BMW Oracle Racing 90 to move to San Diego

BMW Oracle Racing - Anacortes September 2008

Following a successful two-week session of sea trials, the team now is preparing the BMW ORACLE Racing 90 to move down the West Coast to San Diego for an extended testing session.

'We achieved our goals for this initial session,' said BMW ORACLE Racing helmsman James Spithill. 'With light breeze and flat water, Anacortes has been the ideal place to sea trial our new boat. A boat of this size and power is a new ball game for most of us, so the initial learning curve has been steep – just massive.'

The sailing concluded on Friday after two weeks of sailing on the Rosario Strait and the Strait of Juan de Fuca in Puget Sound.

The team now has its sights set on San Diego. The shore team is preparing the boat for loading onto a barge next weekend for shipping to San Diego. The warmer climate of Southern California will allow the team the opportunity to test the boat through the end of November.

'Open ocean sailing in San Diego will give us the runway we need to continue working the boat up,' Spithill said. 'We still have plenty to learn; it’s a totally new world.'

What observers of the BMW ORACLE Racing 90 don’t see during the ongoing sea trials on Rosario Strait in Anacortes are the 250 or more sensors collecting data from across all areas of the boat. The sensors cover all areas of the boat from sails, mast, keels, and rudders. Even the carbon fiber the boat is built from has fiber optics embedded within to sense the loads and stress the structure experiences.

Ian Burns (AUS) and the in-house team of performance analysts are measuring the strains throughout the beams, the hull, and the foils and other parts of the boat. This data is processed daily to give a complete picture of the boat’s performance and to monitor the loads as the boat is sailing.

'With the multihull, we started with a blank sheet of paper in terms of our data collection techniques. In the past we have sailed monohull America’s Cup boats, but the multihull is a whole new paradigm,' said Burns.

'Our first step was to design and build a completely new instrument system capable of handling the vast onslaught of data – every second,' Burns said. 'From there we had to scale up all our tools just to handle the data.'

'This has been a new challenge for not only the performance team who operate at a new level of sensors and loads but also the designers who are designing beyond the normal multihull limits,' Burns said during testing in Anacortes. 'By keeping them informed of the instantaneous loads, the designers and sailors can decide on exactly how hard to push the boat and identify any potential problems.'
Interview with Franck Cammas.

Franck Cammas (FRA) is skipper of the 'Groupama' program and BMW ORACLE Racing multihull consultant. In an interview for the Groupama website, Cammas shares his thoughts about the new BMW ORACLE Racing 90.

Franck, what is your feeling after the first sailing session on board BMW ORACLE Racing 90?

'It is the first ever boat of this size designed and built for in-port racing and match racing only. She is very impressive, and the size of the mast is just amazing. She’s a no-compromise boat, aimed exclusively at performing. She is extreme and provides extreme sensations too!'

How do you rate the performance you have reached so far?

'We haven’t gone full on yet. We need to build up our confidence and then we will be able to sail more aggressively. The boat is designed for light winds. She reaches Groupama’s top speeds easily, however much quicker than G3. Now it would be different with 25 knots of wind, and Groupama 3 would be quicker. But this boat is exceptional under 15 kts. We are still very careful. It’s extreme, we must not take risks. There is a lot of pressure when bearing away, we could feel the pressure amongst the crewmembers when we did it for the first time.'

Is it a difficult boat to sail for the crewmembers?

'Well, the sail size is huge, which will make it difficult for the crew when the wind starts blowing. We will have to reduce our sail size very quickly. There is space for a lot of people on board, but we will have to restrict the number of crewmembers. Everything is so big that it will be difficult to make good maneuvers, like we do on a 60’ or Groupama 3. At this stage, we are still discovering a lot. Luckily, we have time.'

Tell us about your Groupama team members that are also involved with BMW ORACLE Racing 90.

'Jean-Marc Normand has been here since 2 months; he was part of the construction team and got involved with specific parts such as the foils. Bruno Laurent is the boat captain; he manages the little daily jobs and makes the link with the BOR team. Finally, Thierry Fouchier is also part of the BOR team as front sails trimmer. Obviously, some other French people are also in the design team, including VPLP.'

What’s the general feeling amongst you?

'It’s great; we are all excited and we learn a lot. We discover a method. I think it is the same for the other guys: some of the sailors who come from the America’s Cup discover multihulls for the first time and they immediately get to sail on the fastest one in the world; it’s impressive for them. The level of construction of the boat is very high, which is new on this type of boats. It makes it an expensive boat; lots of people have been involved in the construction. It’s a Stradivarius, perfectly built and finished. It’s great for our confidence in the boat.'

What about your other projects, are they suffering from your absence?

'Groupama 3 is currently being repaired in France. We learn a lot here, and the entire team will benefit from this experience.'