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Sailing Daily NewsPage
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Published Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday

20 December 1999

Issue # 113

A look at two boat testing

The phrase two boat testing has been a popular one.  It has been put forward as a major reason that the two boat teams will have an advantage.  By having two boats teams can optimize boats to make them faster.

The method of two boat testing is as follows.  One boat's configuration is not changed.  This serves as a benchmark.  Then the other boat is changed and the team can see if changes are faster.  In the case of America One, they are leaving USA 49 in racing trim in which she raced round 3.   Their new boat USA 61 can then be changed and optimized.  It is likely that the tuned and tweaked USA 61 will be America One's semi finals weapon.

In some cases it seems that teams with two boats have had little time to actually get on the water and test.  It would seem that this lack of time would hit two boat testing hard.  

However, a look at how one team, America One, does its testing shows that technology helps speed up the process.

On a typical day America One launches their boats (USA 49&61) at 0800.  By 0930 they are off the dock and under tow.

Once out on the water testing begins.  America One conducts both upwind and down wind tests.  For an upwind test the boats line up 150 to 200 meters apart, with the leeward boat ahead.  Tests are 8 minutes in duration.  During the test difference in range and bearing is measured.

Downwind testing is similar.  The formation of the boats is influenced by the type of sail (asymmetrical or symmetrical spinnaker) being tested.

America One aims to complete 20 or more tests each day.  A typical sailing day during testing is 6 hours.

Often times testing can be a hard nut to crack.  Collecting sufficient data to properly assign cause and affect can be difficult.  This is one reason why the value of testing can be questioned.

In the case of America One they have a system to collect data.  Both USA 49 and USA 61 have telemetry transmitters from Visteon.  These units send 50 variables to the teams tender.  Data is transmitted by encrypted UHF radio waves.  This assures that the data is "stable, reliable and private." 

The data that is generated by the boats is then crunched on the tender.  While still on the water America One analysts can produce in seconds per mile.  No waiting for data! 

America One returns to the dock by 1800.  The end result of these tests is more boatspeed.   It's not likely to come in the form of a truly radical breakthrough, but rather in the form of further optimizing the boat.  As close as the racing has been the best testing program could be the edge in this Cup.


Much of the Information from this story from the America One Website