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America One San Pedro Chronicles:
Which Way Did He Go?

SAN PEDRO, CA - August 3, 1999 - Training has started in San Pedro and will continue until the end of August. For daily reports on activities ashore and afloat, visit this site daily for news, commentary and photographs.

Daily Report, August 3, 1999

AmericaOne Performance Analysis and Navigation

It's hard for me to believe that two weeks have already passed since I had the opportunity to share with you the "professional obsession" of the AmericaOne team (July 15, 1999). As we've been working an intense seven-day-per-week schedule, I've really lost track of time. Another member of the team recently revealed to me his method of remaining oriented, "the employees in my favorite coffee shop wear Hawaiian shirts on Friday mornings!" I guess the fact that I don't drink coffee does have a down side!

For my second contribution to this forum, I've decided to share what I believe to be one of the most interesting and critical technological aspects of the America's Cup, performance analysis and navigation.

For as long as man has sailed, he has raced. Early on, this was required for the winning of sea battles, discovering new worlds, and facilitating trade. Although the early instruments of navigation were crude, the tracking of location, direction, and speed toward an objective were nonetheless critical. Some of the early tools included a sextant, to determine location relative to the stars; a compass, to determine the direction of travel; and a knotted line which, when paid out over the stern and timed, could be used to determine speed (thus, the origin of the current nautical speed term "knot"). While these tools were effective, they were largely difficult to use accurately and consistently.

Determining how best to navigate an America's Cup course, and detecting and analyzing small changes in boat performance, wind, and tide conditions, require instantaneous and accurate assessments of all elements of location and performance. While the compass remains an element of the navigational arsenal, the knotted line has been replaced by a small ultrasonic speed sensor on the bottom of the boat. A weather vane has been added to the top of the mast to monitor apparent wind speed and direction. Sensors to keep track of the positions of, and pressures on, many critical elements of the boat have been installed throughout. A Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver has been integrated to determine the boat's actual location, speed, and direction relative to the earth and to "correct" the data from the other instruments. And finally, the navigator carries a laser range-finding gun which provides instantaneous distance and magnetic bearing measurements to other boats, allowing a team to determine how two boats are performing relative to each other by watching for changes over time.

AmericaOne has assembled an impressive array of hardware, software, and personnel to make best use of the data provided by these instruments. Onboard instrumentation by Ockam processes and displays current performance as well as "target" boatspeeds which should be achievable in the prevailing conditions. The navigator, using an onboard waterproof laptop computer and a waterproof instrumentation controller, manages what information is displayed and what adjustments should be made to ensure that the crew transits the course as quickly as possible.

In the background, all information on boat performance is transmitted via Visteon telemetry equipment (most commonly used in race cars) to AmericaOne's 60 foot tender where scientists utilize Hewlett-Packard workstations to analyze it and provide immediate feedback to the sailors, boat designers, and sail makers. Watching the data stream in during our two-boat testing and being privy to the conclusions which can be drawn from it is exhilarating! During the America's Cup races, all crews must compete without any outside communication or assistance (and therefore the advantage of this remote, real-time feedback). Until then, AmericaOne will be taking full advantage of its performance analysis tools to prepare the sailing team to navigate the best boat on the course successfully and independently.

While I realize that this description is somewhat general, I hope our loyal readership will understand our need to balance the desire to keep you well informed with the necessary confidentiality of our competitive advantages.

Greg Felton
AmericaOneSailing Team

About The Challenge

AmericaOne is dedicated to recapturing the America’s Cup by applying U.S. technology in computer equipment, aerodynamics, hydrodynamics, sail design, naval architecture and structural engineering to America's Cup sailboat design. Technology partners include Hewlett-Packard Company, Bellcore/SAIC and Ford Motor Company/Visteon. The AmericaOne team is comprised of 43 professionals, including 30 members of the design team actively working on the research and design of its sailboats. Operating since June 1, 1996, AmericaOne is the challenger on behalf of San Francisco’s St. Francis Yacht Club.

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