AmericaOne San Pedro Chronicles:
Science, Artistry and Dedication Combine to Produce AmericaOne Sails
SAN PEDRO, CA - August 16, 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 16, 1999
I'll never forget my first "real" boat. It was an El Toro, a little 8-foot dinghy, which proudly sported hull number 184 (while its competition at the time was already using sail numbers over 10,000). For me, this gift was a huge step up from the many Styrofoam, broomstick, and bed sheet creations I had fabricated only to find they navigated better upside down than right side up. The only similarity between my early designs and my "new" craft was the sail. My El Toro sported a cotton foil fabricated with over 20 six-inch panels. Though it clearly propelled the boat better than a flat sheet had assisted my rafts, it was dark brown with age and quickly lost its aerodynamic shape as the winds rose and the cotton stretched.
The contribution which sails can make to the speed of a boat was graphically demonstrated to me when my parents invested in a shapely, beautifully-white Dacron main 25 years ago. At the time, however, I was not aware of all of the challenges faced by sail design and fabrication teams. The goal: design and build a sail which will propel the boat to its maximum potential speed ... and oh, by the way, the sail should maintain its perfect shape over a wide range of wind and sea conditions, be flexible enough to be packed into a bag which is always too small, be durable enough to handle whipping by the wind and manhandling by the crew, cost little, and weigh nothing.
AmericaOne mainsails and jibs are made with a combination of materials including Mylar, Kevlar, and carbon using a manufacturing process known as 3DL (3 Dimensional Lay-up). A full-size mold is made of the ideal sail onto which the specified carbon and Kevlar fibers are stretched in the patterns most optimal to handle the anticipated loads. A Mylar skin is applied to both sides of the sail to hold the fibers in their desired locations. When the sail is popped off of the mold, the sail team finishes it by adding fittings, pockets for each of the stiff carbon-fiber battens, and reinforcing patches in areas which will receive extraordinary beating. In addition to achieving all of the goals mentioned above, this process generates really beautiful shapes and patterns not marred by seams ... but, ironically the sails are about the color of my original brown cotton El Toro main.
AmericaOne spinnakers are constructed of light parachute-type materials that are sewn together, often with panels of different colors to create attractive patterns. America's Cup boats carry a variety of spinnakers, some "symmetrical" (on which, if we were not concerned about whether our sponsor logos faced outward or inward, we could swap the port and starboard clews with no adverse affects on the sail's shape), and some "assymmetrical" (which, similar to a jib, have three corners which are unique).
AmericaOne sail design and construction team members (Robert Hook, Craig Phillips, Ben Fletcher, Dave Jarvis and Aaron Jones) continue to impress me with their integration of art and science to conceive, build, and maintain an exceptional sail inventory. In addition, the hours (keep in mind that much of the sail work must be done when the boats are not out sailing ... in other words, at night) and hard manual labor (lugging around the sails which can weigh up to 250 pounds) demonstrate the devotion of yet another key part of the overall AmericaOne Team. I grow ever more confident that we will "Bring It Back!"
About The Challenge
AmericaOneis 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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