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Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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Check out http://www.fossettchallenge.com/ for an account of one of the greatest sailing feats of all time.

By reducing the amount of guesswork concerning weather systems, modern technology has produced a feat to make the old clipper skippers' minds boggle.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>a more impressove thing to do would be to do it without all the electric junk that controls the ropes and the ships course, like too see how far they get than.<<

Does it really matter? However sophisticated the technology or not, the limiting factor is still the weather. No wind, no go. That they pulled this off in only 58 days is a credible achievement by any reckoning. Powered vessels would be hard pressed to do as well.
 

Dave Gittins

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Jesse, there is no "electric junk that controls the ropes and the ships course". Cheyenne is entirely hand-steered and all sail trim is by hand, as required by international rules.

The electronics provide data on the yacht's performance, most importantly what is called Velocity Made Good. That's the speed made in the desired direction towards a way-point. The GPS gives the yacht's exact position and the speed "over the bottom". These were unobtainable until the arrival of GPS.

The most valuable electronic contribution to the record was the weather information supplied from onshore. This enabled the yacht to locate areas where the wind was strong enough for fast sailing but not so strong as to be dangerous. The maximum wind met with was 40 knots. As Cheyenne can sail faster than the wind speed on most points of sailing, 20 knots is sufficient to give her speeds of 25 to 30 knots.

Similar technology is used by commercial shipping to enable it to avoid areas of danger or contrary winds. Ships today no longer simply sail the shortest course.

A lot of Cheyenne's success was due to good old guts and determination. Repairs were made to the mast at a height of 140 feet, halyards were routinely replaced and a major repair was made to the forebeam. Nothing electronic about that!
 

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