America’s Cup: Four ways to skin a cat
Published on October 13th, 2019
With each team allowed to build two hulls in advance of the 2021 America’s Cup, four of the five entrants have splashed their first AC75s.
As the Protocol of the 36th America’s Cup doesn’t allow the teams to shroud their boats, the new 75′ monohulls were quickly snapped and “grammed” around the world for everyone – teams and fans – to comment and draw their first conclusions.
Given the dramatic differences in hull shapes, the new launches have confirmed the conviction that there will be significant speed differences in this first iteration of the AC75 Class Rule.
Design teams have spent a lot of time exploring different hull shapes within the Class Rule limits, looking for a shape with minimal drag as well as the stability required for take-off.
In broad terms it’s possible to pair the four boats with the Kiwis and the Italian choosing one approach and the British and New York Yacht Club going in another direction.
Britain’s hull shape is probably the most radical in appearance; while the bottom has a very clean scow like line – similar to NYYC and opposite to New Zealand and Italy – the deck layout has a completely new design, with a very flat and low bow, slab sides and a straight sheerline toward the stern.
The British hull seems wider, with the foil rotation points (whose distance is fixed as per the Class Rule) appearing to be inside the hull compared to the other teams that have a dimple treatment where the carbon foil arms stick out from the hull.
Italy’s design has gone in the opposite direction with a boat similar but more radical than New Zealand. Despite a more traditional bow – that gives a nod to those of the old America’s Cup boats – the sheerline is quite pronounced and tapers towards the transom. The bottom has a rounded-V structure in the centre ending just ahead of the rudder.
What the four AC75s have in common is the cockpit where they are all divided in two by a central extension to the forward deck, creating two pits for the crew, all with variations to the layout, which will lead to interesting comparisons of crew dynamics while sailing for each of the teams.
In foil world, it was interesting to notice that both Italy and Britain have also opted for a tapered central bulb similar to NYYC, leaving the Kiwis the only team going “against the tide” in that aspect of foil design. But there the similarities end.
Britain appears to have bigger wings and two different foil shapes per side, whereas Italy have the smallest wings seen so far and, although it is not possible to know what is happening at a systems level, their shapes look very much alike.
There is still much more to be revealed, for example nothing has been – nor will be – revealed about the highly sophisticated flight-control systems that will be key in the performance of these boats.
Syndicates are allowed to build two boats and this first generation will be a major testing platform for the second generation which will be raced in Auckland. The question is, will we see such a diverse spread of designs across the second iterations of each teams AC75s?
The premiere America’s Cup World Series event in Cagliari will provide the first real opportunity by which teams can measure themselves and their first boats against each other to see who has chosen the best path so far.
In the meantime, Syndicates can only rely on their recon reports to gather information, analyze data and feed the findings into the design of their second boat as the construction of the second generation of AC75s is just few months away.
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)
• INEOS Team UK (GBR)
• 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 coincided 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. However, it is not yet confirmed if they have paid the fee.
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
AC75 launch dates:
September 6 – Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL), Boat 1
September 10 – American Magic (USA), Boat 1; actual launch date earlier but not released
October 2 – Luna Rossa (ITA), Boat 1
October 4 – INEOS Team UK (GBR), Boat 1