Cup Watch: Here Come the AC72s

Team Artemis puts its first AC72 wing to the test in ValenciaWith Oracle and Artemis expecting to splash their first AC72s this month, and with San Francisco Bay hosting its first America’s Cup World Series regatta in August, America’s Cup 34 is about to snap into focus. Oracle Racing will launch at home in San Francisco, site of the 2013 America’s Cup match, and Artemis Racing, the Swedish Challenger of Record, will launch in Valencia, Spain, before shipping its 72ft catamaran to San Francisco Bay. 

Hulls for Oracle Racing’s two AC72s, the second of which will launch next February, are being built in San Francisco. Wings for both are coming out of Core Builders Composites in New Zealand, where the team plans to move its first AC72 for winter training. This will place them close to the source for the most complicated parts of the boats (should replacements become necessary) with the advantages of training and testing during the southern summer. 

Under AC cost-containment rules, the team can sail boat #1 only 30 days between now and January 31, 2013. Second boats can be launched on February 1, and both boats can be sailed 45 days through April 31, 2013. Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa—which are teaming up on their design and build efforts—have not yet announced a timeline, while a fifth challenger, France’s Energy Team, announced in April that it has licensed a design from Oracle to shortcut the development process. 

First to trial an AC72 wing was Artemis, which installed a wing on a modified ORMA 60 trimaran last spring. Mostly carbon fiber and 131 feet high, the wing is both impressive and more than a little intimidating. It is also, apparently, somewhat fragile, sustaining “significant” damage during a training sail in late May. 

According to Artemis skipper Terry Hutchinson, “In 12-13 knots of breeze, you’re going twice that in boatspeed with just the wing, so imagine being on San Francisco Bay with another 12 or 15 knots of wind.” 

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