America’s Cup: Wings, foils, drag

Published on March 8th, 2013

Behind the scenes at Oracle Team USA, Joseph Ozanne crunches numbers using mind-numbing equations all in the name of a faster time around the racecourse for his team’s AC72. Ozanne is the team’s wing design leader and is also responsible for the performance prediction functions.

Much of his work in the current campaign involves the daggerboards, which he believes will be critical to a team’s success in the 34th America’s Cup. Now on his third campaign with Oracle, the 34-year old Frenchman has had plenty of experience working with the best in the game.

Is the wing more important that the foils on the 72s?

“No. You need to consider that the foils are now the main driver of performance on these boats. It’s critical to have it right. Last Cup I was a wing designer, and then everybody believed that the wing was the key but that’s not true. The reality is that on this boat, the multihull, we try to minimize the drag. That’s the goal overall. Where you can really make big gains is under the water, and you really need to have it correct. The foils and the windage are two areas where you have to focus because boats are going 40 knots, and the faster you go [the more] you’re going to create drag. The most efficient way to do that is to lift the boat to reduce the volume of the floats, so you need to lift your boat out of the water. You can do that with foils, but you can’t do that with the wing because it is vertical.”

Sailing World, full interview

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