Keel-gate or Not...

Canting-keel-gate by another name...

One day into the Louis Vuitton Challenger Series, and already we have a controversey - surprised? But canting-keel-gate looks like it’s turning out to be non-deflecting-keel-gate, which isn’t quite as catchy. Sail-world have kindly posted the relevant rule and the interpretation that was requested (which started it all). While Bob Fisher’s take on it is here. But as the man at Valencia Sailing points out, the interpretation has been kicking around for ten months, and it surfaces right at the start of the LV?

Still, to back up a bit, the advantage of a canting keel, as used in the Volvo Ocean 70, is to drag the lead bulb on the end of the keel fin, up to windward and so increase the righting moment. This involves a lot of engineering to allow the whole fin to rotate, not to mention the hydraulics to pump it from side to side when you tack. And according to the interpretation, it looks as though Ken McAlpine, the Technical Director for the yachts, has stymied any possible investigation of a loophole here – as he should. But there might be scope in the answer for just limiting the amount the keel fin normally deflects to leeward.

We used to have a ‘keel cam’ on the OneWorld Challenge boats. It was there to check for weed, you could view it from a browser window on the on-deck computer screen. But when those long testing days were getting to you, it was always entertaining to watch twenty tonnes of bulb flapping around on the end of the steel fin - more interesting than Coronation Street anyway. Particularly when you're sitting on the boat - the point is that the fin bends a lot, and the bulb moves a long way to leeward. If this can be prevented there is a big gain to be made in righting moment and speed. But you’d need someone a lot smarter than me to work out how to do it without contravening either the rule, or Ken’s interpretation.

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Mark Chisnell ©