numbers appear to defy logic as well. Instead
of traditional cloth sails attached to a mast,
the America’s Cup yachts used fixed rigid
wing sails. This enabled the boats to exploit
the Bernoulli principle—the same thing that
makes planes fly—by creating a difference in
pressure on either side of the sail, generating
lift. In simpler terms, a wing that is parallel to
the ground creates upward lift, while a perpendicular wing creates forward lift, or in this
case, forward motion through the water.
But moving through the water is a problem
in itself. The AC72 weighed seven tonnes. To
get around the challenge of pushing all that
boat through the water, the yachts used hydrofoils that extended beneath them, enabling
them to sail without any part of the boat’s hull
in the water.
After reaching around 20 knots, the boats
pop up out of the water so the weight of
the boat is carried on the carbon fibre foils,
which can take up to 15 tonnes of pressure.
By being entirely out of the water, the reduc-
tion in drag allows the boat go between 10
and 15 per cent faster.
What can we expect to see in Bermuda?
For the 2017 America’s Cup, teams have
chosen to race a smaller version of the speed
demons that carved up San Francisco Bay in
2013: the AC48. While the AC48s will not
be seen until the finals of the America’s Cup in
2017, you can get a pretty good idea of what
they look like during the America’s Cup World
Series this October, when teams will be racing
In the meantime, Oracle USA, Britain’s Ben
Ainsle Racing (BAR), and Sweden’s Artemis
have already begun their training in miniature foiling catamarans that require just two
people to sail. Artemis and Oracle are using
Phantoms, while BAR is using a Nacra 500.
Between now and 2017, teams will be using
these to test out the new technologies that will
be featured on the AC48s in the finals.
Before the new tech makes it onto the
Who should I root for?
final boat, however, teams will be testing on
“tricked out” AC45s. Oracle already appear
one step ahead of the competition after unveil-
ing the AC45 Turbo in April, a “tricked out”
version of the standardised yachts that will be
raced in October. Not only does this allow
them more time to learn about the race course
and the wind conditions, they’re also able to
test out the cutting-edge technology that will,
fingers crossed, get them across the finish line
By all means, go with your gut, or national
allegiance, but at the end of the day a win for
Oracle is a win for Bermuda. If Oracle are
able to dominate the competition, and find
Bermuda to be everything they hoped for when
they chose our home as the venue for the 2017
America’s Cup, there’s a very good chance the
next America’s Cup will be held here as well. And
that’s something we all should be hoping for.
From the Crow’s Nest | The SCene