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post #271 of Old 05-18-2013
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Re: Another America’s Cup entry destroyed

Originally Posted by Minnesail View Post
A thing to consider is that we want the cup to go the team with the best designed boat crewed by the best sailors, not to the team most willing to endanger the lives of their crew.

Racers will accept a much higher level of risk that the rest of us are comfortable with. That is part of what makes them racers.

A few years ago there was a CART race scheduled for the Texas Speedway, a course designed for slower NASCAR races. The highly banked corners allowed the CART cars to run full out all the way around the track, meaning they were pulling over 5 Gs for a lot of the course.

Every one of the drivers did a series of test laps. So every one of the drivers knew that they were nearing blackout, losing all peripheral vision and becoming disoriented. And they were all willing to race like that.

It was only when a doctor noticed that one of the drivers wasn't able to walk in a straight line for quite a while after his test laps that they started interviewing other drivers and learned of the danger.

The governing body decided this was a level of risk they could not take, and canceled the race just hours before race time. It cost them tens of millions.

The racers were willing to take the risk, they would have gladly driven into that bloodbath. And the winner wouldn't have been the best driver, the winner would have been the one lucky enough to not black out at the wrong time or to get hit by someone else who blacked out at the wrong time.

It wouldn't have been a contest of skill, it would have been televised Russian Roulette.

If it is the case that the Artemis boat broke up before it crashed, and if it is the case that this structural weakness is endemic to these boats, then we're basically watching a dice game, not a game of skill. You roll snake eyes and your boat cracks up. Next roller step up to the table, please.
Yeah, I was at that race... I'll never forget, I was up on the roof of the grandstand, must be the equivalent of 7-8 stories above the track, on Friday afternoon... I was kneeling down, changing film, when I heard the sickening thud of Mauricio Gugelmin's car hitting the inside wall exiting Turn 2... His car continued the full length of the back straight, and went into the outside wall in Turn 3 with an impact recorded at over 100 Gs, if memory serves... That brought a real pall over the paddock for the remainder of the weekend, everyone realized they were venturing into truly uncharted territory running at that track, and there were a lot of relieved people on Sunday morning when CART made the correct call to cancel the race...

Unfortunately, the memory of that weekend that lingers most clearly with me, was the spectacle of fans booing the teams as they loaded the cars back into the transporters, and driving out of the paddock that afternoon past drunken yahoos cursing anyone leaving the premises, in front of their motorhome draped with a hand lettered bedsheet signifying that "CART" stood for:

Cowards Aren't Racing Today...

Perhaps a better analogy to the fix the AC now finds itself in, is the farce that was the 2005 US Grand Prix at Indianapolis, when only 6 cars started the race after concerns over the safety of the Michelin tires forced the teams running on Michelins to withdraw from the race at the end of the formation lap... An attempted compromise to install a chicane to reduce the speeds through the final banked Turn 13 where the Michelins had failed during practice could not be agreed to, primarily due to the fact that Ferrari - running on Bridgestone tires which had exhibited no such problems - perceived they had a real advantage for the race, and refused to agree to such an accommodation...

I fear another similar situation might be brewing in San Francisco, where one or more teams may believe they have a real shot at winning (or retaining possession) of the Cup, an be resistant to any sort of compromise in the interest of greater safety of the competitors overall...

Last edited by JonEisberg; 05-18-2013 at 09:20 AM.
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