NAVIGATIONAL MANAGEMENT FOR OCEAN RACING

Bernhard N. Palm., N, USPS

Peer Reviewed

Abstract: This rather formal title covers a subject that may be somewhat limited in scope but requires performance under unusual physical handicaps and pays off in real enjoyment. (If you like this sport). Perhaps a few definitions and general explanations would be in order to establish the parameters of our subject material and the ground rules affecting its conduct. Ocean racing is the competition between sail-boats of a similiar type over long distances and usually out of sight of land and each race has its own peculiarities that must be taken into consideration. In less than two weeks, the Bi Annual Transpac Race from Los Angeles to Honolulu will start so it may be of interest to review the navigational planning and responsibilities based on the conditions of this contest. The racing rules require the navigator to be an amateur, and bans the use of automatic pilots or any electronic navigational aids except the required ships radio. This limits such aids to R.D.F. and Consulan. Consequently, the old fashioned celestial navigation system based on sextant, chronometer aud almanac must be used. Incidentally, the rules also state that any contestant requesting or receiving help in determining his position is automatically disqualified. Unlike today's steamers that can maintain a uniform speed and any desired course, the ocean racer has some limitations that must always be considered in racing tactics. For those who are not familiar with sailboats, it might be pointed out that they cannot be sailed on any course that falls within the sector of approximately 45 degrees on either side of the direction from which the wind is blowing. Therefore, when the vessel has a destination that lies within this 90 degree sector, it must be approached in a zig-zag method called "tacking". Also, it is dangerous for a boat to sail within 10 degrees of the same direction as the wind is blowing if there is a following sea such as prevails in this race. As in any type of race, achieving the maximum possible speed for the existing conditions is a most important factor, and these generalities apply to the conventional ocean racer. Each boat has a maximum theoretical hull speed that is directly related to its length; the larger the boat, the faster its maximum speed. If driven beyond this speed, the vessel can literally be sailed under. The stronger the wind, the faster a boat will sail, up to its maximum. Beyond this point, greater winds are a detriment and necessitate a reduction of sail area. The fastest point of Failing for each contestant will vary with its sail plan, and also, the relative angle between the boats heading and the winds direction. To give each qualified contestant an equal chance to win, time allowances are assigned to each competitor based on the foregoing factors.
Published in: NAVIGATION, Journal of the Institute of Navigation, Volume 13, Number 1
Pages: 68 - 70
Cite this article: Palm., Bernhard N., N,, USPS,, "NAVIGATIONAL MANAGEMENT FOR OCEAN RACING", NAVIGATION, Journal of The Institute of Navigation, Vol. 13, No. 1, Spring 1966, pp. 68-70.
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