Countdown to Team NZ AC75 Launch

Published on August 25th, 2019

by Duncan Johnstone,
Team New Zealand’s design boss Dan Bernasconi likes what he’s seeing as the America’s Cup defenders get set to launch their radical foiling monohull. Emirates Team New Zealand and the three heavyweight challengers – Luna Rossa, INEOS Team UK, and American Magic – are all finally set to splash their new AC75s in coming weeks with the Kiwi boat due to be unveiled early next month.

There’s bound to be a wow factor with grandeur returning to the Cup for the 36th edition in Auckland 2021 as these boats push 22.7m including their bowsprits and carry 26.5m masts.

But Bernasconi warns that first looks may be deceptive with some of the boat’s crucial features hidden below the waterline. “At the dock with the foils down you could almost mistake it for a conventional monohull yacht because the foils are under the water,” Bernasconi told Stuff.

“But when it starts sailing around and you see the boat out of the water with the foils, it is going to look really dramatic. And I think the performance of the yacht is going to be pretty spectacular.”

He has been excited by the scope for design innovation allowed this time and cites the hull as a crucial element that will likely be a major point of difference between the five teams that include Stars + Stripes Team USA who are lagging in their build process.

“I think there will be really obvious differences and they will be really obvious to people who aren’t the trainspotters following the Cup in every detail,” Bernasconi predicted.

The hull will need to be slick through the water but obviously have key aerodynamic elements incorporated given the amount of time it will be out of the water on foils during high-speed racing.

“The hull is something as America’s Cup designers we haven’t worked on for quite a long time. The hull shape for the AC50s in Bermuda was one-design and even with the AC72s (in San Francisco), there was some freedom but it wasn’t that significant a design element,” Bernsaconi said.

“With the AC75 class there is a lot of freedom in the hull shape and because it is such a new concept there are a lot of different ideas in what could make a good hull.

“So it has been exciting for us exploring that and it will be exciting for us to see our competitors and what sort of conclusions they have come to.”

There is going to be a huge amount of analysis among the teams over the next few months as the traditional spying game ramps up. They want to understand what their rivals have come up with and what can quickly be done to improve the design for the second generation of boats that will be used for the real racing in Auckland.

“There are smart people in all of the teams and we are not thinking that we have had all the good ideas,” Bernasconi said.

“We will be very much focused on what the other teams are doing, then back-engineering what that have done and trying to work out why they have come to the conclusions they have and is there something we can learn from that going into our second boat?”

With time compressing, Bernasconi’s design team have already begun looking at their second boat. Team New Zealand are also starting to construct a test boat to help their ongoing design and build process because the first AC75 will spend so much of the next year away on container ships and racing in the America’s Cup World Series in the northern hemisphere that starts at Cagliari in Italy next April.

Just as they did in their successful campaign for Bermuda 2017, Team New Zealand have relied on a highly advanced simulator for their design feedback so far.

“We are the only team that haven’t launched a test boat. We took the decision to focus our efforts on the simulator development. There’s a huge amount of design resource in getting a test boat on the water, so we wanted to use that time to focus on the AC75 rather than split our time between two boats.

“We have learnt a lot from that. Whether it proves correct, we will learn very soon,” he said, eager to get real data from the AC75’s impending sailing. As he notes: “We are more than halfway through the campaign and we haven’t done a day’s sailing yet.”

That’s about to change. Bernasconi’s design team and the syndicate’s inhouse boatbuilders are about to deliver Glenn Ashby, Peter Burling and the sailing crew a monster they will have to learn to tame.

America’s Cup AC75 in numbers:
Hull length: 20.7m plus 2m bowsprit
Maximum beam: 5m
Weight: 6.5T
Mast height: 26.5m from deck
Sails: 135-145sqm mainsail, 90sqm jib, 200sqm code zero
Rudder: Centreline T foil, 3.5m maximum draft, 3m maximum span
Foils: Twin-canting T foils, 5m maximum draft, 4m wing span
Crew: 11 sailors (960-990kg combined weight)


In addition to Challenges from Italy, USA, and Great Britain that were accepted during the initial entry period (January 1 to June 30, 2018), eight additional Notices of Challenge were received by the late entry deadline on November 30, 2018. Of those eight submittals, entries from Malta, USA, and the Netherlands were also accepted. Here’s the list:

• Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL)

• Luna Rossa (ITA) – Challenger of Record
• American Magic (USA)
• Malta Altus Challenge (MLT) – WITHDRAW
• Stars & Stripes Team USA (USA)
• DutchSail (NED) – WITHDRAW

Of the three late entries, only Stars+Stripes USA remains committed, but they still must complete the entry fee payment process before they will be eligible to race. They have already paid their initial payment but as a late entry challenger under the Protocol they also have a liability to pay a US$1million late entry fee due in installments by October 1, 2019. This deadline coincides with the venue schedule which has the construction of their team base beginning in late 2019, which we assume was done in the event the team is unable to fulfill their payment deadline.

Key America’s Cup dates:
✔ September 28, 2017: 36th America’s Cup Protocol released
✔ November 30, 2017: AC75 Class concepts released to key stakeholders
✔ January 1, 2018: Entries for Challengers open
✔ March 31, 2018: AC75 Class Rule published
✔ June 30, 2018: Entries for Challengers close
✔ August 31, 2018: Location of the America’s Cup Match and The PRADA Cup confirmed
✔ August 31, 2018: Specific race course area confirmed
✔ November 30, 2018: Late entries deadline
✔ March 31, 2019: Boat 1 can be launched (DELAYED)
✔ 2nd half of 2019: 2 x America’s Cup World Series events (CANCELLED)
October 1, 2019: US$1million late entry fee deadline
February 1, 2020: Boat 2 can be launched
April 23-26, 2020: First America’s Cup World Series event in Cagliari, Sardinia.
During 2020: 3 x America’s Cup World Series events
December 10-20, 2020: America’s Cup Christmas Race
January and February 2021: The PRADA Cup Challenger Selection Series
March 2021: The America’s Cup Match


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