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What in the America’s Cup World?

What used to be an America’s Cup “wingding,” with a focus on winged keels and bulb shapes, has turned into new AC75 boat launches that range from “that looks odd” to a “where did that come from?” bizarre hull shape from Mars, as six new designs have come our way over the last few weeks.

America’s Cup 37 had some surprises in store when CEO Grant Dalton from Emirates Team New Zealand and the AC Event Authority packed their bags from Auckland and left for Barcelona, Spain, for bags full of money that weren’t coming from the New Zealand government.

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli
Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli just looks fast, even if their AC75 is standing still!
© 2024 Ivo Rovira/ Americas Cup

Designers are trying to keep pace with the Kiwis, with radical attempts to not only keep their boats afloat, but hopefully make them fly at a moment’s notice. Last time around, in 2021, there were races when the boats were stuck in displacement mode and couldn’t get up and foil if their lives depended on it. It was a sad sight watching these high-tech wonders helplessly waddle around in the water like a wingless duck.

Not this time. Though the new class of AC75s don’t fly high, they are foiling at low altitude, just inches above the water, approaching 50 knots over the choppy, lumpy-gravy seas on the Spanish Mediterranean coast.

Samo Vidic / Alinghi Red Bull Racing
No, it’s not Shamrock IV. It’s the radical Red Bull Alinghi AC75!
© 2024 Samo Vidic / Alinghi Red Bull Racing

Who knows what September and October will bring? As the Louis Vuitton Selection Series gets started in earnest just before Labor Day weekend, one team will be gone quicker than a cat’s kazoo!* [polite slang] (Notice that the British are missing from my photos. Just saying ….)

It was assumed that the French, who were late to the event, would be the first to go. Not anymore! Their purchased Kiwi design package is a game changer. Not only did ETNZ leave them with a nearly identical copy of their own new AC75, but in many ways team Orient Express has become a defense surrogate for New Zealand by allowing the Kiwis, who have to sit out the Louis Vuitton races, to gather data on the performance of the French team against the other challengers.

Orient Express Team
The French Orient Express ETNZ “Defense” team and design is rolled out for the first time. It is a game changer.
© 2024 Alexander Champy-McLean / Orient Express Racing Team

But it is a two-edged sword. The challengers can do the same! Anyway, let’s take a quick look at what we know so far.

There were two christenings of consequence, beginning with the Americans and ending with the Kiwis.

The New York Yacht Club’s American Magic, in sleek gray and white colors with navy blue trim and the bright-red Mahou logo painted on its foil arms, made a splash and a sail with their Scott Ferguson-designed AC75, revealing several interesting features.

NYYC Vice Commodore Clare Harrington paid a surprise visit to Barcelona to christen the AC75 and reveal the somewhat revolutionary new boat with an old name, Patriot. Yes, that is correct. It is Patriot 2.0, though one could really say it is 4.0 after the initial design, then the crash and burn, then the AC37’s new rules modification, and now spanking-new and recently arrived from Green International Airport in Rhode Island. Patriot 2.0 was fitted with a new pair of “boots” [new lighter foils with an increase in span to 4.5m] on the set of slightly asymmetric race foils. The deck layout is rather unique, putting the helms and trimmers side by side and well forward, with the cyclors [replacing grinders] facing aft.

New York Yacht Club AC boat Patriot
Patriot 2.0 hits the water off Barcelona.
© 2024 Alex Carabi / America's Cup

American Magic has gone for very sculpted, almost harlequin-style foils blended into a sharp, stubby bulb with an aggressive point. The endplates are a work of art, curving upward and squared at the top, while the aero package in the foil arms to meet minimum weight requirements is sculpted asymmetrically. Clearly there’s further thought and evaluation that the team will need to complete before making any final decisions on race foil setup.

“The NYYC has never wavered from its core purpose of ensuring international competition at the highest level of skill and performance. That is our tradition,” said Harrington. “However, the launch of Patriot also signifies innovation, blending two distinct elements: tradition and innovation. And so, I bring to American Magic the heartfelt wishes of all 3,400-plus members of the NYYC for your success in the upcoming competition, maintaining the club’s tradition through your inspired innovation.”

“We followed our own design path with Patriot as we pushed the limits of the AC75 rule while tailoring for the Barcelona venue,” said chief designer Scott Ferguson. “Our overall philosophy is minimalistic, as we’ve tried to squeeze down our volumes to the base minimum while still fitting the crew and systems into the boat. There are tradeoffs for every decision regarding performance, weight and energy.”

Patriot 2.0 took an unexpected nosedive at speed today, sustaining damage and requiring pumps to be put aboard. It served as a sad reminder of what happened three years ago when Patriot 1.0 capsized and almost sank.

“The water inflow was due to the jib track, which runs athwartships under the foredeck, not yet being fully sealed. When the fairings that cover the track opening were torn away, water was able to pour through the jib track opening,” said team president Terry Hutchinson.

There was no visible damage when Patriot 2.0 was hauled from the water and there were no injuries to the crew. However, it is believed that co-helmsman Tom Slingsby was struck on the helmet by a piece of fairing during the nosedive, “but he’s good, talking and smiling and making jokes,” commented Hutchinson. “The water level inside the yacht was not able to get to the lithium batteries, which have caught fire on other competitors who have suffered water ingress.”

Emirates Team New Zealand
Emirates Team New Zealand sail their new AC75 Taihoro on the golden waters of the Hauraki Gulf.
© 2024 Emirates Team New Zealand

The Kiwis’ new boat was christened in Maori tradition, save the driving rainstorm, as Dalton invited past Prime Minister Helen Clark to do the honors. Iwi manaaki Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei blessed the boat and gifted her the name Taihoro at the team’s base in Auckland’s Wynyard Point.

New Zealand Christening
New Zealand christens their new AC75. The champagne wasn’t the only thing that was pouring!
© 2024 America's Cup / AC37 Event Limited

Taihoro in Maori means “to move swiftly as the sea between both sky and earth. Taihoro-Nukurangi captures the dynamic essence of the sea (Tai), the concept of speed (Horo), the Earth’s movement (Nuku), and the expanse of the sky (Rangi).

Taihoro symbolizes the boat’s evolutionary journey, which started with Te Rhutai as it represents a transcendence of traditional boundaries, creating a connection between the sea and sky. This vessel is more than a mere craft; it harnesses the power of nature, seamlessly transitioning between realms. Taihoro is not just traversing the ocean; it bridges the gap between sea and sky in its quest for victory.”

So, stay tuned. The best is yet to come!

*Kazoo is a polite form of a common slang word used in some English-speaking countries.

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1 Comment

  1. David Groverman 1 month ago

    Thanks! Totally interesting! Looking forward to the competition.
    David G, formerly skipper of the Downeast 32, Wind Spirit (a different sort of boat)

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