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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Boats and the ACWS 2011 (America's Cup World Series)

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Boats and the ACWS  
(America's Cup World Series)

It is a practice race day for the AC45s.  Count Ferrari takes his trusty point and shoot camera (borrowed from the Countess) and goes out on P-1 boat with Jeff Zarwell, boat driver, and Roger Renstrom, journalist from Plastics News.

Jeff was a wealth of information.  He had been in charge of the medical boat at Plymouth but had done such a good job, he was 'promoted' to supervising the fleet of press boats.  He had been at both two previous venues for the ACWS.  He had his own business as a PRO ( in San Francisco so he knew racing issues.  He got us in as close as anyone could wish but did not get in the way of the racers.  He asked what position we wanted to see the start, race, and finish from.  It was a front row seat!

As Jeff was explaining details about the ACRM boats Roger picked up his ears and really got interested.  The carbon fiber RIBs really got his attention.  If you wish to read a very fine article, which is very complete on the ACRM boats, check this out.
Entire contents copyright 2011 by Crain Communications Inc.

Press Boat #2 (carbon fiber hull) with Jeremy of Surf City Racing
 trying to geto our boat.
Note the crowd in the background on the dock.

This particular white boat with a yellow P flag (press) is a 28' boat that has a direct conflict with the Jones Act.   It was not made in the US and cannot carry passengers without going offshore every couple of days to stay legal.  This was done by our captain for this regatta but in a special act of the US Congress, the ACWS was granted an exemption which is very rare.  AC and the new law

Captain Jeff called P-1 a mono-cat as the connecting floor pounds on 9" waves sending vibrations through the entire vessel.   It was powered by twin 115hp outboard motors that had a snug cover over them as the manufacturer would not pay a royalty to ACRM for the public exposure the boats would have.  Larry Ellison had covers built to keep the manufacturer from getting free advertising.

Other similar boats were used as mark boats, gate boats, and finish boats.  These would hover in place after being told which Lat/Lon. they were to be on.  The position of these boats for the San Diego ACWS was down to driver skill with the GPS giving them accuracy similar to the AC45s of 2 cm based on 14-22 satellites (both US and Russian).
Finish mark and the 7th mark to round.

Green boats were used for the pin end of the start and one end of the finish.  Orange boats were used as the reach mark and the two sets of gates (to leeward and to weather) as well as a finish mark.  They all flew flags to denote which number gate the competitors were going around.  That was very slick for shore watching.  Other white boats with C flags escorted local boats around the edge of the course.

Green and Orange Finish boats as Artemis Racing finishes
in front of the US carrier Midway.

Bow of the Midway.  It is bigger than one would think!

There was a carbon RIB with twin outboards used to right a tipped over AC45 if needed.  There were three boats seen, that flew the R (rescue) flag.  Apparently all one has to do was attach a tow line to the bow of the 45 and tow it forward, into the wind and the wing would lift it right up.  That was never tested in San Diego but they had lots of practice in Plymouth!  Another carbon R boat would, if needed, attach a line to the hull in the air and pull it down.  It only had one outboard.

There was a  carbon jet drive boat with divers aboard to retrieve sailors out of the water safely so the prop would not be an issue.  In addtion to the R boats, there was a medical boat (M flag), the 4-5 press boats (P flags), all the teams had at least one support boat out on the water.  Also out there was the Committee boat and two TV boats on their catamaran amas, screaming around the course getting good footage.  Boats, boats, boats....

TV catamaran with San Diego and the Midway poking out.

Add to this the four local sailboats, called stake boats, flying large flags anchored on the four corners of the course limits.  Locals could not impinge on this area without being pulled over by the gendarmes.

Race Committee Boat with flag mast and big timer.

The newest AC boat showed up at the end of the regatta and it has a linked GPS auto hover with twin rotating (360d) stern drives that tie into a computer and keep it on station.  This and probably others like it will be in place for the Naples event.  It looks to be big enough to be the new committee boat.  Naples will tell in April 7-12, 2012.

New GPS based hovering design for the ACWS mark boats.

In terms of a great boats, one must mention the carrier Midway, which happens to be a great museum on San Diego waterfront.  Budget two hours and $18 pp to take it all in.  For the ACWS the front of the flight deck was rented out for the 45 Club which allowed access to the public for a price.  For most of the days the price was $200 pp and may have gotten you out on the course in a VIP boat for an hour or so and then access to a very posh tent with a monster TV set up inside and one of the best views of the entire course from about 50' above the water.  There were two other active carriers across the San Diego Bay and that US Navy presence was huge!  They had cordoned off water with a submarine net with several patrol boats keeping locals away from the fleet.

When President Obama flew in from Miramar for Veteran's Day to watch the college basketball event on the flight deck, all the AC helicopters were grounded and racing terminated.  We know who the big dog is in this bay.

There were super yachts but the largest was Larry Ellison's Zensi, at 160'.  A gorgeous ketch that lit up at night but was not too shabby during the day either.  Bruno Trouble had his 80-100' powerboat out too.

Seems only fair to throw in a great shot of the stars of the show.  Team Korea with Chris Draper at the helm dueling with Oracle #4 with Jimmy Spithill driving.
If you take a look under the Oracle boat on the right of the photo in the shot above, you will see a blonde girl, Mieke Schomaker , an on the water umpire (505 World Champion), driving a 60 mph, 300 HP intercooled, black and white striped PWC (Personal Water Craft).  It turns out she was a dedicated 505 racer turned into a waterjet jockey keeping an eye on these racers, up close and personal.  Her com-padre was a Navy Seal, Mike Martin, who was taught the yachting rules as he was more than capable of getting into the action and out of the way, when needed to officiate.  In a press conference, Ian Murray said it was easier to teach the rules of racing to the Seals than it was to teach the umpires how to ride the PWCs in close quarters.

The Energy Team zipping down the luff tube for the jib.  Other
45s had hanks around the forestay.  One of the few things the
teams could change on the one design AC45s.

An odd boat will be instantly recognizable to the Sailing Anarchy readers.  I noticed it during my ride on the Energy Team 45 and got a photo of same.

Da Woody with Artemis in the background.

One of the most most remarkable boats was the schooner America, built in 1998 for about $4 million.  This is a replica of the original America which won the original race by miles and for which the America's Cup is named.  Captain Troy and the ACEA (America's Cup Event Authority) generously took the media out for a sunset cruise on San Diego Bay.  This is a very remarkable boat.

Foredeck of America under sail.

Mainsail going up.  Note lazy jacks and hoops for the luff.
America took out paying passengers each day.  Captain Troy (owner) had a very deft hand going in and out
of the AC45 mooring area, having to dodge5-6 of the $million dollar race boats on moorings.
A fun photo of America and Midway.  Both top of the game
in their eras and genre.

Are we having fun yet?

So many boats, so little time.  All are fun to watch! "Nothing is so much fun as simply messing about in boats!"
Wind in the Willows.

Good photos by John Papajani, others by Count Ferrai

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