23 July 2015
Understanding the America’s Cup
The Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series is a race featuring the best sailors in the world, who are competing on foiling, wing sailed catamarans (an updated version of the AC45 raced in the last series). This is the first stage of competition in the 2017 America’s Cup and begins in the summer of 2015 featuring all of the America’s Cup teams, the circuit is an early opportunity to put points on the board that carry forward into the next stage of the competition.
It is also one of the biggest and most prestigious sporting events in Britain this year. The spectacular four-day competition sees America’s Cup racing back in the Solent for the first time since the inaugural regatta in 1851. Six international teams will compete, in high-speed AC45 catamarans which ‘fly’ several feet above the water on hydrofoils, and the action is expected to be intense.
Entries include America’s Cup Defender, Oracle Team USA, skippered by the Cup-winning Skipper Jimmy Spithill. They will face home team Land Rover BAR, skippered by Sir Ben Ainslie, who will be flying the Union Jack and looking forward to putting on a good show in front of a home crowd with their team base in Portsmouth. There’s likely to be plenty of British support for Artemis Racing, skippered by GBR’s Iain Percy, in a Swedish-backed team with numerous Olympic gold medallists.
Overall ranking position in the Series determines the starting points score of the teams in the America’s Cup Qualifiers in 2017. All teams have been given an opportunity to host events in their home countries. At least four events are scheduled in 2015, including:
Portsmouth, Great Britain | 23th – 26th July 2015
Gothenburg, Sweden | 27th – 30th August 2015
Hamilton, Bermuda | 16th – 18th October 2015
Four to six events are expected in 2016, including a second event in Portsmouth in July and a Regatta in Chicago during the summer.
What boats are used?
America’s Cup World Series racing will take place in one design AC45’s, with standard hulls, crossbeams, daggerboards, rudders, rigging and wings. Each team will need at least one “class legal” AC45 for racing and their youth team. For development, the teams will continue modifying other AC45’s to test ideas for their AC62. Until the AC62’s are launched around September 2016, we may see a lot of interesting AC45 development.
It’s a cool boat, what with Formula 1 designers brought in to design the wings do you expect any less? The boats are also sailed on a knife edge with such find margins, so any mistakes and you’re swimming.
Keeping costs down?
The Protocol strictly limits the number of daggerboards and wings a team can build for their AC62 boats, but allows an unlimited number of daggerboards and wings on their development AC45’s. In fact, as long as the lower part of the hulls is the same shape as an AC45, they can build anything they want to test – a boat with wider beam, aerodynamic crossbeams, cockpits and grinding stations, daggerboard and rudder rake controls, you name it.
We’ll probably see daggerboards optimised for stable foiling on the one design AC45’s. But the teams will test a wide range of shapes on their development AC45’s.
We think that cup holders, Oracle team USA will produce thrilling sailing to watch however with it being home waters, we are backing the Brits and it would not surprise us if Ben Ainslie’s Land Rover BAR came out of the blocks running and secure victory in the first event of the year. All eyes will be watching.