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AmericaOne San Pedro Chronicles:
AmericaOne Hull and Spar Design and Materials

SAN PEDRO, CA - August 23, 1999 - Training has started in Long Beach 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 23, 1999

My last Daily Report covered, in general terms, the importance of sail design and construction to AmericaOne, and the commitment of our sail-making team. Clearly this element of the overall effort is critical. Equally important, however, are the hull and spars (mast, boom, spinnaker pole, etc) which these sails are designed to propel.

Literally years of research and development effort have been put into the final design of AmericaOne's boats (USA 49, which has been sailing in Long Beach for two months, and USA 61, which is now under construction). The diverse design team, lead by Bruce Nelson, began by running computer simulations of potential designs using finite element analysis, a technique which allows complex fluid flows and loads to be broken down into understandable chunks. Determining the flow of water around different parts of the hull is similar, for instance, to trying to understand the flow of cars on a freeway. The question is, "how would acceleration of the green Escort in the right lane affect the red Probe in the left lane 1.5 kilometers back?" The direct answer to this question is not simple, but understanding how the Escort's change in speed might affect the Econoline van directly following it can be modeled. Likewise, we can predict the affect the Econoline would have on the Aerostar in the next lane, and so on until we reached the Probe. In the same way, Bruce's team analyzed the effect of each element of water and air passing the hull and spars, and all of the associated loads, on the next elements. This process required the power of Hewlett-Packard high performance servers to efficiently analyze the millions of necessary equations to predict flows around the many potential hulls and spars considered by Bruce's team.

The most promising designs were further tested by building one-third scale models that were towed in testing tanks and mounted in wind tunnels to ensure actual water resistance and responses to wind and waves were as predicted by the computer models. Only when the design team was sure it had the fastest overall design possible did construction begin_and oh what an art I've found that to be!

Material selection for every component is done carefully to ensure sufficient strength while minimizing weight. The most prominent material in AmericaOne's boats is carbon fiber. I think of the hulls as "carbon on the outside, carbon on the inside, and magic in the middle." While most boats are constructed of relatively heavy wood or fiberglass, often with significant internal structural members (such as ribs and bulkheads) to add strength, these boats are feather-light and almost hollow. For those who have never seen the inside of an America's Cup boat, rest assured that there is NO investment made in creature comforts below decks_in fact, the only asset which paint would provide is cosmetic so the "sewer" is left black as a cave.

Everyone involved in the addition of parts to the hull is well versed in the available materials and their characteristics. Myriad plastics, fibers, resins, and alloys of aluminum, steel, and titanium are considered prior to the addition of parts that might be heavier than necessary. In addition, the sail-making team often injects creative solutions employing the materials and equipment available in the loft. To put in perspective AmericaOne's accomplishments, consider the fact that the spinnaker pole (40 feet long, 1 foot in diameter, and capable of handling incredible loads) can be easily lifted by one person.

The entire design, material specification, and construction process requires a lot of patience. It is not until a boat is put in the water, loaded up, and sailed in a variety of conditions can success really be judged. Having sailed on USA 49, and knowing that the design team had even more time and information to achieve perfection with USA 61, I'm placing my bets on AmericaOne to "Bring It Back!"

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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For additional information on AmericaOne, contact:

Gina von Esmarch
E-mail: gvonesmarch@americaone.org
Phone: 415-474-3425
Fax: 415-474-3571


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