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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