Americas Cup foiled.

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Stephen Maddalena

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Mar 18, 2021, 3:06:30 PMMar 18
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Dear rowers,
having watched all the races of probably the most prestigious and elite sporting event in the world I was left feeling a bit disappointed by the whole affair.
It is undoubtedly an impressive achievement that foils, which can be deployed at will, mean that boats can travel three times the speed of the prevailing wind.
Such high tech. and investment of millions in any currency was thwarted at times by insufficient wind to supply lift off with foils jibs and mainsails of varying design. What seemed evident to me was the overwhelming importance of the sailors' choice of direction which could quickly add hundreds of metres of advantage as compared to the marginal differences between the high tech. on display.
As with any competition if the rules are fair and equal then you can have faith in the result. The Americas Cup left me unsure of the value of victory for either party. New Zealand and Italy both competed to excellent standards but left me thinking that sailing is more confused than upgraded by foils.
A good clinker built hull well varnished does it for me.
Steve.

sully

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Mar 18, 2021, 4:02:27 PMMar 18
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I'm ignorant about sailing and the technology of foils, but seems to me even in hulled sailing races, choices of direction is a critical part of sailing competition, choosing a line that is longer in order to grab a gust. Also, I would imagine that in spite of the massive amount of expertise purchased into these crews that there's still a massive learning curve ahead of them, part of which is likely unlearning what they mastered with hulled craft.

I was reading Fairbairn the other night and it's interesting that long after seats and tracks were becoming standard in most racing shells, coaches still struggled with how to use them. What intrigued me was how the body of coaches rejected the idea of longer tracks therefore using more leg compression for a number of reasons, part of which was the standards of rowing technique based on using the legs but in a very short slide length (greased leathers on flat board, no wheeled seats or tracks). Fairbairn is a difficult read, hard to get to his analysis in the paragraphs of self-congratulations.. What I gathered was that there was a standard track length that allowed one to use full body swing and shoulder extension and that longer slide travel inhibited this.

I couldn't find anything but I would bet that someone set up wheeled seats and tried to use them before using tracks. This would add a complication to technique (seat goes a astray) that might undo any advantage.

(ha ha, brought thread to rowing!!) :^)

In my time, we went through a technique revolution, from the quasi-Conibear style here in the US to the modern style as sold by Karl Adam in clinics, books, and film in the late 60s early 70s. Wow, did we ever misinterpret some things!!! The technology changes were somewhat dramatic but certainly not radical, blade shapes, lengths, track lengths, spreads and workloads, but nothing as extreme as revolutions in the past.





Andy McKenzie

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Mar 19, 2021, 6:08:30 AMMar 19
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'Boating' by W.B. Woodgate, (i have the second edition published in 1889) devotes a whole chapter to sliding seats. I hadn't realised how short slides were in that era. In one part he discusses the problems of the blade clearing knees on a 4 inch slide. He suggests that beginners should use a 3 inch slide, and then, with progressive skill graduate to a really long slide - maybe even going up as far as 11 inches for a really expert oarsman! Admittedly he then contradicts himself in describing 'ideal' dimensions for a modern boat as having a slide around 16 inches long.

Jake Frith

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Mar 26, 2021, 9:58:56 AMMar 26
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I think real gamechanging developments such as the sliding seat in rowing require significant physiological and technique changes in the athletes to be fully realized. That is to say it became much more of a quadriceps sport with the sliding seat. So a very experienced 1860s rower used to developing maximum power with lots of layback and back, arms etc. on a fixed seat, would not see a huge, dramatic improvement rowing in a similar way on slides. He would not have the right build or technique. Such big changes require an interested athlete to go away, have faith and practice with the new technology for many months, take the hit of temporarily worse results for a while and perhaps forever if the technology turns out to be a dead end (no small matter when for many of them, thier livelihood still depended on results). And that's not to mention the time investment in growing a decent pair of quads- especially in those days when they didn't yet do any weight training and often had a crappy diet. That's the reason why, in my (unqualified) opinion it took the now clearly better technology so many decades to actually take over the sport.

To bring it back to the OP subject matter, the Americas Cup boats always had upper body only winch pedestals for the grinders (sometimes, I digress further, employing former rowers- such as former M1X champion Rob Wadell who was a grinder on several NZ boats in the 90s) The technology existed to use bikes instead, the rules allowed it in the last Cup and everyone knows legs are stronger than arms but I understand it took a surprisingly long time to change the grinders from olympic arm wrestlers to olympic cyclists, and only then were the more best of the benefits realised. Not all of the teams even went for it. Now they would all use the grinders' legs (cyclors) rather than upper body whenever the rules allow it- which they didn't allow this time around. Interestingly the rule setters argued they had been disallowed due to capsize safety (clipless pedals), but in a well publicised pitchpole capsize the 4 cyclists all flew out and all the other crew stayed in!

sully

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Mar 26, 2021, 3:19:11 PMMar 26
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On Friday, March 26, 2021 at 6:58:56 AM UTC-7, frit...@googlemail.com wrote:
> I think real gamechanging developments such as the sliding seat in rowing require significant physiological and technique changes in the athletes to be fully realized. That is to say it became much more of a quadriceps sport with the sliding seat. So a very experienced 1860s rower used to developing maximum power with lots of layback and back, arms etc. on a fixed seat, would not see a huge, dramatic improvement rowing in a similar way on slides. He would not have the right build or technique. Such big changes require an interested athlete to go away, have faith and practice with the new technology for many months, take the hit of temporarily worse results for a while and perhaps forever if the technology turns out to be a dead end (no small matter when for many of them, thier livelihood still depended on results). And that's not to mention the time investment in growing a decent pair of quads- especially in those days when they didn't yet do any weight training and often had a crappy diet. That's the reason why, in my (unqualified) opinion it took the now clearly better technology so many decades to actually take over the sport.
>
> To bring it back to the OP subject matter, the Americas Cup boats always had upper body only winch pedestals for the grinders (sometimes, I digress further, employing former rowers- such as former M1X champion Rob Wadell who was a grinder on several NZ boats in the 90s) The technology existed to use bikes instead, the rules allowed it in the last Cup and everyone knows legs are stronger than arms but I understand it took a surprisingly long time to change the grinders from olympic arm wrestlers to olympic cyclists, and only then were the more best of the benefits realised. Not all of the teams even went for it. Now they would all use the grinders' legs (cyclors) rather than upper body whenever the rules allow it- which they didn't allow this time around. Interestingly the rule setters argued they had been disallowed due to capsize safety (clipless pedals), but in a well publicised pitchpole capsize the 4 cyclists all flew out and all the other crew stayed in!


To be fair, a number of rowers went the America's cup route before Wadell and cycling winches.

The most notable was Conn Findlay who was grinder on the Courageous, America's cup winner skippered by Dennis Conner.

As far as slide rowing technique, the tracks made an immediate improvement in boat speeds according to what I read, but my point was that the transformation from more upper body oriented power application was made slower by the orthodoxy of coaching, and not necessarily the strengths of the athletes involved. When Fairbairn switched to longer tracks (adding sometimes ten inches or more to the standard 16 inch track, his crews made dramatic improvements - just ask him! :^)



Mark Liddell

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Apr 15, 2021, 7:27:28 PMApr 15
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On Thursday, 18 March 2021 at 20:02:27 UTC, sully wrote:
> I'm ignorant about sailing and the technology of foils, but seems to me even in hulled sailing races, choices of direction is a critical part of sailing competition, choosing a line that is longer in order to grab a gust.

Indeed. For fast boats (foils or not) and the courses they usually sail on (windward, leeward) mean that at almost no time do they spend their time point towards the direction they are trying to get to which is just another reason why it is a terrible spectator sport. The name of the game is VMG (velocity made good).

Andy McKenzie

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Apr 16, 2021, 9:21:16 AMApr 16
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So my excuse is that if my path up the river is a nice wobbly S, I get longer outings, get more distance between locks, and a better workout.

sully

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Apr 17, 2021, 3:24:54 PMApr 17
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This is something our sport could learn from America's Cup. The TV coverage of the San Francisco competition some years ago was incredible, intelligent, compelling, exciting, and within the reach of a casual fan like me.

The only sport more boring to watch than rowing is sailing, and the coverage made it one of the better sporting events to watch.

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