Tempest in a Teacup; July 1998; Scientific American Magazine; by Leutwyler; 1 Page(s)
All eyes are on the bright-orange boat and the ripples fanning out from its bow as it pushes through the flat water. This is no toy sailboat bobbing in the pond at Central Park on a clear spring day. It is a $50,000, 7.6-meter-long (25-foot-long) replica of an America¿s Cup hull--built to within one millimeter of accuracy-- inside a cold, dark testing tank at the David Taylor Model Basin in Bethesda, Md., where the U.S. Navy usually tests its destroyers and submarines. Scientists and journalists huddle in silence around a computer that records the water resistance, or drag, on the model as it goes through its motions.
John K. Marshall--president and chief executive officer of the New York Yacht Club/Young America campaign to win back the America¿s Cup from New Zealand in 2000--looks on with a particular intensity. For this former Olympic sailor, engineer and nine-time America¿s Cup participant, the race has already started. "The America¿s Cup is, of course, an athletic and sporting event of the first order," Marshall says, "but it is also an international competition in technology." And that battle--at the drafting board--began several years ago.