I feel we are seeing right before our eyes a fundamental change in the way sailing is done. This is a very exciting time.
The Wright brothers didn't invent flight, most of the ideas about wing design and lift had been bouncing around for years (thousands of years according to some). As outside the box thinkers the truly amazing thing they came up with was the fundamentals of controlled flight ( ie... Ailerons, rudder, elevator, propeller, etc), these fundamentals have really nothing to do with available technology at the time. As outside the box thinkers they came up with (in their garage) a fundamental breakthrough in thinking that changed the world. I am assuming pretty much everyone who tried flying prior to them died in the process ( humor).
Pretty much every plane made since then works on exactly the same principles. My understanding is they did their best to try and completely control the market, but once the cat was out of the bag on how to do controlled flight successfully, pretty much everyone else followed and improved on their concepts without them. I am hoping for the same progression to come to sailing, now we have all seen what can be done.
I feel in the last couple years (because of the Americas cup and a few very bright guys), there has been a fundamental change in the way sailboats work.
Lets face it boats and sailing have been around for thousands of years with very few changes. Pretty much everyone basically is just following the same path trying to improve on what everyone else already knows, all of us in the same rut. Of course there is the natural progression of better materials and advancements in manufacture as Tom points out so well, but the basic concepts have not changed in 2000 yrs.
Once in a while outside the box thinkers come up with breakthrough ideas that can change the basic thinking of how things can be done (like the Wright brother, Henry Ford, Verner Von Braun, Einstein, the Beatles, etc). I feel things like the wing sails, hydrofoils, Mirage drives (yes mirage drive is up there with the best ideas) are just a taste of what is in all of our futures as sailing enthusiasts.
Everyone will say who would spend gazillians of dollars to design and build such a boat as an AC72. We all have eyes and can see and understand the concepts of what is being done, we all need to think outside the box and come up with the ideas on how to make this stuff a reality and affordable after 2000 yrs and thousands of books all re-hashing all the same old stuff over and over again.
We as humans once we see something, all try to improve on that idea, for example the gas engine in my car is exactly the same engine that was in the 1955 chevy, with a couple minor improvements (because of technology) but the fundamentals have not changed, everyone is just following the same old horse, that’s human nature (and very sad for society).
Of course sailing is just my hobby and I’m not in the sailing industry at all. I just putze with my boat on weekends in my garage for something to do and to occupy my mind. But I do have eyes and can see what is out there, and what is going on, and have a pretty good understanding of what some of these new concepts to sailing mean (ie.. wing sails, foils, hull design, etc). I feel what they are doing right now in front of our very eyes (and on Youtube) over the last couple years is a fundamental breakthrough (like the Wright brothers) in the way people will think about how to make sailboats in the future, basically a reboot, throwing out all the old knowledge. Just like with the Wright brothers this has nothing to do with technology, and who has the most money, it the fundamental thinking behind how to understand and make sailboats work. Basically pulling all of us out of the rut we have all been in for 2000 yrs.
As long as people are willing to think a little outside of the current box in the sailing industry , we will all have all this cool stuff.
I can give examples showing that you don’t have to spend a gazillian dollars to take advantage of these new fundamentals:
A couple years ago after watching my friend on his Trifoiler I studied up a little on Hydrofoil design and built my own Hydrofoils for my TI, just for somethin to do. They are cool and they work, but I lost interest quickly because we just don’t get the kind of winds needed around here, and like Tom said, they actually are a little boring once you have them. I made the foils in my garage by hand with no powertools at a cost of under $200 dollars (it’s not rocket science). The foils are just one small piece of the puzzle, but as people learn how to design and build stuff like this, eventually they will be a must have component on any sailboat just like a daggerboard, or rudder, and I think that will be sooner rather than later.
Wing sails, after watching the Americas cup boats and studying up a little on wing sails, I designed and built my own wing sail for my TI just for somethin to do and for my own personal enjoyment. It actually works really well and really is way more efficient than normal sails. And no it’s not a monstrous contraption that has to be hauled on a separate trailer, or cost a gazillian dollars it’s just a 32 sq ft furlable jib sail, and looks no different from any typical jib sail out there. My wing jib didn’t cost more than $150 in materials to make, all made in my garage in a few weekends with no fancy powertools or technology of any kind. The jib is 32 sq ft verses the 90sq ft standard mainsail (1/3 the sail area), yet propels my TI at 6mph in 10-12mph winds with the main completely furled. That’s about the same speed a TI sails in the same wind conditions with just the mainsail alone (no jib). If I can do this putzing in my garage, making a sail that’s 3 times more efficient vs a normal commercial sail, why are not things like this on the market ??.... because nobody really understood the fundamentals, but now we all do (again all pretty simple stuff).
I just feel the sailing market, has been held back with the same old 2000 yr old thinking, everyone chasing the same old dead horse (like the same old unchanged 1955 chevy engine design in my new Yukon, I expect more) . Hopefully as everyone see’s the Americas cup boats, they will get off their butts and start designing some good stuff, that we can all easily afford.
Sailing industry there are no more excuses, I want to be able to buy an affordable 18 to 25 ft cat or tri (with foils, and wing sails of course), capable of 40 mph within the next couple years. If you don’t come thru I will design and build it myself (only for my own personal enjoyment ‘sorry’), we all have the knowledge and knowhow now thanks to these Americas cup guys showing us the way.
Hope I didn’t bore everybody too much