Saturday 30 November 2013

America's Cup Oracle Team USA Secret to Winning

For those of you that followed the 34th America's Cup and watched the final excruciating (for a New Zealander) races, you would have been aware of the huge turnaround that the Oracle team achieved. To come from an 8 - 1 deficit to win the next nine races was massive and will go down in the annals not only of America's Cup history, but sporting history in general.

Many questions have been asked as to how this was achieved when Emirates Team New Zealand appeared to have the series and the Cup all tied up after twelve starts, only needing one more win to claim the 'Auld Mug' for the third time.

Technology won the day

That's when it all went pear shaped for Emirates Team New Zealand and their pride of New Zealand AC72 boat 'Aotearoa'. Team Oracle, or OTUSA somehow gained the edge and got on top of their foiling racing techniques. It all came down to technology in the end, as it so often does nowadays and the following article gives us some clues as to how OTUSA's 'daggerboard foil control system' worked:

Foil control system on Oracle's AC72

November 25, 2013 Jack Griffin
AC72 foil control secrets

Some people have questioned whether Oracle Team USA had a secret (and illegal) foil control system in their AC72 that helped them defend the America's Cup.

OTUSA has released drawings and photos of their system, which used a simple "mechanical feedback" loop to allow precise control of the daggerboard rake. Helmsman Jimmy Spithill had buttons on the wheel to rake the daggerboard fore and aft in precise increments of 0.5° giving him better control over lift for hydrofoiling.

OTUSA designers Dimitri Despierres (mechanical systems) and Eduardo Aldaz Carroll (electronic systems) began work in late June 2013 to help the team gybe better. The goal was to reduce distance lost in a gybe from 150 meters to 30 meters. To do this the engineers needed to deal with the problem that board movement varied depending on hydraulic pressure, making it impossible to control lift. What they needed was a way to move the board a fixed amount independent of the pressure and drag load on the board. Within a month, mechanical engineer Alex Davis developed a test bench with a servo control, hydraulic valve and hydraulic ram to simulate movement of the daggerboard box (see photo below).
Foil control test bench
Once the test bed system worked, the system was tested on board. Accuracy was fine, but it reacted too slowly. Mechanical engineer Neil Wilkinson and hydraulics specialist Rolf Engelberts improved the system to improve response speed and make everything more reliable and robust.
Buttons to adjust rake on wheel operated by skipper
The hydraulic ram for rake is not visible in the photo below, but you can see the rams for board cant, as well as the daggerboard cage and daggerboard box:

The box moves within the cage which is fixed to the hull
Rendering of AC72 daggerboard cage below. The cage is fixed in the hull. The daggerboard box moves fore / aft (rake) and side-to-side (cant) within the cage.
Daggerboard cage and daggerboard box
Controversy and protest by Team New Zealand

OTUSA wanted to make sure their system complied with the AC72 Class Rule. They filed a "Public Inquiry" to the Measurement Committee and got approval on 8 August 2013 - only a month before the America's Cup Match was to begin. Team New Zealand then tried to have OTUSA's system ruled illegal but the Measurement Committee stood by their initial decision and the International Jury ruled that New Zealand's protest was made too late, but would not have succeeded even if it had been filed on time. The marked up schematic below was part of Team New Zealand's submission. OTUSA eliminated the spring labeled "Component X" making the TNZ protest moot.

Article and images courtesy and Don Griffin

For all that, the question remains unanswered how it was that OTUSA mastered this system in just the one 24 hr period 'Lay Day' they had before going into race 13? Maybe there is more yet to come?

You can read much more about sailing and the cruising lifestyle in my book 'Sailing Adventures in Paradise' downloadable from my website

Wednesday 20 November 2013

Sailboat Cruise Yacht Refit/Preparation for Voyage Planning

Many times I have reminisced over the six month period I spent preparing/refitting my boat for my voyage from the UK to New Zealand. Many long hours of decision making, purchasing (including driving to many far off places to pick up urgently needed bits/parts to complete a job), installation and plain hard slog went into achieving the final result - a well found and equipped 43ft fast cruising yacht, a great sailer and robust enough to handle anything Mother nature could throw at us.
Almost there
As I was living aboard during that time with Dale, who was a meticulous installer and fitter of just about any piece of equipment that came into his hands, it was a joy to rise most mornings and attack that days task. From time to time, things as always don't go to plan, and that is when a halt was called for and a retreat beaten to the nearest pub for a couple of quiet ales to discuss the problem. In Shoreham, neighbour to Brighton, this was not a problem as the 'Local' was positioned beside the marina office just a short stroll from our berth! Suffice to say a plan would be hatched over a drink or two, solution/compromise generally found and back to work to complete that particular task. 
 'Tere Moana', fully equipped cruiser
Every voyage planner has different requirements for his vessel and that's as it should be. So you can easily see the vast range of gear that these requirements can encompass. The following is a refit list from ocean voyager owners Mike and Cate and their Morgan 41ft Out Island ketch 'Horizon':   

'........We have certainly been busy on Horizon the past couple years! While we have hired some of the work done, much more than I ever would have in the past, a lot of this was our own handiwork. I am lucky to have prior cruising experience so a lot of the decisions in picking gear was based on that, but then my career as a computer engineer makes me add other, more complex stuff that some see as superfluous which means Cate and our neighbours look askance at some of the things on this list. Sailors tend to have strong opinions and brand loyalty - I just hope all this stuff works together :) Yes I know that little of the expense of all the gear we are adding in this refit will be recovered when/if we have to sell her but we need a little higher level of comfort and safety that we did before.Below are most all of our projects to date for Horizon loosely grouped into categories. As we write more about items they will turn into links that will click through to the description.
s/v Horizon
  • Propulsion and steering
    • Replaced prop shaft - old one was scored and pitted
    • Replaced cutlass bearing
    • Replaced stuffing box hose
    • Replaced intermediate prop shaft bearing
    • Replaced engine exhaust hose
    • Replaced engine exhaust riser
    • Replaced raw water strainer
    • R&R heat exchanger
    • R&R raw water pump
    • Added Perkins M60 engine spares (list)
    • R&R hydraulic steering pump at helm - old one was leaking at shaft
    • Replaced hydraulic steering lines, replaced old copper with 1000 psi tubing
    • Removed EnTech diesel genset, Farymann engine was rusted solid
    • Added Torqeedo 1003 3 HP electric outboard with built-in battery
    • 15 HP Mercury - haven't touched the outboard but replaced tank and fittings
  • Anchoring
    • Added Lighthouse 1501 electric windlass
    • Added 210' 3/8" HT Acco G4 chain
    • Added 60# CQR, primary anchor - got this one used from Sailorman
    • Added 45# CQR, stern hook also well used
  • Safety
    • Added Mustang Survival Offshore life vests - auto-inflating w/built-in harness D-ring (2x)
    • Added Forespar MOB pole
    • Added Forespar horseshoe buoy
    • Added Tri-lens radar reflector
    • Added Fireboy automatic fire extinguisher for engine room
    • Added smoke alarm
    • Added CO monitor
    • Added Aqualarm bilge pump switch/alarm to aft bilge pump
    • Added Aqua Signal LED masthead light
    • Replaced 3 above water thru-hulls that were iffy
  • Communications
    • Added Sea Tech Communicator w/ICOM 802 ham/ssb radio, ICOM AT-140 tuner, and Pactor III modem
    • Added GAM split lead SSB antenna
    • Added KISS SSB ground system
    • Added GlobalStar GSP-1700 satellite phone w/Evolution II unlimited plan
    • Added Standard Horizon GX-2150 VHF radio w/AIS, DSC, and distress
    • Added Bullet M2HP WiFi radio w/SS marine antenna
    • Added Shakespeare 2030-G TV antenna
    • Added VHF antenna on mizzen dedicated to cockpit GX-2150 VHF
    • Added GSM Galaxy Nexus w/Straight talk plan - Okay not a cruising item but I sure love it!
  • Instrumentation
    • Added Lowrance HDS-8 Gen 2 chart plotter/sounder w/Caribbean & US charts
    • Added Lowrance/Navico 4G Radar
    • Added Raymarine ST-60+ wind vane
  • Power Generation
    • Added HiS-S240MG solar panels (2x) - 240 watt each
    • Added Rutlan 913 wind generator
    • Added KISS wind generator mount with rubber vibration isolator
    • Added Xantrex C-60 charge controller
    • Added Blue Sky SB3024DiL MPPT solar panel controller
    • Added Trojan T-125 6V 240AH lead acid batteries (4x)
    • Added Link battery monitor
    • Added Prosine 1800 Watt inverter
  • Plumbing
    • Added Raritan PH-II manual heads (2x)
    • Added Raritan Lectro-scan MSD
    • Added Shurflo 4 GPM fresh water pump (2x)
    • Added Shurflo Extreme Problaster 5 GPM washdown pump
    • Added Village Marine (Racor) NF-200 12V modular watermaker
  • Galley and Interior
    • Added Force 10 3-burner propane stove w/oven
    • Added Isotherm DR-55 drawer freezer frost-free
    • Added Adler Barbour CR-1065 upright refrigerator
    • Added Dickinson propane Sea-B-Que
    • Added Trident 17# fiberglass propane tanks (2x)
    • Added soda-making system with 5# CO2 tank using flavor concentrates
    • Added main salon cabinet sliding doors w/woven teak strips - replaced glass mirror slides
    • Added teak and holly cabin sole with laminate from Teak Decking Systems - replaced all interior carpeted areas
    • Added Hella Turbo fans (5x)
    • Added LED lighting - still adding strip lights inside bins
    • Added Dometic EnviroComfort 16,000 BTU A/C unit forward
    • Added Jensen AM/FM/CD w/RF wireless remote
    • Added main salon HDTV - still need a fish tank screen saver tho
    • Added Acer Revo HTPC
    • Added JSI aft cabin mattress - 3" firm foam, 2" medium, 2" memory foam
    • Enlarged access to bins under settee
  • Other
    • New hull AwlGrip and Petite Trinidad bottom paint - Maximo did a fantastic paintwork job
    • New SS portholes New Found Metals 4x14 (16x) - replaced plastic originals
    • Added deck propane tank enclosure, nicely made to our specifications by B&R Sales
    • Added aft mounted deck box and seat contoured to the cabin top and deck
    • Replaced the too-heavy-for-us AB 12' RBI with the Avon 3.1 Rollaway from my old Horizon
    • Replaced all running rigging
    • Replaced all lifelines with new by SECO South
    • Replaced navigation lights with LED
    • Replaced Bomar main salon hatch
    • Added used Dahon SS folding bikes (2x)
    • Added burgee halyard pulleys on main spreaders
    • Added Hookamax 12v w/2 50' hose dive systems
    • Yet to do: move water heater from under galley sink to engine room
    • Wish list: Simrad hydraulic autopilot
    • Wish list: spreader lights, LED?

Engine spares list

I learned from cruising the last time that the part you do not have is the one that is going to break. I worked with a local shop to find and get the parts for our 1995 era Perkins Prima M60 diesel engine.
  • 1 Fresh water pump
  • 1 Raw water pump
  • 3 Raw water impellers
  • 1 Raw pump rebuild kit
  • 1 Fuel pump
  • 2 Fuel filters
  • 1 Starter
  • 1 Alternator
  • 1 Serpentine (timing) belt
  • 1 Thermostat
  • 1 Radiator cap
  • 1 Seal/gasket kit - probably will need this
  • 1 Injector - got only one of these just in case
  • 1 Glow plug - not needed in warn climates but got one just in case
  • 1 Temperature sender
  • 1 Oil pressure switch
  • 3 Racor fuel filters
  • 5 Oil filters

This looks a very daunting list and indeed it is. These folks obviously had substantially different requirements than what I had several years previously, largely due to the advances in computer technology, electronics, phone/entertainment systems etc. Mike being a computer engineer obviously had a head start in that department. 

These tasks are approached one by one and ticked off the list as you go. Personally, I used a thick black marker pen drawn through the middle as each task was completed. For many weeks, not much progress appears to have been made. But one day you notice that a line is drawn through half or more of the items and suddenly it seems that the end is in sight and this is rather satisfying. From then on, the tempo and enthusiasm rises quite sharply until one day you have arrived at the finish and there are just a few odds and ends to be finalised.

Then you have to seriously start thinking about when you are going to leave port and set sail?!

List courtesy s/v Horizon, images courtesy Mike and self

You can follow Mike and Cate's adventures on their blog 

You can read much more about offshore cruising in my book 'Sailing Adventures in Paradise' by downloading it from my website