Speaker 1: I don’t know if you can hear that, but it sounds like they’re literally cutting through the water. And with those hydro piles underneath, they kind of are,
Speaker 2: But the boats are so efficient and so powerful. They can do four times the speed of the wind. It’s unbelievable.
Speaker 3: Who’s fastest to mark one. The boats are up and foing.
Speaker 1: This is sale GP, a high speed, high impact race featuring the world’s most advanced hydrofoil [00:00:30] sailboats, eight countries with six crew soaring across the water at speeds of up to 60 miles per hour. All thanks to an advanced hydrofoil design. That means these boats, aren’t cruising. They’re flying. As the teams prepare for their final race of the season. We go behind the scenes to learn how these boats are designed and built to push the limits of physics and human strength.
Speaker 1: [00:01:00] Here in San Francisco, the eight teams competing in sale GP are putting the final touches on their boats ahead of the grand final. The world’s best sailors are getting ready to hit the water in one of the world’s fastest and most advanced sailboats. The really interesting thing is they all use the same boat, the F 50, and that’s what’s behind me. It’s an incredibly streamlined boat. This isn’t the power boat that you’re taking out fishing on the weekend. The angles, [00:01:30] the shape, everything about this boat is designed to get incredibly high speeds in the water. It’s kind like formula one, but for sailing each F 50 takes about six months to build the carbon fiber design is based on the AC 50 catamarans that we used by all the teams in the 2017 America’s cup. The wind power comes from a rigid wing. The wing is modular.
Speaker 1: The standard height for racing is 24 meters, but it can be scaled up to 29 meters on low wind days [00:02:00] and down to 18 meters. When conditions are more extreme, crew members use these controllers to fine tune the position of the boat on the water, correcting its pitch and the angle of attack, and about a thousand sensors across the boat generate more than 30,000 data points making this one of the most advanced catamarans in the world. While the electronics and sensors run on solar powered batteries, the boat itself gets its power from the wind and the water. [00:02:30] And those high speeds are all thanks to some pretty simple physics. So when you’re watching a sail GP race, there is a lot of action happening on top of the water with the crew manically moving about, but the real action happens down here, underwater. Now this is a hydrofoil it’s known as the daggerboard essentially it acts like an airplane wings. So water moves above and below this foil, which generates lift, lifting the boat out of the water, which reduces drag. And that’s where you get those really high [00:03:00] speeds. There are four hydrofoils on the F 52 curved der boards towards the front and two T-shaped ruts at the back. When the boat gets up to speed on the race course, you can actually see these foils lifting. The hu out of the water
Speaker 1: Sale. GP has been running for two seasons with races in some of the world’s most famous Harbor destinations from sane in France to Sydney Harbor [00:03:30] in Australia, here in San Francisco, the eight teams have another iconic sailing backdrop as they tap between Alcatraz and the golden gate bridge it’s here. That team USA is hoping to get their first win on home soil or home water. At least leading that charge is team USA. Captain Jimmy spittle, Spittle grew up in Australia taking a 10 dingy to and from school every day and learning to sail. Instead of watching [00:04:00] TV, spittle took up racing professionally and became a champion of the America’s cup racing seven times and winning twice. Now he’s chasing his sail GP championship.
Speaker 2: When you think about the speeds, you know, there’s no seat belts, there’s no airbags. You know, you got carbon fiber missiles, you know, launching around the track on the engine control,
Speaker 3: Look at the British boat, leap out of the water and look
Speaker 2: At that. If you don’t get it right, there’s some serious consequences. It’s like getting in a formula one car. When you make the turn
Speaker 1: [00:04:30] While spin is in the driver’s seat, there are five more crew members all working in sync to make the boat sail really fast at the front of the boat. Two grinders power, a win that moves the position of the big wing. Sail. Next up is the flight controller, the controls, the angle of attack on the hydrofoils.
Speaker 2: This is very much like a gaming console, bunch of different functions. You can perform the different bang is that instead of looking at a TV screen, it’s it’s reality,
Speaker 1: [00:05:00] The flight controller determines how high the boat flies out of the water too low, and the boat doesn’t hit those fast hydrofoil speeds, too high, and it can become unstable and crash Or even worse cab size. They stop
Speaker 3: Doing this could be over coming here
Speaker 1: Behind a flight controller, the wing trimmer controls the strategic position of the [00:05:30] wing. And then you have the helmsman where spit all sits driving the boat, communicating with the crew and deciding how to attack the race course. In 2021, sail GP added a sixth crew member at the back of the boat. The strategist on team USA, that strategist seat is crude by 18 year old, CJ Perez
Speaker 4: Being in the sixth position or the strategist position. You’re doing multiple things. So while all of the other roles that being super focused on, you know, either driving or [00:06:00] controlling the rake or the foils, you need one person to really keep their, your eyes outside of the boat. So for me, I’m looking at other boats around us, making sure that we don’t crash into anybody, which has happened a lot this past season
Speaker 1: During the race. There’s no time for mistakes. The crew communicate on headsets so they can hear each other over the roar of the wind. All the buttons have raised surfaces so they can feel the controls without taking their eyes off [00:06:30] the race. The crew has to work in unison, making split second decisions while they fly through the water at 50 or 60 miles an hour. And if that wasn’t enough, when they maneuver into the wind, the team has to run across the sailboat and drive from the opposite side,
Speaker 2: Swapping sides is probably one of the most challenging things on the boat. When you’re going at high speeds racing, the only way I could describe it, it would be like, honestly, getting on the roof of a car blindfolded and someone just driving a, a rally [00:07:00] course.
Speaker 4: There’s lots of points where it’s just super high pressure and everyone on the team needs to stay calm and collected. I think that’s the point where the boat will go fastest.
Speaker 1: All right. So this might look easy because I’m doing it and I’m really tough. But essentially when you are trying to steer and control a 2.4 ton sailboat, this grinding job becomes very difficult. What you’re essentially doing here is moving this piece here, which is connected to the win, which is connected [00:07:30] to the wing. Now that’s the giant sail, and that’s where you’re getting all the speed Standing inside the F 50. You really get a sense of just how intense this racing is. And I’m not even out on the water being hit by 30 mile an hour winds and huge waves sale. GP is physically and mentally demanding. And winning comes down to a mix of precision engineering strategy and pure human grit. [00:08:00] So when the boats come past behind me at speed, you can see, they are actually sitting on the water. They’re actually lifted up above it. And that’s because of the hydrofoil underneath. So Australia’s about to come past, look beneath the boat. You can see those hydrofoils, the DGA boards sticking down into the water. That’s why it gets to such high speeds.
Speaker 5: Go Australia,
Speaker 1: Seeing these boats up, close out on the water, you can really see just how fast [00:08:30] they’re going. They whistle through the air when they get up to speed. And when they maneuver, it looks like they’re turning on a dime because everyone is working with the same hardware. Winning is really down to the skill of the sailors, reading the race and working the wind. But the eight countries competing, don’t just use the same boats.
Speaker 6: All the teams have access to other each other’s data. So, uh, team USA can see the data of the Australian team and Australian team can see the data of the British team
Speaker 1: When [00:09:00] they’re on the water. Each of these sailboats generates roughly 1000 data requests per second, everything from the angle of the wing, the load on the hydrofoils, even down to how many times a button has been pressed on the steering wheel, that adds up to 40 billion data requests in a single afternoon of racing, no matter where they are in the world, the sale GP boats feed all of that data back to an Oracle data center in London, from here in the San Francisco bay, the data [00:09:30] team in London gets that information in 0.18 seconds. That crew in London is also controlling one of the two cameras on the boat, which can be moved in real time to capture the best angles of the race. The data gives the crew vital stats while they race, but the most important part comes after the racing is done. When the team uses this information to study how they performed over every single part of the race course,
Speaker 6: Every time these boats are on the water, we’re learning, it’s [00:10:00] all about the athletes on these boats and it’s how they want to, how they wanna push the boat. But they have the data there to give the information of how to do that.
Speaker 1: Sale. GP has only been running for two seasons and the organizers are already looking towards the future, honing the boats, cutting down race times and diving deeper into the stats on each boat. And each course they’re even looking at adding features like collision avoidance, but ultimately while computers and data [00:10:30] will always be a key part of this race, you won’t see AI driven boats on the water with cell GP. Anytime soon
Speaker 6: When everybody gets on the race course, no one’s got a faster engine or everybody’s looking for the wind and they’re thought, then it’s all about the athletes rather than the, the machines.
Speaker 1: When it came to athletes and machines, the grand final weekend didn’t disappoint team USA had a huge setback on opening day when the Spanish team crashed into their boat, [00:11:00] But the us rallied and eventually finished third in the grand final behind Japan and Australia. But it’s not over the teams are heading off to Bermuda for the start of the next season.
Speaker 4: The Fs 50 is the coolest boat in the world. The hum of the foils and hearing the wind is turning. It just fills you up with so much excitement and nervousness and just a ton of feelings. And that’s the type of stuff that you just live for.
Speaker 1: [00:11:30] The big question for me is, do you get addicted to that speed? Are you, are you like a total speed junkie now that you have to kind of go this fast?
Speaker 2: Yes. Yeah. You can’t go back. I mean, once you get a taste for it, you’re always hungry for it. And every time you go foiling, you hit those top speeds. You just wanna wake up the next day and go for more.