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post #14 of Old 01-22-2012
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First, you replace your turnbuckles with electrohydraulic actuators and strain gauges. Then you have your sails bar coded, which is not as bad as it seems since the bar arrays are only located in a couple of dozen discrete positions. Now we add eight cameras (typically) to monitor the sail shape (like a facial recognition system) and a small computer system to control the actuators. The entire rig is then dynamically tuned under load, to keep all the rigging within design parameters for tension but also to optimize the sail shape.
Of course the professional version requires installing computer controlled winches as well, and tension guages on all halyards and sheets, so that the sails can also be properly tensioned. It's really all old technology, just never made mass market because, well, even at today's cheap hardware prices most recreational sailors can't afford it.

Back on the other planet...
Yeah, even 30 years ago you'd find J/24 sailors retuning their rigs before every race to match the expected wind conditions. Mast rake, tension, they'd have a little card and change everything just a little bit to match the expected wind range. But on cruising boats with "ain't-gonna-bendy-me" masts? Nuh-uh. Kinda sounds like the riggers have found a way to finesse the ultimate in rig tuning--and book a *hitload more billable hours in the process. The kind of stuff that a local rock start from the local sailing loft used to do for free when you bought new sails.
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