No wrong answers?
Update: America’s Cup
With four AC75s now successfully launched and actively foiling, what have we learned about the outcomes of the various design strategies chosen by each of the teams for their first-generation boats?
One thing seems clear – that there is more than one way of creating a 75-foot monohull that flies above the water on foils – a fact evidenced by the four distinctly different looking yachts that the teams have in-dependently come up with.
There are so many ways to compare and contrast just how different all four boats look. For instance, the cigar-shaped bow of American Magic’s Defiance and the striking cutaway foredeck and slab sides of Ineos Team UK’s Britannia.
Then there is the comparatively flat bottoms of the American’s and British boats compared to the rounded and v-shaped longitudinal ‘bustles’ underneath the Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli boats respectively.
The closer you look the more the differences you find, and it is tempting to oversimplify things by falling back on the comfortable, well-worn adage that: “Somebody is going to be right, and somebody is going to be wrong”.
Given that all four teams have been up and foiling on these revolutionary boats within days on launching them, isn’t it possible that all four have come up with competitive designs – the performance of which may vary only marginally based on weather conditions and the speed with which the crews get to grips with sailing them?
That means that the rest of us will have to wait six months until the teams all come together for the first time for four days of racing at the opening act of the America’s Cup World Series in Cagliari, Sardinia next April 23 – 26 to learn who – if anyone – has stolen a march on the rest.
For now though we can happily continue to pore over every photograph the teams release and squint as we step frame-by-frame through their videos for evidence to support our speculative theories about what the crews are trying out as they battle to get master their AC75s.
Those are the hidden differences in the systems that control the flaps on the foils, that determine the constantly shifting 3-D aerodynamic shape of the ground-breaking double-skinned mainsails, and a myriad of other complex elements that make up these highly technological AC75s.
How to effectively balance the complexity and functionality of these systems with the overall reliability of the boat will no doubt be high on the list of problems keeping the design teams and the sailors awake at night.
We may not get to know much about those critical concepts before this 36th edition of the America’s Cup is all played out, but they could easily prove to be the difference between success and failure when the competitive phase begins.
One question that is yet to be definitively answered concerns the crew logistics when manoeuvring the AC75s. Given the centrally divided cockpits on all four boats and the trend towards deck-sweeper main-sails, who amongst the crew will be changing sides and how will they be doing it.
With 11 on the crew, clearly not everyone is going to be running from one side to the other on the tacks and the gybes. Some teams are rumoured to be moving just a handful of sailors each time, while others – it is believed – are experimenting with two helmsman, one on either side of the boat.
Click here to find out the parameters within which teams can design a yacht eligible to compete in the 36th America’s Cup.
First published on the 36th America's Cup presented by Prada website
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