AmericaOne Quokka Chronicles:
No Surprises in Underbodies
by Larry Edwards , Quokka Sports
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Thursday, January 21, 2000 -
AmericaOne was the last of the four boats to drop its keel shroud today. But anyone looking for radical differences between the stealth-grey USA-61 and Prada's Luna Rossa (ITA-45) next door -- or the two New Zealand boats just down Halsey Street -- was disappointed.
"There were no surprises here," said AmericaOne principal designer Bruce Nelson. "It's pretty much what we expected."
He was most interested in Luna Rossa, which AmericaOne will meet in the best-five-of-nine Louis Vuitton Cup final beginning Tuesday, 25 January. While there are distinct differences between the boats, they are subtle, he said.
"In design parameters, we're probably closer to Prada than any of the other boats here," he said. "There are subtle differences in the hull, keel and rudder, primarily in the volume distribution in the hull and the shape of the keel bulb."
Both have cigar-shaped keel bulbs with wide, drooping winglets at the aft end. To the untrained eye, they look quite similar, but the Prada bulb is slightly shorter and fatter.
"The Prada appendages look very much like the development of the TNZ appendages from 1995. Clearly they have similar lineage there," he added.
Which was no surprise either. Doug Peterson, Prada's principal designer, was also one of the designers of New Zealand's 1995 America's Cup winner Black Magic.
Both Nelson and Peterson appraised their boats as good all-round performers in the range of conditions expected, and predicted that they will be very close in speed. But Nelson said AmericaOne needs only the slight difference of two seconds per mile to make a big difference in the outcome.
Keel winglets improve upwind performance, providing greater lift, but also increase the wetted surface area and slow the boat down when sailing off the wind. Their size and shape are one of the trade-offs designers have to make. But subtle changes may mean the difference between winning and losing boat races.
"Two seconds per mile is one boat length per leg," Nelson said. That translates to six boat lengths over the 18.5-mile racecourse, or roughly 36 seconds. In the last semifinal race between the two finalists, AmericaOne won by just eight seconds.
Although Team New Zealand unveiled the keels on its two boats, most experts didn't think either of the keels would be on the boat that races for the Cup.
"The New Zealand boats have distinctly different bow forms and different volume distribution in the after body," Nelson said. "It will be interesting to see how that shape performs against these shapes.
"The appendages we saw at Team New Zealand today may not be what we see them racing with later on, so it's too early to say much there," he added.
Yacht designer David Pedrick agreed. "Seeing these keels makes me wonder what they're really going to use," he said.
Laurie Davidson, principal designer for Team New Zealand, liked what he saw of AmericaOne. "It has a nice, sweet-looking shape."
AmericaOne skipper Paul Cayard agrees and acknowledged its reputation for quick acceleration. But he thinks the crew deserves some of the credit, too.
"I'm not sure it's all in the design," he said. "It also depends on the crew and how well it's sailed."
Cayard said his veteran crew is taking a low-key approach to the coming races against Prada.
"We're not pushing too hard," he said. "We're together and the semifinals were good for us.
"We've all been in these big races before. A high percentage of our team has been in big races," he added. "We're looking forward to these last 10 wins we gotta get." Needless to say, 10 more wins would earn Cayard and AmericaOne the America's Cup trophy.
AmericaOne will be doing race drills tomorrow and Monday, but will be taking Sunday off.
Under the rules of the America's Cup Protocol, the challenger boats can't be modified again until the final round is over, nor can they place shrouds around the appendages. The rule also applies to the two New Zealand boats, with the caveat that the Kiwis may change the appendages and begin shrouding their boats on February 1 if the challengers are still racing.
For full story go to: www.americascup.org
For additional information on AmericaOne, contact:
Gina von Esmarch
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