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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Beamed Up

First A Cat prototype platform is now in one piece.
Stay tuned for more...

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Digital Age

The first batch of our new Swing Rig Blocks. They come in three different 'flavours' to accommodate different main boom angles for different clew heights between suits.

As our regular followers know, we are always passionate about sharing lessons learned in development and explaining evolving methodologies.

For Katana we engineered and prototyped moulds for making integrated main and jib booms over a short length of 14mm ID carbon tube. The booms were then cut out of foam sandwich such that the core was in the vertical plane. The skins captured the piece of tube which effectively replaced, and created a bulge in, the core around the intersection with the mast. The 14mm ID tube that formed part of the boom/yard moulding would then be bonded to the outside of the mast tube.

Even with well thought out moulds this would have been a relatively labour-intensive approach. The result had good structural efficiency in the boom section but required considerable reinforcement around the junction area, offsetting most of the gains. Windage was marginally higher but the deck sealing effect could be maximised as the booms could be cut to exactly follow the foot droop permitted in the rule.

So we revisited an old solution that seems to have been abandoned due to an irrational preference for the latest material over an objective analysis of suitability for the application.
The difference today is that CNC milling allows exact replicability without expensive fixtures.
Most importantly, the penalty for adding complexity is considerably less than for manual processes (including laminating carbon fibre).

After several iterations, our late stage prototypes use aluminium in the high stress junction area where it is desirable to react the forces on the boom and yard over the shortest possible vertical distance to keep the mainsail tack close to the deck.
Carbon tube is used for the boom and yard as this provides an excellent compromise between stiffness, windage, ease of assembly, and cost.
Being machine laminated, tube has good consistency and, being round, it allows efficient attachments and adjustment systems.

Previous similar blocks by other manufacturers did not incorporate angled main boom connections so the boom was usually either made from bent aluminium (heavy and flexible) or required an elbow somewhere along its length (structurally inefficient).
With the correct angle machined in, efficient straight booms (cylindrical or tapered) can be used.

FEA allowed us to take as much weight as possible out of the part and hard anodising ensures good resistance against corrosion. Different colours are also possible.

Stay tuned to see the parts at work on our Katana test boats.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Paired Up

First set of A Cat prototype hulls structurally complete. More detailed info about construction choices will follow soon.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Rule Driven

I prepared this diagram for the last installment of the series on foils to be published in Australian Sailing + Yachting Magazine. It illustrates a great example of how rule spaces drive solutions that may differ to address the same problem.

This a seminal time in the development of dynamically stable foiling systems.
Since the limits of foil assisted sailing are now regularly being reached, their inherent limitation (inability for lift to exceed displacement) must be overcome to unlock greater performance.

Given that constant radius ‘C’ foils on multihulls cannot be stable in ride height because their dihedral angle increases with altitude, the race is on to invent a multihull foil configuration that is stable, fits inside conventional beam dimensions, and works without adding complexity.

One solution will be unveiled on our new A Class currently in the final stages ofconstruction. Another much discussed solution has been tested recently and spectacularly on the first ETNZ AC72.


Returning to the initial point about the effects of rule peculiarities, the AC72 rule seeks to restrict the major speed producing factors to keep racing close.
Length, beam, displacement and sail area (wing height, girths and sail corner points) are controlled so that the key ratios are precisely similar between boats.
By restricting beam and displacement, righting moment is fixed, equalising the loads that determine the sizing of stays, fittings and sail handling gear.
When formulating the rule, one concern was the possible use of the windward foil to generate downward lift to augment righting moment. 
It was deemed desirable to discourage an arms race in the pursuit of additional righting moment. However no satisfactory wording could be agreed that would have the desired effect without requiring physical measurements of actual foil force. 
The argument was that, with variations in pitch and heel, scrutineers could never be certain that a foil did not, at some time, generate some downward lift. 
My thoughts at the time turned to past experiences such as the ‘Hula’ of TNZ and the double rod rigging loophole in the 2003 AC cycle (in both cases proving that two elements did not touch when in use opened a proverbial can of worms). 
I therefore voted (in my capacity as a Challenger representative at the time), for mandating that the windward board be raised during straight line sailing. 
This in turn required definitions for circumstances such as tacking and jibing, but such provisions would be reflected in the racing rules, and seemed relatively simple to enforce on the water.

Closed Door

An unintended consequence of this rule is that, since the windward foil is not in the water, it cannot be set to increase sideforce. This counter intuitive arrangement is used by 'tripod' foilers such as the Hydroptere: by setting the windward foil with ‘toe-in’ such that it pulls up and to leeward, sideforce is increased. This forces the leeward board to produce a greater hydrodynamic reaction force compared to what it would when just working against sail force.
Since vertical lift is a component of foil force and is therefore tied to sideforce by dihedral angle, if sideforce is below a critical value, foil force cannot exceed boat mass without adding sideforce artificially.
If vertical lift cannot be made to exceed the value given by the component of sideforce determined by dihedral angle, a single angled or curved foil cannot support the mass of the boat except at very high speed and sideforce values.

Forces on Hydroptere tripod configuration when sideforce is small - so vertical component is less than displacement
And at high speed/sail force/sideforce. Both possibilities are precluded in the AC72 Rule

So any foiling solution for an AC72 must rely on surfaces at or near the leeward hull. 
The windward rudder can contribute but stability should remain positive when it clears the water at moderate heel angles.


The ETNZ solution appears at first glance to use an ‘L’ foil with the vertical part pulling sideways and the horizontal part lifting upward. This is indeed the case in upwind mode where boatspeed is still in the foil assisted range and speed control is relatively easy, so stability in ride height is not an issue.

However the tight inflected bend in the top part of the foils makes them cant inward when partially retracted. 
Partial retraction is desirable for downwind sailing because speeds are higher and sideforce is a smaller component of total sail force so less lateral foil area is required to limit leeway.

The key is that, as the foils ‘kick in’, the horizontal portion of the L rotates such that the tip (inboard) is higher than the root (outboard). 
As ride height increases and vertical foil area diminishes due to the top portion clearing the surface, initially leeway increases. 
This reduces the AoA on the kicked up L tip, reducing lift and allowing ride height to settle. 

Elegant and effective if specialised. 

The stable regime is narrow but can be tweaked by adjusting foil rake and dihedral. 
Rake is controlled by displacing the top bearing forward / aft, and dihedral changes with retraction thanks to the inflected top portion.
Pitch attitude is again provided by rudder T foil control surfaces.

More to Come

Look out in future for sophisticated interpretations of the rule that permits only a single axis of rotation as teams explore adjustability to extend the stable regime.