How Do We Know What We Know ?

By Kimball Livingston, in Valencia

It was Ken MacAlpine day in Valencia, with the chief measurer of the AC class taking questions that grew out of the “deflecting keel” buzz. There’s a lot of smoke, but not much heat.

The speculation has been that Alinghi (and/or others not excluding BMW Oracle) might be trying to use any of various means to control what I’ll call keel sag—these keel struts are long, and the bulbs are heavy—and perhaps to counteract it in such a way as to increase stability. Or perhaps several design teams have been sniffing at the options. The question and interpretation are made public, but the team remains anonymous.

MacAlpine said, “I think the team that asked the questions was looking to see how far they could push it. And no, I don’t think there’s a loophole.”

If you just like sailing, and you really don’t care what goes on inside the America’s Cup Beltway, bail out now, and go with my blessings. Better yet, go sailing.

It may be that one of the gurus heard something I didn’t, but it certainly sounded to me as if MacAlpine was stomping on the speculation. He said:

“Fixed means fixed. We believe the words are clear. There is no legal way that a keel can be induced to weather except through hydrodynamics.”

That is, if you can make the passing water do it, OK. If it takes a device, no way.

To a question from the floor as to whether mast and keel could be linked, the response was, “No.”

Is there any part of “No” that you don’t understand?

MacAlpine added, “This was an extraordinarily complex set of questions, the most complex we have ever seen, and they had to be considered one by one. But we believe the rule is watertight without the interpretation. The terms of the ACC rule pretty well exclude everything from moving except the rudder and a trim tab. The rule specifically outlaws any device that changes the shape of the boat.”

Could somebody be hiding something?

“The measurers have looked at the insides of all these boats. It there was any linkage it would be obvious. And you cannot use lateral movement of the mast to affect the keel.”

To every probing, insinuating inquiry from the floor, the MacAlpine formula was, “Read the interpretation.”

You really don’t have to, unless you’re into this kind of thing, but you can find Public Interpretation 22 right here. It’s the one about keels and deflections.

And you can find Public Interpretation 23 right here. It has to do with lateral movements of the base of the mast, either active or passive, resulting in a mast “not in its normal position for sailing” but presumably at an advantageous angle as a result. Unless I’m in need of remedial English, I believe that got squashed too.

I’ve heard it alleged that all things must pass. Ivo Rovira took this lovely photo of SUI 100 en route from Switzerland to Spain. That time has passed, and come June, so will the rain and the calms. Please?

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