Following a 28-day “blackout,” during which no America’s Cup Class boats could be sailed, ORACLE Team USA has launched the 50ft foiling catamaran aboard which it hopes to defend the “Auld Mug” starting in May. The event comes hot on the heels of the British-flagged Land Rover BAR launch of its AC50 last week.
“This is the boat we’re racing to win the America’s Cup,” said skipper Jimmy Spithill, addressing a crowd of family, sponsors and local dignitaries with “17,” as the boat has been designated.
Starting this week, ORACLE Team USA will begin testing and practicing with the boat, a process that will inevitable result various tweaks any maybe even some major changes, depending on how things shake out.
“Many of the major design decisions have been made and have been built in already to what you see tonight,” said Scott Ferguson, the team’s design coordinator. “But the refinement and optimization process never stops. We know there is still speed to be found between now and May 26 when racing begins in the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers, and that’s our focus for the coming weeks.”
Over 15 designers and 50 boat-builders contributed to the design and build of “17,” with more than 85,000 man-hours accumulated to date. Team partners like Airbus, BMW, Parker and Yanmar have provided technical expertise and support.
“This is a major milestone in our campaign to win the America’s Cup for a third time,” said ORACLE Team USA CEO Grant Simmer. “These boats are highly-engineered, with complex systems, and built to perform under extreme conditions. It’s a great achievement by our designers, builders and engineers to get us to this point where the race yacht gets handed over to the sailors.”