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INTRO: To keep some of my friends informed (sailors and otherwise), I've been collecting together interesting info about the upcoming America's Cup. I generally send this out by personal email to those I think might be interested.
However, it was recently suggested to me that some readers of my Small Trimaran Design website might also be interested, so why not post the info for broader interest and readership? So here we are.

I make no promise about anything regular, but if I learn about something potentially interesting to add and can find the time, you might find a few comments about it here. So stay tuned! At least this first article will contain a collection of info that will 'set the stage' for a VERY exciting event. The choice of a large, hi-tech, multihull for this prestigious event should certainly inspire a lot of sailors to take another look at this rather different form of sailing ;-).

Mike 2012

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The 2013 America's Cup Race

America's Cup

As many will know, the America's Cup started back in 1851, when a fast boat from America challenged all the top boats around southern Britain, for a race around the Isle of Wight, off the coast of England. (Footnote: This, in fact, was my own sailing area when I was a teenager and I once raced the 60+ miles around the island in a special Coronation Race for dinghies—a one-time race that later spawned the 5–0–5 and Jollyboat classes.)

Well, the American boat beat them all and won the elaborate silver challenge cup that we now all know. The skipper then brought the cup back to the USA and presented it to the NY Yacht Club with instructions that other nations could compete for it in future one-on-one 'match racing' events, provided they met certain criteria.
I don't intend to go more thoroughly into the early story than that, as there's plenty of history on line if anyone is interested. You might start here: America's Cup — History.
See also this article on The J-Boats and their re-birth!

But we've come a LONG way since then and seen LOTS of changes in the boats used—and after a brain storming session in 2010 (in Spain I believe), it was decided that the Cup's future might be doubtful unless something was done to get more sponsors involved and for that to happen, more spectators and public enthusiasm must be garnered.
So the choice was made for a super-size, state-of-the-art, hi-tech multihull that, as for Grand Prix car racing, could offer "thrills and spills" and famous multihull designers Gino Morelli and Pete Melvin were chosen to write up some rules. The new boat would be called an AC72 and there would also be a World Series, using a closely related AC45 model for prospective challengers to train crews on—as both boats would sport a hi-tech wing sail.

Principal Dimensions — AC45 & AC72

Dimension AC45 AC72
Hull Length 13.45 m (44') 22 m (72.2')
Maximum Beam 6.9 m (22.6') 14 m (45.9')
Mast Height 21.5 m (70.5') 40 m (131.2')
Maximun Draft 2.7 m (8.8') 4.4 m (14.4')
Displacement 1,400 kg (3,086 lbs) 5,900 kg (13,007 lbs)
Wing Sail Area 85 m² (914 ft²) 260 m² (2,900 ft²)
Jib Area 48 m² (516 ft²) 80 m² (861 ft²)
Gennaker Area 125 m² (1,345 ft²) 320 m² (3445 ft²)
Crew 5 11
Maximum Speed 30 kt range 45 kt range

Class Rules — AC72

AC72 Class Rules

To read more about how the design was developed, many will find this article by Pete Melvin of interest, so here's the link: www.cupinfo.com/en/pete-melvin-americas-cup-multhull-decision-11005.php

Each country involved is permitted to built up to two boats, though not all countries will be able to raise the $50+ million needed to do that. The team that will DEFEND the cup in 2013, is the ORACLE team from San Francisco and they already have their two boats sailing.

Side story : Everyone knows that the SF Bay area can be VERY rough and gusty, and with the tide ebbing fast against strong winds, the conditions can get very wild for such lightweight machines. Already, the first of the ORACLE boats has capsized while practicing and in fact, was swept 5 miles out to sea before they could control the situation, cut the mast free and slowly tow her home, and the wingsail was reportedly trashed by the rough conditions. Fortunately, the final Cup races are not until early next September! Here's part of the story: Oracle sailors' account of capsize.

So, WHO is challenging for the cup in 2013?

Well, both New Zealand (Team Emirates) and Sweden (Team Artemis) are already sailing their AC72s and Italy (Luna Rossa) will christen a boat any day now.
Six other teams had planned to challenge also, but only Team Korea is still a possibility, though there is still no news as to whether their AC72 is even under construction.
The other five were:
  Mascalzone Latino, Rome, Italy;
  Team Aleph, France;
  Green Comm, Valencia, Spain;
  Venezia Challenge, Italy;
  Team Australia.

But apparently none of these made the deadline; most missing on the financial commitment required. There were also teams expected from China and the UK but, for 2013, they've decided to stay with the AC45s and race in that World Series to gain more experience.
Two further long shots, which had originally expressed interest, were 'Team Synergy' from Russia and the 'Red Maple Racing Team' from Canada (RCYC), but they also failed to raise the necessary funding in time to register their challenge officially.

But this does show the potential interest in this new format and for the next challenge—believed to be in 2016—we can certainly expect more than three or four challengers.

As has been the case in recent America's Cup events, the challengers will first compete against each other, in one‑on‑one match races, to see who wins the Louis Vuitton Cup that is presented to the top challenger, scheduled for July–August 2013. That challenger then races an extensive one-on-one match series against one of the ORACLE boats for the cup, presently scheduled for early September, 2013. The first boat to win NINE races will be awarded the cup, and then the next America's Cup challenge will be held in a location chosen by the winner. The winner is also deeded the right to re-write the rules for any new challenge, should they so desire. (modified Nov 14, 2012)

One very fascinating thing about this America's Cup, compared to all others, is that the committee in charge is fully determined to make this a spectator sport. In order to achieve that, they have hired a promotion specialist, who was also a professional sailor. Stan Honey came up with 'LiveLine'—a form of accurate grid that can be superimposed over a TV image, in order to see exactly where each boat is in relation to its competitor. As each boat will be feeding military GPS data to the system, they claim accuracy will be within 20 mm! There will also be a 'Digital Boathouse' where the media and visitors to San Francisco can go, see, and discuss this in real time. Further, there will even be an App available through iTunes®, for your Smart Phone or iPad® that will give you related information!
Read more here: America's Cup — Virtual Boathouse.

A Final Wrap-up:

January, 2014

As Multihulls World did a nice resume of the America's Cup, I do not need to write more than this.

Here's the link that says it all—an incredible comeback for sure—and these boats really FLY!


Here you will see just HOW close these boats were, even in the final race, with New Zealand taking the all-important start but ultimately, Oracle-USA showing it had found that little extra boat speed to not be beaten. This helicopter-shot shows a NZ hull just hovering over the stern of Oracle—and these boats were flying at nearly 40k!!

Enjoy it all one final time, and expect to see Australia take over the role of New Zealand in the next one—probably in 2017. For a tiny island nation and far less money available, New Zealand did a fabulous job and without them, this would not been the incredible event it ultimately was. And kudos to San Francisco as well—what a spectacular event!

Latest News:

September 9, 2013

Well, the FINAL of the Americas Cup is now underway!!

Due to a 2 point penalty imposed on the US team (because some crew members illegally added corrective weights in one of their earlier boats), this means that, with one point per race win, the US team ORACLE must now win 11 of the 17 races, whereas New Zealand needs to win only 9.

But what a FINAL it looks to be—with the American and New Zealand boats typically finishing within less than a minute of each other so far—and showing speeds under sail in the amazing 25–45k range, which was about double the noted wind speed.

At the moment, the Kiwis have the upper hand with 3 wins to 1 and the US team will need another win, before their wins will even start to count—due to that annoying 2 race penalty.

America's Cup Race
Fast and Furious!!

Typically in an Americas Cup final, we see quite some difference in the two final boats and often the end result looks pretty clear after the first 2 races. But not so this time around. These boats are VERY close in their potential (and scintillating) performance—with perhaps one edge going to NZ Emirates for its amazing acceleration, while perhaps the US boat has a slight edge on tactics with skipper Jimmy Spithill—though only more races will show if that's really true or not.

It appears that for each race, the boats must take turns in crossing the start line on port or on starboard (the latter having the advantage). For the 5th and 6th races on Tuesday (Sept 10th), NZ should start on starboard tack for the first race of that day while Oracle (USA) will have it for the 2nd. Starts will only be made if the wind is under 22k—but this is adjusted for the tidal currents at that time, so could in fact go higher by a couple of knots or so.

Both teams are obviously pushing hard and anything can happen at this point—so stay tuned to the race reports on line. Here are 3 interesting sites to get info, as by the time I write another report, this will likely be all over.



www.nzherald.co.nz (check the SPORT page)

Both teams want this BADLY—but may the best team win !! Good luck to BOTH of them as we as sailors, may all be beneficiaries of what they have built and developed, in the years to come.

As veteran Gary Jobson reminds us "As always with the America's Cup, the stakes are high. The winner chooses the next venue, the boats to be used, the format to race under, and the date"—that's BIG!!

Depending on any new choice of boats, we may never see these super high speeds (and associated risks) again — so keep in touch and enjoy this incredible spectacle.

Footnote re Broadcasts etc

In the U.S., the America's Cup Finals will be broadcast live on NBC and NBC Sports Network. Replays will be available on the America's Cup YouTube channel. Saturday's and Sunday's racing will be broadcast live nationally on NBC, from 1:00 to 3:00 pm Pacific Time.

You can also follow racing with America's Cup App for Android and iOS devices.

Racing is scheduled for Saturdays, Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, with two races per day scheduled to start at 1:15 and 2:15 pm Pacific Time.


August 8, 2013

With the preliminary 'Round Robin' rounds over and the NZ Emirates not having lost a race, the 2nd and 3rd placed boats are now competing in the 'semifinals'—the best of 7 races (4 wins). Italians entering 'Luna Rossa' and the Swedes with 'Artemis II'. As this is posted, the Italians are up 2-0. This is partly due to the initial work done by Luna Rossa when sparring against the Emirates boat in NZ, and partly due to the Swedish team having to rush to get a 2nd boat in operation, after their first one capsized, broke apart and caused the tragic loss of one of their key crew members, 'Bart' Simpson—drowned from being trapped beneath the wreckage.

On August 17th, the finals for the Louis Vuitton Cup (and the honor to challenge the Cup owner USA) will start, with NZ racing against the winner of the Semifinals. This will be a best of 11 races (6 wins) and should be all settled by the end of the month, if not before.

Before the final Americas Cup competition starts in September, a significant number of youthful foreign-based teams will compete in AC45s to decide who is the best to date. Then the true FINAL for the Americas Cup itself (in AC72s) will start—when USA's Oracle crew will attempt to defend its prestigious title against the winner of the Louis Vuitton Cup for challengers.

As far as sheer performance, these boats (AC72s) are certainly pretty amazing if the reported figures are to be believed, and there's no reason not to.

The straight line course length for the Vuitton Cup is officially 15.41 miles or about 20 nautical miles sailing distance. In a recent race, the average wind was just 11.5 kt (gusting to 15 kt), yet these boats achieved average speeds of 21.96 kt (Luna Rossa) and 21.09 kt (Artemis) with maximum speeds reported as 37.1 kt for Luna and 34.5 kt for Artemis. That is clearly well over double wind speed while up on foils—almost 2½ times for Luna Rossa in fact. VERY impressive!

Although Artemis finished nearly 2 minutes behind Luna Rossa in their 2nd defeat, they are improving each time on the water, and 2 minutes is still less than the closest the Italians came to Team New Zealand in the first set of AC races—that was 2 minutes 19 seconds!
The 2nd Artemis boat has been nicknamed "Big Blue" for its distinctive blue hulls. It's good to keep in mind that due to their tragic accident, they only got this boat on the water July 24th for the first time, whereas the two other challengers have been sailing for well over 2 months. It's nice to hear that the crowd is giving them good support at least—so let's see what miracle they can come up with in the few final weeks of August, or is it really "too little too late"? Being down 2 already in the best of 7, certainly makes this a huge challenge for them, but take a few moments to understand what the team has been through of late: Watch the YouTube below.

Artemis II
Artemis II at speed
Artemis II flies across the Bay on first trial.
'Word on the waterfront', has it that the new Artemis Blue, while a much stronger boat, is now perhaps too heavy for the smaller winglets the boat has, to lift it out as quickly as either Luna Rossa or NZ Emirates. This would mean that they need the stronger winds to be competitive—and time is running out.

The 'Americas Cup' final, with Oracle (USA) defending the Cup against the top Challenger, is due to start the 2nd week of September. Watch for coverage on TV and YouTube.

May the best boat/crew win!!


FOOTNOTE: Some of the best YouTubes being posted are by John Navas…(but you just might want to turn off the sound tracks ;-)  Check out this list…


March 14, 2013

Well, the time ticks by and we are now only 3 months away from the start of the Louis Vuitton competition to select the final challenger and less than 6 months from the start of serious racing for the prestigious America's Cup itself!

So how are things looking?

First of all, the 'arena' at San Francisco is getting prepared for the 100s of thousands of visitors anticipated to visit the city this summer. With the racecourse stretching from Crissy Field along the city front to Pier 27, there will be many vantage points for fans and spectators to catch a glimpse of the action. Much of the racing will be viewable from the America's Cup Park (at Pier 27), which will be the center of attraction during the three months of the America's Cup season. A new amphitheater is also being built to hold some 10,000 spectators. If you'd like to learn more about what's involved in putting on such a complex event as this, reading the article published in a previous issue of the Wall Street Journal will help. [We are unable to provide a direct link to this, but if you Google "San Francisco Tries New Tack in Preparations for the America's Cup", the link should come up on top.]

If you want to see what TV coverage is planned for your area or country, check out this list:

Not to be forgotten, at the end of August after the Louis Vuitton Cup is over and the AC challenger decided, 60 youth sailors aged 19–24 will compete in the Red Bull Youth America's Cup. Ten teams from eight nations will compete in their AC45s, over 4 intense days of competition.

But what about the America's Cup teams themselves?

Well, Team Emirates New Zealand is still looking very impressive, but not resting on their laurels either. I think you will enjoy to see how they are offsetting their relative lack of funding (compared to the USA defenders), by working on many individual parts of the whole effort and crew fitness is certainly one.

Check out this video (link below) and fast-forward the slider for two impressive minutes on Crew Fitness, starting at 9:20 on the scale. There, David Slyfield the Emirates Team Trainer, bluntly says: "Physically, these boats have been described as 'man eaters'—a cross between throwing a cat in a washing machine and putting your arm through a meat grinder." But 'you have to do, what you have to do', as Grant Dalton, CEO of Team Emirates states, we must look after all these details "when your potential competitor has more money than God!" Not sure if God really works with cash, but you get the idea. If you continue on the video at 11:20, there's another interesting 2 minutes on 'video analysis'.


As I've anticipated and written about from the start, one of the main items of development are the foils, with their potential ability to hydrofoil the boat clear of the water. When the Swedish boat Artemis finally got to sail against the rebuilt Oracle AC72 recently in San Francisco Bay, they learnt a brutal reality, that their boat would not be competitive unless their foils were modified and enlarged to lift them clear—so it's 'back to the shed for mods' for Artemis, as they only have one boat to play with.


The Italian Team is the other team with only one boat, but realizing early on that they would not get up-to-par without a sparring partner, they made a deal with New Zealand to share a good part of early design work and in fact, have almost identical hulls. Luna Rossa has since sailed a fair amount against the hot New Zealand entry and will come to San Francisco, better knowing what it is up against.

So how is New Zealand learning what foils work best? As it's just too time consuming and expensive for them to ever sail their own AC72s against each other, they are working with two smaller cats, the SL33s—particularly for foil development. ETNZ has sailed their two SL33 for more than 6 months now, 4–6 hours a day! They've pushed these boats very hard and reached top speeds of 32 knots, which is pretty remarkable for a 33 footer. Check out this link for some inside info on this effort:


[The SL33 is a fast, lightweight, production cat designed by the Morrelli and Melvin team. They are built in Germany to high standards, using carbon fiber composite hulls with Nomex core. Just under 10 m long and having a 2-piece mast, they break down to fit in a 40' container for shipping world wide.]

While the standard SL33 uses curved dagger­boards, the ETNZ team have been able to use these hulls to experiment with foil additions and options, in order to find not only the optimum form solution to apply to their AC72, but also to learn how best to sail a cat on foils—so this 'under-the-radar' effort could really work well for them. While Team USA has two AC45s to train on, it appears that the smaller SC33s may have provided a more flexible base for foil experimenta­tion. Time will tell the story.


Here is ample evidence that Team Emirates has been testing a variety of foil configurations and evaluating their relative performance on their SL33 test platforms. Note the difference in the port and starboard daggerboards—one curved and one straight.

The AC72 is a boat unlike any seen in previous America's Cups. Powered by its tall wing sail and with the ability to hydrofoil, the AC72 can travel at more than double the windspeed. Here is what Luna Rossa skipper Max Sirena has to say: "We've sailed a couple of days in winds over 20 knots and it's a different game, the boatspeed gets up big time. You have to change the way you sail the boat. You have to be more careful and push less. But it's fantastic to sail this boat. It's emotional and stressful at the same time, but just an incredible feeling."

Recent video from New Zealand (see link below) is now showing that Team Emirates new boat is significantly faster than training partner Luna Rossa, as well as faster than its first AC72, now claiming 39k in just 17k of wind! So it looks like the Kiwi design team have done a fine job using the early data collected to refine their design. Just imagine, the closing speed of two boats coming towards each other on opposite gybes could be in the 60+k (100 ft/sec) range!! So, with only a month to go before they pack up and ship everything to San Francisco to prepare for the Louis Vuitton Cup, the excitement is certainly building as they hear the American defender Oracle‑2, is also starting to really fly.

Interestingly, the second boat for Team Emirates is now sporting a dagger board (with attached foil) that has a simple curve for the vertical part, compared to the more S‑shape used on the first boat. It could be that this is not only easier to raise and lower, but might be showing higher net lift than the first design.
This change has seemingly brought the foil design somewhat closer to the one being used by Oracle‑2.

Finally, a few added notes:

January 23, 2013

So how are things going with the America's Cup boats? Where do things stand as we close in on the end of the first sailing period for the AC 72s?

Let's first review what these 'sailing periods' are all about and what they might mean to the four teams that will be competing. [The once potential Korean entry, was finally, a no-show.]

As USA won the last America's Cup, it was for them to set up the new rules. In an attempt to keep costs down, the US committee decided to limit the number of sailing days within certain calendar months for all the teams. They allowed just 30 sailing days* between July 1st, 2012 and January 31st, 2013, with 45 days between February 1st and April 30th. From May 1st, it would be unlimited, until the Louis Vuitton cup races start between the three challengers, New Zealand, Italy and Sweden—the winner of which will race against USA in the Cup Race itself. If any of the teams have a 2nd boat, this can be launched from February 1st onwards and I understand that the sailing days*, can be shared between either of their boats.

*Interesting to note that 'a sailing day' is counted anytime a boat leaves the dock with its sailing crew and is no longer under tow—regardless of whether they sail for 1 hour or 10.

So far, this is roughly how many days the boats have sailed:
New Zealand (Emirates) 30 days; USA (Oracle) 8 days; Italy (Luna Rossa) 18 days; Sweden (Artemis) 14 days—making it very clear that NZ have a major edge in on-water practice and development to date.

As we all know, the US team was stopped dead in its tracks after just 8 days sailing, with its unscheduled capsize in San Francisco Bay and the other two boats, have had their problems with hull and/or rig issues that delayed their start. This has led to NZ having an upper hand in knowing what their boat can do and this knowledge has been immediately rolled into many small design changes for their second boat that they will start to sail in February. The Italian team has probably gained a little insight into 'where they are' as they were able to train a little with the Emirates in New Zealand—but they are still many days behind.

It has been said that 'originally, these boats were not primarily designed as foiling boats', but the experience in New Zealand is now clearly showing that if one does not tap the potential of foils and optimize their use, a competitor will soon fall far behind. The Official Rules do not help much here though, as there might even be a case to be made, that foils are not even permitted! To explain my point, let's look quickly at what is written and defined. First, there is no mention of 'foils' or 'foiling' in the Rules that I can find. Then Rule 1.4(e) actually states that daggerboard means a retractable appendage primarily used to affect leeway.

Rule 5.14 states that 'devices in, on or near any hull, rudder or daggerboard for purpose of altering waterflow of the boundary layer, are prohibited'. Of course, the boundary layer is the layer very close to the foil surface—but is that not what provides the lift in this case? Rules 8.6 & 9.6 confirm that, no trim or wing tabs are permitted to be moved during sailing. So raising and lowering the daggerboard with a foil on it are apparently, not being outlawed on that basis—even though foils were never mentioned in the rules. Looks like a loophole to me and who knows, we may see some legal challenge on this subject further down the road. All I see defined is that the maximum draft shall be 4.4 m for either rudder or daggerboard and that the maximum length of the daggerboard shall not exceed 7.0 m.

Regardless of this glance at the rules—all four boats are indeed now sailing with foils on their daggerboards and from what we've seen of the New Zealand boat to date, perhaps 'that part' of the daggerboard is currently throwing out a challenge to, just what IS 'the primary use' of the daggerboard on a AC72!

So I can see these 'un-specified' foils becoming a major topic this summer and they are certainly adding enormously to the performance of these boats—adding 5 k or more to their speed at times—which in past racing competitions would be totally unheard of for some fin or foil, that slips by the rules!

One point of interest is the way the International Jury responded when asked to rule last year on the way the dagger board was to be measured, as the NZ approach (also backed by the Italians) was being challenged by USA and Sweden.

"The International Jury took the view that teams were entitled to take a literal reading of the rules rather than have to take into account 'the perceived intention' of the rule writers". This would imply a very legal reading of the rules—following 'what is said' rather than 'what might be intended'.

It's also interesting to note that in 2012, one of the cup entrants (undefined), requested that the Measurement Committee look at a couple of possible designs for articulating foils. Here they are: foil configuration foil configuration

The US Measurement committee reportedly found no specific reason to ban the non-powered version. [The actuated one (somewhat as per Hydroptère) would never pass the rules though, as raising and lowering cannot be power-assisted for the AC72.] But the final word on this would have to come from the International Jury, and based on what is in (or not in) the 'written' rule, could overturn the Measurement Committee.

Personally, I have always liked the clever, progressive foil design of the 1st NZ boat (see my mention of this in past article on Foil Variations dated Nov 9th 2012) and now it is becoming clear that this team will be concentrating even more on their foil design than any fancy improvements of their wing sails .. the latter coming conservatively, from past experience with their C-Class cats. Whether the other boats will be able to successfully play 'catch-up' as far as foil development and efficiency, remains to be seen but I see this as a huge challenge for them.

To rub things in a little, as the 30‑day limit for the NZ boat approached, there was announcement of a major storm sweeping in, so, with the new boat soon to be launched, the NZ chiefs appear to have told the crew to take the boat out and drive it as hard as they dare—giving them an unprecedented chance to see what might break, if anything, and get a sense of what the top end performance might be.

Well, the rewarding thing for this boat and crew is that nothing serious DID break, no one was injured and the boat hit 42 k (48 mph!) over the ground for several minutes, while handling some pretty big waves for such a sophisticated and nominally fragile boat. With data from stress gauges etc, this is a great piece of information for them to finish their first 30‑day period with, and something the other teams cannot match at this point in the game.

NZ Crew

Here's a pic of the boat hitting a wave at high speed—and there are 5 crew members in that thick spray—all hanging on to winch pedestals no doubt!

This proves that their boat is both strong AND fast—a tough assignment for any on-the-edge design.

While on the subject of the Rules, it's worth mentioning that, unlike most racing classes, the AC72s have both a minimum weight (normal) AND a maximum weight!


Rule 5.10 clarifies the sailing weight is to be between 5700 and 5900 kg and even in Rule 18.1, that the total crew of 11 are to be between 957 and 1012 kg in full racing attire—giving only 255 kg total range from one boat to the other—an extremely small variation for a boat of 72 feet!

What this might mean is, that if a boat wants to add some fancy gear to improve efficiency (where not outlawed by the rules), then they might have to shave some weight off the hull structure and risk some potential failure should conditions get rough. Only time will tell which design chose the right trade-offs.

So what will the 2nd New Zealand boat be like? Well, from the little one can find out to date, the Kiwis are definitely sacrificing traditional rounded boat hull shape in order to get up on those foils as soon as possible. This means pushing the buoyancy down as low as possible in the hulls, to the point of making them virtually flat-bottomed and box-shaped—particularly at the bow where the initial lift will come from. They might also have added a little more volume to the bow with very slight increase in freeboard—just from glancing at the profiles. Of course, if the wind for the races that count were to be extremely low, then this form, which has relatively high surface area and friction, just might raise the speed at which they can start to foil and they might then lose out to more rounded hulls with lower basic friction. However, with that powerful wing sail, I don't personally see that as being much of a risk, and getting that long hull up off the water as soon as possible will allow their high efficiency foils to do their job. (Even the main hull of the W17 has this deep box-shape throughout, a form that indeed provides good lift with a narrow waterline, but the unit weight of this far shorter boat is inevitably much heavier.)

In order to get a sense of just how well the Kiwi boat is running on its foils, take a look at this YouTube. Here we get a view from an adjacent motorboat at full speed, and one cannot help but marvel at what has been achieved in such a short time period. Truly remarkable. www.youtube.com/watch?v=2_dBbb9-R50 (~2.5 mins)

And the Kiwi crew are not taking ANY thing for granted either. Check this next video to see how the crew are preparing themselves for that potentially dangerous fall from one high hull to the water, should their boat ever end up as Oracle did. Remember, these cats are 14 m (46') wide. www.youtube.com/watch?v=zSiLtzIaKkM

The Kiwis may not have the money behind their challenge that the defending Oracle team could come up with, but one has to sure admire their systematic approach and teamwork so far.

But it's not finished yet—there are still some 6 months to go, although at this point in the preparation, the New Zealand challenger is clearly setting the pace. Stay tuned!

To get another sense of what it's like to sail on a AC72, you may enjoy this report from Sail-World.

See Disclaimer…
Mike Waters has no direct connection to the America's Cup organizers. Views given are totally those of the writer and may disagree with official releases or other published data. While information has been reasonably researched and believed to be correct, there can be no guarantee of absolute accuracy. His opinions are purely personal ones covering his assessment of the situation based on data currently publicly available.


November 9, 2012:
Wing sailWell, the 4th AC72 is now on the water! The Swedish ARTEMIS passed a 2-week inspection after tow-tests produced a few strange noises—and they'll soon be sailing.
Here's their wing being wheeled out, prior to being raised and installed with a crane.

Meanwhile, the New Zealand entry has completed 16 days of sailing and with lots of data from that, has disappeared back into a shed for about 2 weeks of 'fine‑tuning' based on the data. With some 'tweaks' and added fairings, we can expect this already fast boat to become a little faster. The Italian boat has only just started sailing, but it will be interesting to observe how she does in her planned training runs against the improved New Zealand boat.

In one interview, it was interesting to hear Gary Jobson comment that these AC72 challengers are apparently only permitted 30 days of sailing prior to some deadline. That date is apparently January 31st 2013. They are then permitted 45 days up to May 1st with unlimited times after that. But then, the more they sail, the higher the risk of damage that could end all their efforts, so it's a gamble after May 1st. Gary further commented that boat speeds (in certain conditions) were already reaching TWICE wind speed.
As time ticks down, it now starts to look as though the Korean entry might be a 'no-show'—and should that be the case, there will be just three challengers (NZ, Italy and Sweden), not four.

So for now, we have:
ORACLE (USA) — after only a couple of days sailing, she's now under repair and re-evaluation after her premature and rather disastrous capsize.
EMIRATES (NZ) — now hauled out and being 'tweaked' after 16 days of impressive sailing.
LUNA ROSSA (Italy) — still in her initial sailing shakedown
ARTEMIS (Sweden) — just starting to sail. (Rumored to have taken 70,000 hours to build.)

Although a long way to go, the NZ team looks to have the edge right now.

Foil variations
FoilsAs predicted in an earlier post, we can now start to see (and guess) that the boats have initially gone with different main foils. USA and Italy, both seem to have straight foils but with a sharp 90 deg bend at the bottom to work as a hydrofoil for lift. It's not totally clear, but it appears that the Italians have that lower hydrofoil surface slightly pointing aft, whereas Oracle appears to run it more straight athwartships. The Swedish Artemis appears to have foregone the horizontal foil but has a foil curved over all its length. It might not create as much ultimate lift as the 'L' foil, but it would seem to be at less risk to create negative effects at some trim angles.
Finally, New Zealand seem to have the most complex design, with a curved board AND an 'L' blade at the bottom. This means that when the board is down, the 90 degree tip foil is no longer horizontal—but more like a vee. This should somewhat cushion its effect in waves and make the foil more effective over its full immersed length. Rather clever.
So no two boats are exactly alike in the foil category but in all cases, the exact positioning and built-in attack angle is clearly VERY critical, as the rules do not permit it to be changed while underway.

Young dinghy sailor joins ORACLE crew.
Something many sailors have long believed, is that the best skippers are those who start and initially sail a LOT in very small boats.

What Tom Slingsby has done, is seriously race LASERS (to win a Gold Medal in London this year). But all of a sudden, as a noted 'super wind reader', he now finds he's a tactician on one of the ORACLE boats! That's a pretty amazing transition! See Golden boy Slingsby taking America's Cup in stride.

Fouls and Protests
Another interesting aspect of these boats, is that new technology is changing the rules and making them more finite than existed in the past. Racing sailors will know very well that basic 'right-of-way' rules change when a boat is within 3 boat-lengths of a racing mark. But it was left to the boat being fouled to prove that distance—a very difficult thing to be accurate about, especially so when speeds are high.
But for these AC45s (and hopefully the AC72s also), they are equipped with a very precise satellite positioning system plus a unique system of lights, whereby the race committee boats can rapidly communicate with the boats racing. The lights can be seen in 3 locations; the rear mounted 'Christmas Tree', another on the bowsprit tip, plus a couple on the main cross beam.
LightIf a boat considers itself fouled, a red light is turned on to let all know they are protesting. The committee then makes a quick decision and the fouling boat is quickly advised of an offense through a blue light remotely lit on their boat at all 3 locations. This confirms they have been penalized and the agreed penalty is typically to ease off and fall back 2 boat-lengths behind their adversary. When their GPS indicates that this gap has been reached, the blue light goes out and a green light indicates they can get back up to racing speed again. If they are over early at the start line, there's typically a 3 boat-length penalty indicated in much the same manner, a penalty that increases the longer a boat delays taking it.
In addition, all courses are set with limiting boundaries marked by buoys. As a boat approaches that 'unseen' boundary, a yellow light starts to flash. It blinks faster the closer you get, going solid when you're over—instigating another penalty. Within 3 boat-lengths of the line (42 m for an AC45), the boat there has right-of-way over someone else coming in—even if they are on starboard tack!
It may take a long time before the weekend racer will see such sophistication for their local races but it's something that will most likely grow in use over time.

The LIVELINE software, plus added video cameras and mics, now combine to make this an incredible experience for the viewer and in my opinion, this will change public attitude towards all sailing for ever—regardless of what boat is sailed. Just watch some of the YouTube videos on the official Americascup.com site and I think you'll see what I mean.


November 1, 2012: The Italian Team Luna Rossa has now launched its AC72 in Auckland, New Zealand. Their boat is closely based on the NZ one and they will train with them. The Italians are expected to be serious competitors for the Louis Vuitton Cup, this being their 4th AC challenge. Their new AC72 reportedly took 52,000 man‑hours to complete, with the platform, foils and beams taking the largest chunk of that; the carbon-fiber hulls taking 33% and the hi-tech wingsail 23%.
Luna Rossa crew members along with skipper Max Sirena, have already been training on their AC45s and they've shown to be a potentially competitive team, winning two of the earlier World Series events—though falling back at the last event in San Francisco.

Another exciting development is a new World Youth America's Cup event to be held in AC45s, with the very top young sailors in the world coming together at the beginning of September 2013, to race in San Francisco Bay, just before the full-blown AC72 America's Cup itself.
Officially called the 'Red Bull Youth America's Cup', this will open up new opportunities for talented young sailors to become involved in future America's Cup challenges. But getting in will not be easy. These youths can either be already affiliated with the current AC45 World Series, or they can apply to qualify through a long and tough Selection Series. The only other route is/was with hard cash, by purchasing their own AC45 and registering a team! But application entries closed Oct 31 and the first Selection Series trials will be in February 2013 (in San Francisco), with the aim to have the very finest all trained-up for an exciting final series in September with nearly 20 countries involved in the initial races. This initiative should pay big dividends down the road, re public interest in the event and the corresponding flow of capital from new sponsors.

This article in the NY Times might also interest you: The America's Cup and its new youth


October 22 2012: Team Luna Rossa (Italy) AC72 is now due to be launched this Friday (Oct 26). They will train with Emirates Team, NZ, in Auckland this winter.

Team Artemis (Sweden) just launched their AC72, but while doing some pre-tests under a fast tow, they heard some hull (connection?) noises that they want to check out, so have hauled the boat out for detailed inspection. The chief team officer, Laurent Esquier, apparently said that: "carbon fibre, the primary construction material, is a strange animal. You hear noises and you just don't know. So we need to do our due diligence and first assess the integrity of the structure." —before mounting the wingsail, that is. This has delayed the christening for now.

Questions & Answers:

Thoughts on design of the AC72
Use of Cup as a Trophy
Nationality of Crews for AC
1 November 2012

Thoughts on design of the AC72

QUES: As a designer/architect yourself, do you have any personal thoughts about the design of the new AC boats—particularly related to the Oracle capsize?
RH, Rhode Is

ANS: Although the sheer size of these boats and their technology is TOTALLY outside any previous experience of mine, it's hard not to have a few personal thoughts and viewpoints—so here goes. Feel free to take this with a pinch of salt ;-)

In contrast to the AC45 that is effectively a one-design boat, the AC72 permits some variation between boats. For one thing, we will likely see some variations in the foils—especially after the spectacular capsize by ORACLE 1. It appears that, while the foils may permit hydro-foiling, the rules apparently do not allow dynamic control of these foils on the water, and this may have contributed to the capsize. The AC72 also has an extremely high aspect rig—1.8 times the boat length as compared to 1.6 for the AC45 and when one combines that with the gusty weather on San Francisco Bay, one certainly risks exceeding design limits.
Shearwater 1 CatamaranAlthough it is unclear to me if this would be permitted, it seems to me that some form of bow deflector could help prevent the nose dive that looks eminent with that long, straight keel. I was made to think back to the first experiments with the catamaran by the Prout brothers in the UK in the early 1950s, when they quickly learnt about pitch-poling. In this case, they solved the issue with short, angled deflectors on the bow—generally on both sides of each hull. (Later, they added more forward buoyancy.) I am also not personally convinced that the wave-piercing bow used on the AC45, is overall the preferred solution for the AC72. On a shorter boat, I can see that this might permit a pitching bow to lift out of a wave with minimum of resistance. But these boats will not be racing in open ocean conditions, so the longer boat will pitch much less and in the video of the capsize, it looked like the long, straight bows were driven under as much by their own form, as from the wind on their tall rig. (After all, the boat was sailing fast somewhat away from the wind.)
AC72If you drive that long bow into solid water at close to 30k, it would appear to me to actually drive the bow down, rather than lift it up. This may be a very fast shape for flat water, but that's not so easily found in SF Bay! If they don't accept some forward hydroplanes, then a little more buoyancy up forward, especially at the deck area, might have saved the ORACLE flip—at the expense of a tad less top speed. But it's easier to observe these things after the fact ;-)
The AC45 has a generally similar hull form, but in this case, they have a mobile crew weight representing over 23% of the total weight that they can bring aft—whereas on the AC72, this important mobile crew weight, only represents about 14% of the total weight. That's an important difference to control trim in extreme conditions as any small boat sailor well knows.
Not that a capsize was totally unexpected. Apparently each crew member is equipped with a 20-minute cartridge of oxygen within their clothing, 'just in case' they are trapped under a boat that has flipped! For the ORACLE crew, they must be feeling very fortunate that this gizmo was not needed and that, despite the height that some of the crew found themselves and the deceleration involved, no one was hurt during their fall.

But it would seem very unlikely that we've seen the end of such accidents—especially when the serious racing starts. The bottom line though, is that all these teams have hired LOADS of experience and I'm sure they will look at all the options permitted within the rules. I cannot help but wonder what variations the Korean team will finally appear with, being as they are now the only team left who have yet to 'play their hand'.

...mike Nov 2012

Ever wondered if these developments with rigid wingsails might roll over to more accessible sailboats? Read more about deep aerofoils in Mike's article on Mast-Rig options for the future.

26 October 2012

Use of Cup as a Trophy

QUES: I like your new page on the America's Cup Race. Good going!
But do you know why is it referred to as a 'cup' when it is actually a jug or ewer?
Barb, NS

ANS: While I'm no expert on this sort of history, I initially thought this might date back to Victorian times in Britain, when winning a major competitive event was celebrated with a drink—probably starting with the use of silver goblets—though athletic Romans and Greeks have been depicted drinking from large bowls way before that. (Even today, champagne is still being sprayed around various winners circles—from Grand-Prix races to the Tour de France.)

As fancy silver jugs were often presented to the winners in Victorian times, it would not seem unusual for the Trophy presented to the crew of the boat 'America' in 1851, to look like a large jug—with its added decoration adding prestige to it. A few years later (~1872), we find the famous trophy created for the British Open Golf Championship that was actually a fancy jug for claret wine—being as the dark red wine was often drunk by 'the elite' in society. This trophy is now commonly called "The Claret Jug".

About the same time in the US, we had the song about "The Little Brown Jug" and such an earthenware jug became the prestigious trophy for the American College Football rivalry between the U of Minnesota and U of Michigan.

Even today, it is not at all uncommon to present an engraved pewter beer tankard as a trophy—so the connection between a 'drinking vessel' and a 'trophy' continues.


Back in biblical times, the 'chalice' was a large goblet or cup—commonly with two handles—and as one was commonly associated with The Last Supper and the disciples, it became known as 'The Holy Grail'. That implication of 'the ultimate goal' could make it a natural to be selected as a trophy.

But further research on this, has confirmed my belief that this goes back even further, to the use of the original two-handled jugs for olive oil or wine called Amphorae. These were as common in early times as a flat wood pallet is today, and were mostly used for transport and were so cheap, that they'd be broken up after what they contained was delivered and used. Piles of archeological remains show that such jugs originally date back to even 9000 BCE in the Mediterranean area and to 6000 BCE in China. But how does this relate to a trophy?

Well, records show that Greek Olympian winners were presented with an Amphora filled with wine or choice olive oil—so that's probably the first link with a cup or 'drinking vessel', being used as a trophy. They even found one dated around 600 BCE that was engraved 'Prize from Athens' and some have figures of athletes painted on them that lends weight to this theory. See: Panathenaic prize amphora on Wikipedia.

24 October 2012

Nationality of Crews for AC

QUES: As I can clearly hear Aussie voices amongst the crew of the US boat Oracle, can you tell me what makes an Italian entry for the 2013 America's Cup, different from say, a Swedish one?
Bob, VT

ANS: To be frank, not much—and arguably, 'not enough'—this time around! If you read the governing Protocol issued by the Defenders who control such things, there is clearly no requirement for ANY member of the crew to be from the country that entered the team for the competition. The only thing I've found is that, 'the hulls are to be laminated in the country that enters the boat' and that a recognized yacht club from that country, registers the challenge. The latter becomes important if they win, as that club is then responsible for the racing and location of the next America's Cup—sometime in the next 5 years.

What must be appreciated is that the team that wins the cup each time, has a high control over the constantly changing rules and along with, to some degree, the first official challenger—Italy in this case—they can change things a lot, for the next America's Cup challenge. This freedom was primarily defined in the conditions ('Deed of Gift') spelled out in 1887 and has been there ever since. Being as there is generally only one team named from each country represented, this also means that the winning country gets a say also. So the DEFENDER (USA in this case) has the upper hand and it's one reason that 'The Cup' has stayed in the US for most of its history!

But something important changed for this year. It was realized that 'this old cup' would not last unless sponsors were found, as costs are sky-rocketing and sponsors want the public to watch this event. So the new rules are aimed at giving each team a fair chance to keep the racing as close as possible. Also, by choosing a 72-foot hi‑tech catamaran, the speeds achieved will likely be far higher than ever seen before for such a public sailing event and there will clearly be the risk of 'thrills and spills' that also tend to attract the general public.

Personally however, I hope the AC45 World Series continues to bloom and that enough individuals from countries all around the globe will gain the experience they need to sail the larger boats. Then, perhaps, the new winner will redefine the rules so that each team entry will have a closer tie to the country it represents. But for 2013, it's the competition and close racing that counts, so stay tuned!

Note: Mike Waters has no direct connection to the America's Cup organizers. Views given are totally those of the writer and may disagree with official releases or other published data. While info has been reasonably researched and believed to be correct, there can be no guarantee of absolute accuracy. His opinions are purely personal ones covering his assessment of the situation based on data currently publicly available.