>It’s Sunday morning and in Valencia Spain BMW/Oracle Racing is waiting to hear if the race committee is going to declare a today a race day and competition for the 2nd race of the America’s Cup. With all of the legal wrangling it’s a bit hard to be excited about the race as it’s seemed more like a race fought in court and less about being out on the water slugging it out around the race course.
However, I have to admit that as I have watched videos of the BMW/Oracle boat and promotional information being sent out by BMW/Oracle Racing it’s become clearer just how impressive a machine that boat really is. Until yesterday when I watched a press conference from BMW/Oracle Racing I had been focused more on the two billionaire owners sparing and didn’t appreciate that while it’s certainly that, it’s also a platform for Oracle to showcase their software and programing abilities to the world. To listen to some of the details of just how sophisticated the boat is and the network of sensors that the boat is armed with was more than impressive. One particular example is the ridged wing sail. Unlike “soft” sails, this wing doesn’t show if it’s properly set because it can’t luff. The only way to tell if it’s set properly is to read the loads and wind angles as displayed from instruments and sensors placed around the boat and on the “sail” or rather wing. The crew watches the output on “heads up” displays projected on their sunglasses. As you watch videos of the boat note that the helmsman is wearing a backpack. That’s where the electronics that run his display is housed, receiving data from all over the boat. That’ boat is indeed a gigantic floating billboard for Larry Ellison and the impressive capabilities of Oracle.
This video newscast from some months ago provides some context to how the Cup has been pursued over the years and some of the outsize egos that have pursued it. Ellison’s legal rangling was successful and now they are in Spain and competing.
I am hopeful that a summary video of the first race will soon be available as I did see one at the BMW/Oracle Racing site but haven’t been able to find a posting that’s available all of the time yet. The first race was quite interesting as it showed that BMW/Oracle Racing was able to win after a really botched start that had them crossing the starting line some 3,000′ behind the Aligne and ultimately winning. The power of the massive BMW/Oracle boat flying two of three hulls is quite something. To get a feel for the scope of the boat, check out the specs page for the team. Be sure to click on the graphic on the specs page to see what these specs look like when shown on a drawing of the boat itself.
It’s also fascinating to watch the PR machine that this group is when you consider that they have a fully functioning video studio at their base in Valencia and you can watch the transmission over the Web as it’s happening over in Spain. Go to this link to see what they are saying or video archives of what’s been broadcast to date. This all-the-time availability of info controlled by the team verses occasional broadcast by a network shows how much news programing and distribution has changed over the years.
Something else that’s changed a lot is the boats themselves. Hard to believe that less than 70 years separates the boats from the giant “J” boats from today’s. This short video clip shows the contrast between the monstrous boats of the 30s and today’s modern machines. What next?
It will be very interesting to see what happens in the coming week and if the America’s cup will indeed end up on American soil once again. Fingers crossed.