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post #1 of 7 Old 12-13-2006 Thread Starter
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Something Fishy

I have been following the Arc, the Route Du Rhum Race, and now the Velux Oceans Race and I have come to realize that there appears to be more incidents of dis-masting, striking submerged objects, losing rudders, and more weather related storms than ever. My thinking on this, tends to lead me to believe that the equipment, boats hardware, sails are not as strong or as good a design as some of the more older boats and equipment. Now I know that this is not necessarily true but I have to wonder about what's happening? What do you think?
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post #2 of 7 Old 12-13-2006
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Ron, what happens is that in order to save weight, there is more and more use of composite materials. However, these being very strong materials depend heavily on good engineering to work, (ie where to reinforce, how to layer the cloth etc.). The problem here is that once a race is announced, all the teams race towards newer lighter material. As each team come up with latest designs and better solutions and techniques, the other teams respond by modifying their gear. The problem is that sometimes, the time allowed to perform R&D is very little, as they keep coming up with new things.

So mainly, as we could see during the Volvo, most of the R&D was made "in race". That's why so many failures. No time to test, and when tested, it was outdated.

Also, hiiting objects has allways been a problem. The only problem now is that the speeds are much greater, the routes are more direct due to improved boat performances, and the gear is much much weaker.

Before they still hit things, but very rarely it affected boat performance.

Look how many Volvos had canting keep problems (at least 3), The Spanish one came off!!!

As for the storms, before we didn't have the internet and all the online following tools. Sometimes they didn't even reported the storms. Its like televised war, now war has taken a more serious tone, because we see it. (poor analogy).
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post #3 of 7 Old 12-13-2006
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As G said about the Internet and storms, I think it's the same with the races themselves, to some extent. Also, they keep pushing the technology envelope in different directions, rather than refining what already works. Add in the money, the speeds, and high profile of a lot of the sailors involved, and it all becomes more noteworthy.

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post #4 of 7 Old 12-13-2006
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Interesting question Ronbye.
I think that there are a couple of things at work here...
1. For the all out race boats there is a constant effort to make the boats lighter and faster that results in designs that use new materials and methods of building AND provides just enough theoretical strength for the conditions expected. The ocean and wind can combine to dis-prove theories as you have noted! ...But sometimes progress comes from the failures as well.

2. For the cruising rallies...I think the advances in electronics and the ability for shorthanded crews to handle larger boats have open end up cruising to those who have not gained the seamanship to properly plan and prepare for such voyages. Many are sailing on boats that are just not built or prepared for the conditions they may face and the rallies provide them with a sense of security that dissolves when they run into their first gale and stuff starts breaking.
I had a friend a few years back on the Annapolis to Bermuda race that lost his backstay in 30 knots just outside of Norfolk. Mast came down and he limped back into port and spent the summer making repairs and waiting for a new mast. Why did the mast come down?? Corrosion on the back stay fitting...but really because he was over confident and did not check the basics beofre leaving.
I think SOME boats are built better than ever as their manufacturers take advantage of REAL advances in technology and apply them intelligently...but you are correct in saying that a bunch of them are not as well put together as many older boats.
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post #5 of 7 Old 12-13-2006
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There is an adage in racing that goes something like; if you didn't break it, it's too heavy.
Following the kookiness of automobile racing we have seen a trend towards high powered surf boards with flashes of sanity intruding, such as Fastnet. The governing bodies are the only ones who can control this and often seem to allow the window to be pushed a little too wide open, and then the deep pockets necessary for this type of racing run rampant.
It is interesting to compare those greyhounds of the clipper ship era to current racing practise. Fast was desirable, even paramount, but of no use if you didn't get the cargo home. With that in mind, how much cargo of gold or diamond would each of these modern day greyhounds have to carry to make seaworthiness an equal factor to speed? I don't think a mere million dollars would be enough. If each hull had 5 million and it was winner take all, would that be enough? Pick a number that would get attention-let the bidding begin.
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post #6 of 7 Old 12-14-2006
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Race boats are built right to the edge and when you do that on anything, it is hard to define exactly where the edge is. The winner is the boat that goes to the edge without going over, ( kind of like The Price is Right).
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post #7 of 7 Old 12-16-2006
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It's those tree-huggers!
More and more boats are hitting "submerged objects" because there are too many whales. They're obviously becoming like deer on the roads, and need thinning out so that the oceans can be safe to sail upon once more.
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