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X-Yachts AUS X4 728 - 2

Tank killers

by John Curnow, Editor, Sail-World AUS on 24 Jul
The M1 Abrams, almost 40 years on and still kicking butt! SW
Not all that long ago, the US Army started using depleted Uranium shells. These shells were wickedly awesome at their job, which was killing enemy tanks in their tracks (and yes the pun is fully intended). The mighty, turbine powered, M1 Abrams became even more formidable, and their crews somewhat safer again.

Now the US had plenty of the stuff hanging around, it wasn’t hellishly expensive, and its specific gravity (19050kg/m3) meant that they pierced the opposition’s armour with ease. Hence the heading, which was the nickname given to these shells. However, the only issue was that they were still slightly radioactive, and also quite toxic. Naturally, this caused of few problems on the ground for the USA. Doh! So they stopped using them… only to have another go at it later on. Hhhhhhmmmmm.

You see, the US Army did not have or need Unobtanium, unlike the keels of the greatest racing machines the ocean has ever seen. They had found something dense enough, that when hurtled at the opposition from the Abrams 120mm cannon, just kept on going, and the penetrator ignited on the way through the armour, pretty much like the proverbial knife through butter. Boom.



So the knife analogy is pretty much apt here. That’s because the bulb at the end of the famous Reichel/Pugh 'super-sleek and special steel' fin on board the ‘new’ Black Jack is made from Tungsten (W). It has a specific density of 19600kg/m3, whereas Uranium (U[238]) is 18900 and Plutonium (Pu[244]) is 19860. Only Platinum (Pt) is higher at 21400kg/m3, and all of them are significantly heavier than Lead (Pb), which is a mere 11340. The big difference of course, is that both Tungsten and Platinum are stable, which is handy when you’re not trying to fry all the fish of the world.

Naturally, both W and Pt also have a price tag that climbs North almost at the same rate as their specific gravity. On the cost thing, Gold (Au) is 19320kg/m3, and about USD40k per kilo, Tungsten (WO3 which is around 70% Tungsten) is $25k/tonne, and Platinum is $30k per kilo!!!!

And so why is any of this of concern here. Simply because Black Jack is slicing through the water with a scalpel, not dragging a cricket bat for a fin, with a significantly smaller and therefore less wetted surface area bulb than other boats. In the light, as well as downhill, that is going to be a very nice appendage to have keeping you upright.



Departing now, we had a slightly Francophile feel to last week’s report, which is a good thing, because this week we are it again. Not Champagne, Armagnac, gooey cheese or Sauternes, but yes please to all of the above. No, it is because the round the world legend, Thomas Coville, just took three hours off Francis Joyon’s record for the single-handed Transat. I cannot think of anyone who is not impressed by what these Ultime Trimarans can get up to.

Coville arrived after the USA to UK run on July 15, to set the yet to be ratified time of 04:11:10:23, which equates to an average speed of 28.35 knots over 3039 nautical miles! Comparing things, Coville said, “When you attack the solo record around the world, you try to keep it on the pedal, because you never know what tomorrow will be, because it lasts more than a month and a half. While in an Atlantic record, you do not worry about tomorrow, just from the present moment: you have no alternative but to give everything straight away.”

“I had to sleep four or five hours in all. I stood there, at the risk of literally falling from fatigue, but I preferred to keep my hand on the mainsail and mainsheet, to adjust and shock if necessary. I only took a reef twice. I jumped several times to go north and escape the high. The trajectory required me to go down into the wind in full power, remaining very close to the tail wind. That meant, with all the canvas, more than 700 m2 above my head, even by 35 knots of wind (Force 8), all in power. I have never done that. Under Ireland, we were closer to the wind, so it went very quickly, with the centre hull totally out of the water, almost six meters in the air … “



And so to the other Round the World, the Volvo... Then there was one. Volvo themselves, even by leak, have been very quiet about hull #8. It is believed that a Kiwi consortium has got a deposit in on the last boat, but no commitment to the full funding. Naturally, at this point it would have to be at a bargain price, and as we have said before, the truth is that the hull appears to be set to be ready for the ever-looming Fastnet.

Many a decent name have been linked to either discussions, or the ‘team’ itself, but the late nature could be enough to preclude many, and then there is the recruitment issue. Perhaps this is the one Pete Burling is linked to? It is unlikely that Dalton and Shoebridge would go to war again, so it is now firmly in the laps of the young guns. Plenty of young guns at the Moth Worlds. Representing AUS are Slingsby, Outteridge and Jensen, with Kiwi Burling there too. They were all there in 2011 at Toronto (LM not CAN), when Outteridge won. Tom Burton, Kyle Langford, Matt Chew, Ed Chapman, and Josh McKinight are part of the 42 strong contingent (record 214 entries). Young at heart AMac (Andrew McDougall) also there at Lake Garda, which is one of the favourite places of two-time World Champ, Rohan Veal (not present).

Last week we spoke about the next Olympics and the crews in the mix for the Guernsey on the ‘quick’. This week we feel that there could well be an announcement soon on the state of play inside the 470 camp. We do hope so. Now before peeling off ourselves, and with the Hobart having jumped off long-range radar to become line of sight, we just had to put the hoodwinker sunsfish story up. This is in homage to the nemesis of some Sydney Hobart boats, including former Line Honours winners.



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