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America's Cup For Idiots: What Happens If There's No Water?

Dumb questions, smart answers, courtesy of Kimball Livingston of Sail magazine.

How does a boat go really fast?
“Straight-line speed is good, and maneuvering is slow. On the downwind legs (going away from the Golden Gate Bridge), the boats will be on hydrofoils—lifted above the water—most of the time. if one boat goes through a turn without coming off its foils, and the other splashes down, the faster boat might gain the distance of a football field in just that maneuver.”

How does one team outmaneuver another?
“A race-course for sailboats has boundaries, but no ‘track’ per se. When two boats round the same mark, the boat inside, closer to the mark, has more options going into the next leg. A tactician can choose to go left or right, and the effect on the outcome might be huge.”

Is Oracle going to mop the floor with everyone?
“Everything is so new in 2013—the type of boat, the speeds, the shape of the race-course—that even cup veterans will be discovering the moves as they go. it’s very different from the slower, cerebral game of yore.”

Hmm...I’m still not sold.
“You’ve got to come down to the waterfront and watch the racing at least one time with your eyeballs, so you can say, ‘I was there.’ Of course, you will also want to have a screen visible. Larry Ellison has invested astronomically in the television experience, and everything about that has gone right. The boats will scream past us. Wow. And then we’ll go to the screen to follow what happens next.”

Read More America's Cup

How To Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the America's Cup
The Year in Fail 
America's Cup Magnate or James Bond Villain?
A Field Guide to Fans
Ask a Bookie

An Abbreviated History of Cheats
Pier vs. Couch

The Fair-Weather Fan's Racing Calendar
Will Larry Ellison Actually Be Sailing?

What Happens If There's No Water?
Which Team Should You Root For?

Originally published in the July 2013 issue of San Francisco.

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