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The America’s Cup Gears Up for Barcelona

Yes, this is an America’s Cup year. Much has changed since the era of AC foiling started more than a decade ago with the 2013 Cup on San Francisco Bay. Ellison and Coutts have moved on to their SailGP league while the Kiwis are back in the role of Defender.

The last days of training for the AC75 champion Te Rehutai.
© 2024 Job Vermeulen/AC37

All eyes will be on the prize later this year in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain, as the 37th America’s Cup promises to knock your socks off since, as we all know, the Spanish know how to put on a party!

It will be the AC75 foiling monohulls again, albeit a little lighter and a bit more machine than man as batteries have taken three more jobs away from sailors (grinders).

Cyclers are in play again for the first time since 2017, when New Zealand “cycled” the America’s Cup away from the Americans in Bermuda.

This time around the Kiwis will attempt to defend the Cup from five challengers: Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli (Italy), American Magic (USA), Orient Express (France), INEOS Britannia (Great Britain), and, making a return in grand style, Ernesto Bertarelli’s Red Bull Alinghi (Switzerland).

The best sailors in the world will be on the water, including Peter Burling, Blair Tuke, Sir Ben Ainslie, Tom Slingsby, Jimmy Spithill and a multitude of other Cup veterans and Olympic champions.

2024 America's Cup teams
Six teams will be competing for the Auld Mug.
© 2024 America's Cup

Louis Vuitton returns as title sponsor, and this time there is a Women’s America’s Cup Event and a Youth America’s Cup. Those competitions will be “sailed” in AC40s, which have been used by the America’s Cup teams for the ACWS and for two-boat testing as well.

The AC40 for all practical purposes is a battery-powered remote-control boat that sails, but it bears little resemblance to an actual sailboat. It was voted as the 2023 Boat of the Year by World Sailing, but in my opinion they need to rip apart the cockpits and open up the race deck to make it more of a sailboat than a remote-control toy.

Like their bigger sister, the AC75, they are “powered” by a twin-skinned mainsail. If you’re looking for spinnakers, good luck: There aren’t any. Foil “blades” have become the “winged keels” of this generation and era. The design advances are significant and secret, despite new reconnaissance rules.

The selection series trials begin almost as soon as the Paris Olympics wrap up in August. Many of the male and female athletes will be flashing their newfound gold, silver or bronze hardware at the cameras and competitors, as Olympic medals confer weight and prestige, as the Auld Mug does.

Barcelona was chosen by Grant Dalton and the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron (RNZYS), the Defender/Trustees of the America’s Cup, having dominated the event since first winning it in 1995.

The first-generation AC75s can be used for training purposes by all teams in the run-up to the 37th America’s Cup, but there are strict rules on further development of many of the appendages.

INEOS Britannia’s “ugly duckling” of an AC75 at speed.
© 2024 Ugo Fonalla / AC37

An updated “Version 2” of the AC75 Class Rule will have larger foils, to promote quicker lift and faster flight. The boats will be lighter, and on board, the electronics, hydraulics and software systems will be vastly upgraded.

Several of the elements are strictly one-design, and the teams are allowed to build only one new AC75. These high-tech wonders are expected to fly at unprecedented ride heights at speeds over 50 knots on what have been characterized as intense, lumpy-gravy seas.

Continue reading in Latitude 38‘s March issue.

2 Comments

  1. Ric 2 months ago

    The real racing will be the J class yachts which will also be there….That’s the only reason I might go….

  2. Joe Chaps 2 weeks ago

    Your pics are of AC40’s… Need an upgrade brotha.. AC37 will be an epic event… The 12 metres will make a competitive appearance, The J class boats will compete in their regatta, The AC40’s will host youth and women’s tournaments, And the AC75’s are now testing for the final event for the cup.. True to be entertaining for the old salt displacement fans to the high tech foiling fans.. https://www.facebook.com/groups/2411813889062536

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