AC34: Letting the cat out of the bag

Published on August 15th, 2013

The foiling of the AC72 has been both a blessing and a curse. The sight of a fully foiling 72-foot catamaran, and the speed it develops, may never get old. However, with teams still mastering the foils, the span between fast and slow can be immense.

“In a foiling gybe, you lose 10 to 15 meters,” explained Rod Davis, coach for Emirates Team New Zealand. “If you drop off the foils during a gybe, the loss grows to 100 to 150 meters. You can’t expect to nail every gybe, but you want to keep your percentages up, which for us is above a 90% success rate.”

The Kiwis were the first team to demonstrate their foiling skills, but when the photos appeared on the Internet, the initial reaction was that the photos had to have been altered. But they weren’t, and the advantages of fully foiling certainly caused a stir among the competing designers.

“We let the cat out of the bag too soon on that one,” shared Davis. “We would have liked for no one to have known we were foiling. Even now. It got out earlier than we wanted, and now the other teams have done a nice job of closing that gap down. But we still seem to currently hold a slight advantage.”

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