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Swiss Americas Cup Challenger Reveals Radical Hull

Louis Vuitton Cup Centre

The Swiss FAST 2000 boat Be hAPpy (SUI-59) has shown itself to be neither fast and consequently, not too happy yet. FAST 2000 is the only team to finish Round Robin One of the Louis Vuitton Cup without a single point. On Saturday, the Swiss team unveiled their boat and showed off the radical underwater design configuration of their bright yellow boat.

Be hAPpy boasts not one, but two keels, placed fore and aft. Both keels have big bulbs at the bottom. The leading keel is a moveable foil over the fixed bulb and the trailing keel is a more conventional fixed foil with a large trim tab. Both bulbs had winglets on them for Round Robin One that have now been removed.

Peter van Oossanen, part of the design team for Be hAPpy said the major advantage of the design was reduced drag. 'We discovered in the towing tank that the resistance of two small bulbs separated along the hull is less than a conventional design with one keel and bulb in the centre,' he said.

The trade-off is maneuverability. Van Oosanen said the team recognised that it would be a problem. 'When we took the decision to build this boat, we knew it was going to be a difficult boat to steer,' he said.

But the team felt they would have enough time to learn the boat.
'Unfortunately, because of our financial problems halfway through the year, we were not able to come to Auckland early enough. We only got out sailing eight times before the first race,' he said.

Steering is complicated because both the fore and aft fins need to be turned independently. This makes it difficult not just to turn the boat, but also to just sail straight.

According to helmsman Jochen Shumann, the problem comes in finding the right balance between the two rudders. 'It's very challenging,' he said. 'We are getting deeper and deeper into the problem of balance. We don't know what the problem is, and we don't have the solution yet. We've had a few moments, but we haven't been able to sail it for a long time period in the groove.'

For this time, every moment on the water is crucial. Van Oosanen says the team is learning every day, and expects better results in Round Robin Two. 'It's a very difficult boat to steer,' he said. 'We are still in the steep part of our learning curve.'

'It is hard because there's no feeling on the helm,' Shumann said. 'My feel is based on a normal keel configuration. And on this boat, the steering is hydraulic, so I need the instruments to know if we're going fast. It's a very uncommon way for me to drive.'

The FAST 2000 team is upbeat. 'The whole team is still behind this complicated program,' said Shumann. 'We'll sail every day from now until Round Robin Two. We have nothing to lose!'

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