Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Pied Piper

Here's a short anecdote about Pied Piper from Getting Started In Sailboat Racing (ISBN: 0071424008), page 70:

"One of the best things about the phenomenon of apparent wind is, in some situations, it can be harnessed to generate a breeze where there seemingly is none. One day the Peterson 43 Pied Piper, for example, was sailing against two other Peterson 43s in a 30-mile port-to-port race on Lake Michigan that was almost directly downwind. For an hour after the start the three boats sailed side by side. Then the crew on Pied Piper decided to heat it up to a broad reach. It was light, blowing around 4 knots, but as the boat headed up the speed increased by nearly 2 knots. On the downside, this left the boat pointing about 15 degrees in the wrong direction. But once the boat was up to speed, the crew found it could slowly -- meaning about 2 degrees every 15 seconds -- bring the boat back down without losing what it had gained, thanks to its new apparent wind. A few minutes later the boat was actually sailing on its original course, but going 1.5 to 2 knots faster! Meanwhile, the other two boats were still barely moving. Later, after winning the race by over an hour, everyone had a great laugh about how lucky Pied Pier had been to catch that little sliver of air -- especially the crew that had caught the puff."


Larry Moran said...

A similar increase in apparent wind was a major reason that Australia II won the 7th and deciding race of the 1983 America's Cup. Standing to take photographs aboard the USCG vessel Cape Henlopen at the top mark, I watched in awe as Liberty's skipper Dennis Conner rounded the mark and headed almost dead downwind in light air. In spite of all sorts of local knowledge, the crew of Liberty (US40) seemed to disregard the major influence of wash created by the spectator fleet, especially in such light wind conditions. Australia II skipper John Bertrand reached away to the right side of the course, increasing speed and carrying him further from the effects of the sloppy seas created by the spectator fleet.

Liberty did little to cover Australia II and blew a seemingly insurmountable lead, given that boatspeed of the two yachts was so similar on similar points of sail.

When the wind died further, it left Liberty bobbing up and down in the waves, with sails slatting back and forth, while Australia II, with greater apparent wind and sailing in smaller waves reached ahead of Liberty to take the Cup away from the U.S. for the first time in history.

A lot of sailors continue to deny these facts, but they are almost exclusively Americans, biased, and wrong.

Nobody was sadder about our losing the Cup than I. It was a foolish error in judgment.

I doubt that Dick Jennings would have made a similar error. : )

Larry Moran said...

Larry Moran said...

Good luck to our friends in Hawaii and the Pacific Basin today as a tsunami approaches from Chile. I hope most of them are awake by now. This tsunami may prove serious. : (