America’s Cup and racing
03 October 2010
I am quite happy with the direction America's Cup (AC) competition is going. I was hoping this would happen in 1988 when the USA ran the winged cat "Stars and Stripes". Unfortunately, the "Old Guard" clung to their outdated mono-hulls for the next 20 years and high-speed sailing progress suffered as a result. Please note that I am not against mono-hulls; they are fine and beautiful craft, but when a windsurfer with equipment costing under $1000 can sail nearly 3times the speed of a multi-million dollar AC mono-hull, we have a credibility problem.
When I tell someone I've been developing a high-speed sailboat, I commonly get asked if I'll enter AC competition. I laugh and say the AC guys don't want to see what I'm doing. However "the times they are a changing" and sailing technology is moving closer to what Bernard Smith and other innovators have been advocating for years. Note that I could design a catamaran or mono-hull using the stability principles I've worked out for Sailien, but that would require big bucks to enter AC competition (possibly including legal fees as we have seen).
At this point I'm going to discuss racing competition a bit. As we all know, racing is a simple game in which you take your symbol (icon, avatar, etc.) and attempt to move it from point "A" to point "B" faster than the other guy can move his symbol. While I imagine most of us would think that racing had it's origins in two guys vying to see who could get to the rabbit faster (winner gets to eat) or who could get to the girl faster (this one is not a sure thing, because we know the ladies can be fickle...). As an aside, I'd like to point out that God was practicing when he made man and he perfected it when he made woman. Ladies, you have never been inferior to man in any way, but certain cowards have tried to make it seem so.
While racing actually predates two guys running, that gets us off into the field of philosophy and I'll get scolded again if I go there. Ok, so from running against each other, we then started racing our horses, camels, ostriches, chariots, sailboats, cars, planes, and everything else (are we having fun yet?!!). Ah, but this time it's racing sailboats!
Now, from all I can tell, AC racing was simply a race to see who had the fastest sailboat and best sailors; there appears to have been no restriction on sailboat design. This brings us to the race promoter's dilemma; what about rules? Let's re-look at the rabbit race. One of the guys feels a bit inferior (coward is another term) so he brings a double barrel shotgun to the race. Bang, one blast gets the rabbit; bang, the other blast gets his opponent and he ambles over (waving his gun in triumph) and picks up the rabbit. Some of you might protest that the coward cheated, but the only rule was he who gets to the rabbit first, gets to eat. Well that shotgun wiped out the game, so a race promoter sees the need for rules. By the way, the history of this planet could almost be traced by tracking the biggest cowards (those controlling the biggest guns). And who are the biggest cowards at present - the international bankers who are in control of the biggest guns and are currently in the process of consolidating their power world-wide.
We now can see that rules are important to a competition in order to have a fun game. The trick is: how restrictive should the rules be? If the rules are too few, the game can fall apart as above; if they are too restrictive, innovation gets stifled and the game can stagnate. I tend to like fairly liberal rules because I can often think of an innovative way to gain speed at little expense. With more restrictive rules, you are often forced to use the most exotic (expensive) materials to be competitive. In any event, the new AC direction looks like it will be more fun for a greater number of people (more speed, and thrills and spills).