Monday, August 03, 2009

Rule 53

There are too many sailing rules. It is a popular contention, and some feel it holds the sport back. Rules experts point out that despite the girth of the rule book, it is only the 14 rules in Part 2 that are relevant on the race course. To provide a simpler rules guide, Scuttlebutt posted in March 2009 an abbreviated rules publication by Ken Quant titled 'The Basic Sailboat Racing Rules All Racers Should Know'. US SAILING also provides a simplified, pocket sized rules guide to help.

Now the America’s Cup defender, the Swiss Alinghi team, is coming to the rescue as well. For the next Match, they have decided to eliminate six rules from the rule book. Among them is Rule 53 - Skin Friction. The rule reads, “A boat shall not eject or release a substance, such as a polymer, or have specially textured surfaces that could improve the character of the flow of water inside the boundary layer.” Without this rule, what is it that we will see on these maxi multihulls?

The uproar last week at the Swimming World Championship was about the new generation of body suit that is 100% polyurethane, admittedly better and soon to be banned from that sport. So that is one option. What about air hockey? How cool would it be for tiny air jets along the hull to lift the boat up and out of the water? Better yet, how about bow jets emitting a substance so the hulls glide through something more slippery than saltwater? There has to be some kind of chemical that is faster to sail through than saltwater.

The America’s Cup has always been a source of technology break-thrus that trickle down into the sport. Let’s hope this isn’t one of them.

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10 Comments:

At 7:00 PM, Blogger Martin said...

I hope they won't follow such a stupid path. Ejecting chemicals into the water and hence to pollute simply to go faster is surely the most stupid thing one can do. On top of it there are - if I remember correctly - international laws for ships in general that ban the ejection of chemical into the water.

 
At 8:05 PM, Blogger Tillerman said...

It's all about mind games. Even if Alinghi have no intention of doing anything that is outlawed by Rule 53, they have now planted the idea of such a possibility in the heads of their opponents who will be wondering whether Alinghi is doing something of that kind and whether they should be testing out similar approaches.

Now watch BMW/Oracle try and turn the tables by hinting that they are pleased that Rule 53 has been waived and that they plan to take full advantage of that.

 
At 9:16 PM, Blogger Tanzsegler said...

I can't help but think that the boats will be spewing McLube or Dawn off the bow to ensure that the water is as slippery and suctionless as possible.

 
At 11:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, god forbid the Swiss should be spewing some chemicals into the arabian gulf to make their yacht go faster ....

but we won't complain about the US military and their imperial war machine, think Gulf War I and chemical ejections ... enriched uranium, whole oil storage depots emptied or burning ... perspective can't got be had through a CRT or LCD it seems!

 
At 7:08 AM, Anonymous Andy Vare said...

Lets not forget what DC wrapped his Stars N Stripes in down in Freemantle? A low friction 2M Glad-bag type stuff below the waterline that was demonstrably faster than a 12 without....no relation to Gladstone if you were wondering...and going even farther back into the 70s there were several studies done and outlined in Yacht Racing magazine about "hot boats and hot water"..and ablatives and surface polymers adding huge performance gains. There is enough money in the sport that if it provides a performance benefit, someone will do it if it isn't illegal....luckily we have had that rule for some time. Can you think of a competitor bringing a 55 gallon drum weighing say 500 lbs in centerline just above the keel, with a winch driven pump, sending polymer into the bow wave, and calculating the exact amount necessary to serve the whole first beat and be emplty at the weather mark when it was time to go downwind? Environmental nightmare..though .If you are currently funded through Carlyle Group then you understand the mindset...

 
At 1:33 PM, Anonymous Jeff Brock said...

On skin friction, anybody who releases chemicals in the water to make a boat go fast should be jailed if not shot. I thought were trying save the planet and its waters? Da!!

 
At 11:53 PM, Blogger Pat said...

As if we didn't already have enough reasons to turn our backs the late great Cup, the brats have to come up with another slap in the face of decent, regular sailors who do care about their environment.

 
At 1:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's going to be an engineers' Americas Cup ... the sailors won't be needed this time around, thank-you.

As it was designed for since the beginning, finally sailboat design will allowed to move forward again.

 
At 5:43 PM, Blogger Pat said...

Not that the judge would likely allow Bertarelli's choice of venue, but would Alinghi's motor be more effective if the match were to take place in the flat-water Straits of Hormuz?

Maybe the Alinghi brain trust calculates that the Straits are a place where pollution from polymers would be less noticeable. But then, the pollution and debris from a sunken catamaran wouldn't be excessively noticeable there, either.

Can I at least fantasize about the Iranians or assorted terrorists getting rid of at least one billionaire?

And, if the judge were to force Bertarelli to choose a S. Hemisphere venue, may I nominate Kismanyo, Somalia, just south of the Line. Lousy sailing, hot as hell, and convenient, easy access for terrorists and pirates -- all the sorts of things that should delight the Alingis.

 
At 6:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everyone is talking about the chemicals, but what about the part where it talks of a textured surface. Think about a golf ball and its dimples. I am not saying the boat will be dimpled but with all the money in research maybe someone will come up with something comparable to that of dimples on golf balls. The cup is more exciting to me than ever, except for this courtroom bullshit. I like the 90'x90' anything goes idea. Even a small time racer like myself may, someday, see a benefit of trickled down technology.

 

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