doesn’t become the future of America’s Cup.

(2) Multihull racing vs. monohull racing is like giraffes – no, camels – racing thoroughbred horses. Sometimes those camels and giraffes are extraordinarily fast, but thoroughbreds are better bred, more elegant, more beautiful to look at, and, well, fast enough.

(3) You cannot discern yacht speed on television. Monohull or multihull, you cannot tell by watching helicopter footage (which most us see), even in close up, exactly how fast boats are sailing. Speed actually is rational data communicated live by commentators, by onscreen captions, or through online presentations from modeling data (as on Virtual Spectator). Any argument that America’s Cup needs multihulls because racing is about speed is, inevitably, null and void. Television cannot discern speed on the water.

(4) Multihull speed – indiscernible to most viewers anyway – is about the thrill of failure. This is the ‘spinnaker syndrome’, raised to the power of ten. Whenever most of us see stress on a racing boat, it’s when spinnakers are raised. In a situation exacerbated by commentators and television producers, most of us sit there and wait for something to destroy everything. It’s a bit like NASCAR, transcribed to downhill legs on a sailing racecourse. The fact is, cataclysmic incidents are what high-speed racing multihulls are all about, most of the time. Even multihull sailors admit that. We respect that courage and everything else that makes multihulls unique. But is this what America’s Cup is about?

(5) Once speed is diminished by television, multihull racing is (wait for it) boring. It’s about straight-line, drag-racing speed. It’s about the fear of failure. In America’s Cup, so far, it hasn’t been about tactical, competitive action. So far, multihull racing has shown us long, boring legs of immense speed that we cannot discern, except when one boat is faster than another. And that’s the only definition of speed that matters. Contrastingly, did we ever see much in AC33 like this clip from AC32? In this random engagement, just one of scores we watched, commentator Andy Green (UK) actually uses the term 'drag race'. But pure boat speed is irrelevant. Relative performance is what counts. Above all, tactics, decision making, and competition are everything. We think this is what AC34 should be about:

(6) Anyway, if you wanted a new level for America’s Cup endeavor, we thought big monohulls for AC33 was a pretty good idea. Big, beautiful, powerful monohulls like the AC90 concept (below, from AC Management), promulgated in the original AC33 protocol, could take America’s Cup to another level. Want them to be even more exciting? Make them bigger, higher, wider, more. Just to refresh your memory (click on the picture for a closer look):

Anyway, that’s our view. You have yours.

The idea that counts comes next week.

We hope.




31 comments:

Mike said...

sure. everyone wants to watch a slow boat race. snooze. how about racing barges? monos are dead.

Rafinha said...

You shoud learn sailing current multihulls or keep using a typing machine and the mimeographer to distribute your newsletter... AC32 experience was awesome, if boats were under a narrower rule it would be even better. The discution should be about competitiveness to the best technology available under an affordable budget. Its hard to realize, but multihulls are definitly more fun and will be also more attractive to racing once more sailors learn how to sail them.

Gybe Sports said...

It's a match race, the most exciting part should be.
1) the boats are close in relative speed.
2) Tactics is a big part
3) The crew have to work, lots of Tacks and sail changes etc both up and downwind
4) A real challenger series
5) no electronic sail trimming.

Sam said...

A good monohull can reach high speeds, look at Volvo 60 and 70,
TP52s and modern canting keel maxis.
Would love to see boats similar to Alfa Romeo and Wild Oats XI matchracing, that would be fantastic.

Jake said...

Seriously...your cart of progress is in a really deep ditch. You should get some help with that. Fortunately for us, others do believe that the America's Cup should be exciting and continue to expand it's marketability (and therefore it's sponsorship potential). Multihulls are an important path toward that goal.

The issue you claim with being unable to assertain the relative speed of the multihull on TV has NOTHING to do with the fact that it was multihulls you were watching. Rather, it had everything to do with the shear unimaginable size of those boats. You couldn't get a sense for the size and relative speed because the scale is very difficult to grasp. No, multihulls are exciting to watch on TV and yes, you can clearly see the speed difference.

Cole said...

It seems that the crux of your argument is "you can't discern sailboat speeds on TV". Utter hogwash. Were you watching the same event I was? When BOR90 entered the box pre-start flying two hulls past the committee boat, you didn't see speed? Come on! Now I admit that the absolute speed of two well matched boats on the same tack can be a little tough to see, though I still don't agree, but what about crossings? Crossings of boats going 20+ knots has all the mayhem producing potential of 10 NASCARs. The design rule producing well matched boats will be key. Multihulls flying hulls are more cool to watch than monos ever will be. Sailboat racing is in large part about speed and anyone who tries to oppose that is ultimately wasting their time.

krakski said...

Planing multihulls exhibit huge dynamics and excitement, as well as put more weight of winning on the crew and teamwork. I would like to see racing that depends more on athleticism and talent of skipper and crew, and less on the engineering and construction of the yacht. A tight rule, a smaller yacht could open up a broader spectrum of competitors, that may require something less than ginormous billionaire funding

krakski said...

Planing multihulls exhibit huge dynamics and excitement, as well as put more weight of winning on the crew and teamwork. I would like to see racing that depends more on athleticism and talent of skipper and crew, and less on the engineering and construction of the yacht. A tight rule, a smaller yacht could open up a broader spectrum of competitors, that may require something less than ginormous billionaire funding

Ross said...

I can't imagine I wasn't clear. However, for clarity.

Yes, the relative speed of two boats seen together, competing aggressively, anywhere on the race course, is definitive. Yes, of course, you can determine speed. The fastest boat, obviously, is ... faster. But shrink the camera to isolate one boat in the television frame. Not even you can tell how fast she is sailing. For most people, eight knots looks like 18 knots.

The same is true with multihulls.

We loved those big boats because everyone told us they were fast -- commentators, modeling, the graphical interfaces. Watching Alinghi bounce up and down while USA disappeared into the distance, obviously, Alinghi was slow and USA was faster. But looking at Alinghi solo, from a camera in a helicopter, how fast was she sailing? Unless you were told, you wouldn't know.

Relative speed -- one boat pulling away from another -- absolutely is definitive. That visual impression, aided and abetted by television commentary, is what speed is for most fans. The relationship between a trimaran and a cat, or between two monohulls, is exactly the same. It's thrilling, or it isn't, if one boat is moving away, rounding the mark sooner, or falling behind dramatically. But look at them individually on a television frame, which is how most fans watch them, speed is meaningless. Formula One cars have trees, signs, structures blurring past. We have static blue water.

My point is, you don't need multihulls to have great America's Cup racing. You just need two boats racing. Monohulls provide as big a thrill as multihulls.

If, however, you think the the thrill of failure adds excitement to America's Cup, there's a simple solution to that, too.

Build bigger monohulls.

sasha said...

match racing multis? people you must be totally out. sure multis are great fun, spec. in a breeze, but racing? you hit the corner right after the start, tack twice upwind, put the chute up and go down, one gybe, repeat all. that's it, all about boatspeed, way too easy. club racing, international level - no difference whatsoever. personally i race f18s a few times a year, but give me a good competitive dinghy fleet anytime, way more challenging. besides, ever heard about any multi racer successfully transferring to a mono class at international level?
on the sidenote, "Planing multihulls"? what a nice new concept, can't wait to see one.

Mike said...

Well, folks, if you don't think you can see speed on TV, pull up this series of videos on Groupama, which big tri broke the round the world record...http://www.cammas-groupama.com/do/mediatheque?lang=en

There are 70 vids on the bottom right. Pick some of the fast ones. You monohull round the buoy guys, might be amazed at what you are seeing. The French trimarans are capturing the imagination of the world...not just the sailing world. Monos are a dying breed, and the faster we can bury them, the better.

Jake said...

I'm sorry - this article is just so far off base. Here, take a look at the following video and tell me again how you can't sense the speed.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yy-rOG96eO0

Ross said...

Yes, extreme sailing shows speed. Yes, small boats show speed. No question. But we are discussing America's Cup. Go back and look at AC33. Then come back here and tell me that monohull enthusiasts are wrong.

Joe Saad said...

I love watching Extreme 40's racing. These cats are awesome and spectator friendly. They are fast, there are a lot of tactics, a lot of speed and a lot of crashes.
I'd love to see the America's Cup battled in "extreme" mono-type multihulls between 50' and 60' in places like the SF Bay, or other similar locations allowing big spectator crowds to gather on shore and watch live and exciting action made even more so by exciting and fun commentators (on loud speakers) and all this transmitted on live TV worldwide. This, I am sure will draw huge public interest and huge sponsorships which will make the sport more popular and more mainstream.

Mike said...

The America's Cup is a contest of design and sailing. Sailing encompasses technical match racing skills, boatspeed, seamanship, wind-spotting and more.

Multihull racing requires the same skills as monohulls, but in different proportions. Windspeed-spotting is more important because their performance is more sensitive. ACC v5 yachts hardly change their speed between TWS 10 - 30kn - whoever wins the start or gets the first shift has a huge advantage for the next 18 miles.

There is chatter about multihulls sailing to opposite corners. Because neither can afford to let the other sail into better wind it's more likely the leader will cover. Yes, the tack loss is large, but as long as the leader doesn't more tacks it's OK - this is exactly the same game as mono match racing too.

Whether the yachts have 1, 2 or 3 hulls if they are fast then there is greater opportunity to pass downwind. Surely part of yacht racing is the chance of a lead change? Everyone remembers the 12-metres with affection, but the racing was mostly processional. Even a sail blow-out or crew error wasn't punished by losing.

吳家瑩 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
John said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
traveldestination said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Kraxpelax said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
UltimateWebsiteDesigns.com said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Zafer Ali said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
ME .[ZX] said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
free google sms said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Learn Speaking English said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
free google sms said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
v4vectors said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
biningshao said...

Microsoft Office 2007 provides office software essentials to homes and small business so that users can get tasks done more quickly and easily. Office 2007 is the office software suite that empowers you to create great-looking documents, spreadsheets, and presentations, and to manage your e-mail messages, calendar, and contacts.

PropTiger.Com said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anil Yadav said...

Thanks For Providing the information. I have also avail information about the best new project Paras Quartier Gurgaon residential project launched by Paras Buildtech on Gurgaon Faridabad Road.

suresh kumar said...

An excellent resource of information I will certainly return to check on the latest posts. I have also avail information about the best new project Emaar MGF Imperial Gardens

Anil Yadav said...


Thanks For Providing the information. This is very nice post and have great information. I have also avail information about the best new project Umang Monsoon Breeze Phase-2 launched by Umang Group in the sector 78, Gurgaon. The project is available in the options of 2, 3 and 4 BHK apartments .