Autos, airplanes, and the America’s Cup

Published on December 15th, 2021

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt Sailing News
When the America’s Cup witnessed a 120-foot monohull racing against a 60-foot catamaran in 1988, it was both technically enlightening and a historic embarrassment. Boundaries were stretched in ways not thought possible.

The train got back on the tracks for five successive events which used the 82-foot International America’s Cup Class, but the event has had the wobbles ever since that class was retired after the 2007 Match.

The shift to speed and catamarans for three events (2010, 2013, 2017) was a significant change for an event in which intricate maneuvers and carefully executed tactics had been the foundation, with the absence of monohulls not a welcome departure for America’s Cup loyalists.

“After seeing the developments in sailing technology over the years, I often would tell people that the next America’s Cup will be held at the airport,” said Scuttlebutt subscriber Karen Hawkins.

With all the talk now about foiling and aero-efficiency, the America’s Cup has stretched its connection to the boating world. Fly-time is now the focus with hulls designed to pierce the air, not the water. Without the class rules requiring a hull, who knows….

When the AC75 was introduced for the 2021 Match, it wasn’t what most people had hoped for or imagined possible, but the foiling monohull silenced the naysayers by its other-worldly ambition. It was also enough for two-time winner Ernesto Bertarelli to return to the game.

“We always had in mind that Alinghi would come back at some point, but we never felt the conditions were good,” said Bertarelli. “This has been brewing for a while and the click was when I saw those AC75s match races and their incredible potential. The pure science of match racing … it’s the legacy of the America’s Cup.”

However, the science of AC75 design has wandered far from the America’s Cup roots of naval architecture. While sailors are still sailing the boats (for now), the development of speed for the next event is leaning on skills founded in both the air and land:

New Zealand: It is shocking to see their success when they are backed up by only an Arabian airline (Emirates) and a mid-level car manufacturer (Toyota).

Challengers (officially entered):
Great Britain: This team has already won the ‘least green’ title with financial support from a petroleum company (INEOS) and technical support from the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team.

Switzerland: While on store shelves as an energy drink, the team’s partnership with Red Bull Racing brings along a motorsports powerhouse that clinched the 2021 Formula 1 season title.

Challengers (unofficial):
Italy: Supported by a luxury clothing brand (Prada), their campaign for the 36th America’s Cup included a collaboration with the exclusive Formula One tire supplier (Pirelli).

USA: For the 36th America’s Cup, their partners were manufactures of airplanes (Airbus) and a luxury vehicles and motorcycles (BMW), with one of the team principals (Roger Penske) famous in auto racing as both driver and team owner.

Following the publication of the AC37 Protocol and AC75 Class Rule on November 17, the entry period opened December 1, 2021 and runs until July 31, 2022, but late entries for the 37th America’s Cup may be accepted until May 31, 2023. The Defender is to announce Match Venue and approximate event dates on March 31, 2022. –

comment banner

Tags: ,

Comments are closed.

Back to Top ↑

Get Your Sailing News Fix!

Your download by email.

  • Hidden
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

We’ll keep your information safe.