Roughly a year and a half after the publication of the class rule governing the type of boat to used for Emirates Team New Zealand’s America’s Cup defense in 2021, the Kiwis have now launched their first full-foiling AC75 Class monohull.
Integrating a number of “stock” AC75-supplied parts that will be identical for all competitors (including the foil arms, the foil cant system and the shape and base laminate of the mast), the boat took over 100,000 man-hours to design and build, will be sailed by a crew of 11 and weighs all of 14,560lb—roughly the same as a cruising boat less than half its LOA.
“This is a significant occasion for the team, not just because it is another new boat, but really because when we won the America’s Cup in 2017 we very quickly had to come up with a new concept of boat that would really continue to push the boundaries of innovation and technology in the America’s Cup,” said ETNZ COO Kevin Shoebridge. “Seeing it in the flesh today is an amazing testament to the entire team willing to push things all the way from concept to design to build and fit-out.”
“There’s a huge amount of innovation in the design and build of the AC75, more than we saw in the AC50’s in Bermuda,” added ETNZ head of design Dan Bernasconi. “The AC75 is a completely new concept and has presented plenty of challenges across many areas. But this is precisely what the Rule was designed to do, to push development to the extreme… It’s not long until we need to commit to the design of our second boat, which we will ultimately race in the 2021 America’s Cup, so we need to test as many of our ideas as possible in the yacht we’re launching today.”
Unlike some of the other teams now challenging for the Cup, Emirates Team New Zealand has developed its first boat entirely through the use of in-house simulation, as opposed to building a smaller-scale test boat, like the New York Yacht Club’s American Magic and INEOS Team UK. As a result, when the new AC75 goes for its maiden sail, it will be the first time the entire team has sailed together since winning the America’s Cup in Bermuda on June 26, 2017.
“It won’t be without nerves the first time we go sailing, but I am sure that is no different for all of the teams,” said ETNZ veteran Glenn Ashby. “The AC75’s are big, powerful and fast boats, so they will be a handful, but from our understanding through our simulations they are inherently a safer boat to sail than what we have sailed in the past two America’s Cups. As with any new boat it is all about slowly getting it up to speed, learning how to sail it most efficiently, [and then] pushing the development of the design.”
The AC75 is a 75ft, high-performance monohull governed by the AC75 Class Rule, which was published in March 2018. The rule was intended to be open enough to guarantee a wide margin of freedom to the designers but also includes the aforementioned one-design elements, in the interest of keeping costs under control. In practice, the most visible differences between the different boats will be seen in their hull shapes and deck layouts, since despite a number of basic constraints, including length, there are few significant limits on shape or structure. Design teams will also be looking for a design that minimizes drag in light-wind displacement mode while also addressing the stability required to generate thrust for takeoff into full-foiling mode.
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