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H1 names Ford chief engineer, fleet reaches Red Sea
Courier Sports Staff
Thursday, November 29, 2012 10:00 AM
The duel for the National High Points championship between the Oh Boy! Oberto and Spirit of Qatar (above) will be decided Jan. 10-12 in Doha, Qatar. Those boats and the rest of the fleet are currently en route to Doha on a cargo ship (below). (H1 Unlimited photos)
Douglas A. Ford, a nationally known aeronautical engineer with more than 40 years experience in aerodynamic and hydrodynamic research, engineering and design has been named to a new position of H1 Unlimited Chief Engineer by H1 Chairman Sam Cole.
Ford has extensive background in experimental aircraft design, wind tunnel testing techniques, computational fluid dynamics analysis techniques, and hydrofoil and watercraft design and testing techniques.
Much of Ford's responsibility will be in supervising the monitoring equipment that is in each race boat, the point of contention for the recent controversy involving the Oh Boy! Oberto/Miss Madison's disqualification, appeal and later reversal as race winner at San Diego.
"I am pleased that Doug has agreed to accept this role which is vital to the continued development and improved professionalism of this sport," Cole said in a release. "He brings a tremendous wealth of experience and talent to this new position. Doug's commitment to advancing our sport is reflected by years of service and numerous contributions."
According H1 Unlimited, Ford will have a bevy of responsibilities including developing policies and procedures and supervision of the acquisition, operation, and maintenance of technical monitoring equipment as well as supervising H1 data technicians and coordinating with the appointed data representatives at each event.
In addition, Ford will provide the chief referee with an evaluation of the quality of the data recorded and serve as the chief technical officer for H1 with duties that include evaluating requests for variances from established rules regarding hull design, cockpit configuration, skid fins, rudders, and aerodynamic surfaces as well as assisting the chief referee, and inspectors and the competition committee with the development of recommendations for new and/or modification of competition-related rules and procedures.
It is a job for which Ford is imminently qualified. He has been actively involved with the sport of unlimited hydroplane racing since the mid-1950s when as a youngster he was part of the volunteer crew of the Slo-mo-shun IV, then with several other racing teams, a stint that encouraged him to pursue a career as an aeronautical engineer.
Ford served as the director of safety, technology, and competition for the Unlimited Racing Commission for 10 years and was instrumental in the development of design specifications for the structural enclosed cockpits used on unlimited hydroplanes today. He has been called on and continues to provide consulting and design support to many of the unlimited hydroplane racing teams.
Ford was a member of the appeals committee that overturned the U-6 Oh Boy! Oberto's disqualification at San Diego in September.
Hydros reach the Red Sea
The H1 Unlimited fleet's long trek across the world is nearing an end. On Monday, the Saudi Tabuk, the container ship carrying the nine Unlimited hydroplanes cleared the Suez Canal.
According the H1 Unlimited, the ship is on schedule and should reach Doha, Qatar, in plenty of time for the twin races to be held early next year. The 2012 season will officially come to an end on Jan. 10-12. The 2013 season will begin Feb. 7-9 with both races in Doha.
San Diego broadcast set
According to the H1 Unlimited Facebook page, the broadcast of the San Diego race from September will be televised on Fox Sports on Christmas Day. More details are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.
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