It wasn’t supposed to happen this way. First the Kiwis and then the three other America’s Cup teams have all hit the water with daggerboards we might as well call hydrofoils, which lift their boats’ hulls clean out of the water on downwind legs, dramatically lowering resistance and increasing speed. But the AC72 rule was specifically intended to prevent that. Read my lips: No trimmable winglets.
According to Emirates Team New Zealand boss Grant Dalton, April is the month for ETNZ and training partner Luna Rossa to pack up “cats, chase boats, base structures, workshops, offices, gym, kitchens and stores for the move to San Francisco.”
Never before has the red-hot favored team to win the next America’s Cup been in such a dicey predicament. Some claim that Emirates Team New Zealand has already won the Cup in the design department, but even if that proves true, it makes the team no less vulnerable to the fortunes of war.
There was a time when getting your hands on the wheel of a U.S. America’s Cup boat was almost the same as saying, yes, I’ve won a Star Class world championship. Think Bill “Ficker Is Quicker” Ficker, Dennis Conner, Tom Blackaller, Buddy Melges.
How long does it take to get addicted to speed? Not long, aboard the foiling trimaran, l’Hydroptère DCNS. The big, French “water wing” holds the nautical-mile record at 50.17 knots and now has its sights set on a Los Angeles-Honolulu record.
You’re not going to win America’s Cup 34 without sexy foils to keep the leeward bow floating, or flying, high. This is an area of development just as important as wings for the next generation of Cup-hopeful catamarans.