F50s appear ready for SailGP season
Published on December 26th, 2018
The ramp up for the inaugural SailGP season has included the successful trials of the supercharged F50 boats in New Zealand’s Northland region. All six national teams have had valuable training time on the new class of boat over the past two months, testing both their skill and validating the systems on the first two boats to be launched which now have a total of 27 days on the water.
In just 50 days, all six F50s will be lined up on Sydney Harbour, ready for SailGP’s inaugural season opener to begin on February 15.
The sea trials were run by SailGP’s technical team and provided the first chance for the teams to take the reins of these advanced foiling catamarans. It was also the fruition of over a year’s worth of work by Core Builders Composites, which began the construction process for the fleet of six identical boats in September 2017.
“This is incredibly exciting,” said SailGP CEO Russell Coutts who, with Larry Ellison, launched the pioneering SailGP in October. “This F50 is a major step forward for high-performance racing. It’s incredible how rapidly foiling technology has developed over the past 10 years and it’s exciting to imagine where it could be in five years’ time.
“To get six of these high-tech boats completed has been a huge undertaking,” said Mark Turner, managing director of Core Builders Composites. “Our shared services team will also manage all of the logistics, any major repairs and maintenance for all teams as we travel around the world to the different venues.
“We are delighted with how the boats performed and with how the sea trials have gone, and we were able to stress test our resources and equipment before sending our first containers to Sydney.”
A top speed of 49.7 knots was achieved by Olympic champion Tom Slingsby and his Australia SailGP Team, attained in 17 knots of wind in Bream Bay. Overall, the F50 is expected to have a 12-15 percent performance improvement from its predecessor, the AC50 used during the 2017 America’s Cup. Once fully developed, the F50 should reach speeds well into the 50-knot range.
“With these boats, we are really pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in sailing, and we proved that with the speeds that we achieved during the sea trials,” said Slingsby. “It’s going to be really challenging, particularly in the early events of season one when the teams have not had many training hours. I like the fact that these are hard boats to sail, because it creates a true test of skill, athleticism, and team work.”
During the trials, more than 45 people were involved in the daily operation, with bases at Northport and Marsden Maritime Holdings. The four-hour daily sailing sessions involved the teams performing a number of manoeuvres to test the boat’s structure and equipment, including the light- and heavy-air hydrofoils, control systems, safety equipment, battery, and hydraulic pumps.
“We’re extremely happy with the result of our sea trials in New Zealand, which was a fantastic host for this critical building and testing phase for SailGP,” said Brad Marsh, SailGP tech team operations manager. “We seamlessly integrated in to the Northland community, using the many resources available to get this project over the finish line. Northport and the entire Northland region played a large role in our success, and we can’t thank the people of New Zealand enough for the support.”
Established in 2018 and headquartered in London and San Francisco, SailGP seeks to be an annual, global sports league featuring fan-centric, inshore racing in some of the iconic harbors around the globe and culminates with a $1 million winner-takes-all match race. Rival national teams from Australia, China, France, Great Britain, Japan, and the United States battle it out in identical wing-powered, foiling F50 catamarans, engineered to exceed 50 knots.
Sydney, Australia (February 15-16)
San Francisco, USA (May 4-5)
New York, USA (June 21-22)
Cowes, UK (August 10-11)
Marseille, France (September 20-22)