The new wing-sailed AC45 was debuted over the weekend in Auckland’s Viaduct Harbor, with the 45-foot carbon fiber catamaran poised to kick off the America’s Cup World Series, starting in 2011. With the ability to reach speeds close to 30kts, the AC45 is designed as a practice boat for America’s Cup teams in anticipation of close racing on the larger 72-foot catamarans in the final series.
Oracle Racing’s skipper, James Spithill, commented that “The biggest challenge with multihulls is learning how much to anticipate. With the AC45 being a big, powerful multihull capable of tripling the wind speed, your reactions and skills are accelerated. I think the AC45 will enable all teams to advance to hard-core race mentality very quickly.”
The AC45s are designed by ORACLE Racing’s design and engineering team, who were challenged by the idea of creating an all-round performer that could be easily transported in 40-ft long containers from one port to another to allow for a busy racing schedule. The hulls are build in carbon epoxy with honeycomb cores, making them stiff and light, with two carbon skins laminated overtop. The boats are durable enough to withstand collisions, but lightweight enough to be disassembled easily and loaded up for the next destination.
For purists who say that the America’s Cup has lost its grandeur since departing from monohulls, America’s Cup Race Management and Regatta Director Iain Murray promises that “Multihulls are very fast boats and will therefore reach the course boundaries sooner, so races will become a true test of skill and strategy, not just speed.”
The AC45s will certainly provide legions of AC followers with a chance to get used to this idea.
For more on the 34th America's Cup, click here. And for a sweet video of the maiden voyage, see below!