The fastest sailing boats in the world arrived in San Francisco in July, ready to do battle in this year’s America’s Cup race. Aboard the AC72, Oracle Team USA will face the winner among the three teams competing in dozens of preliminary races during the season. The boats are larger than ever, at 72 feet (about 22 m), and feature multiple hulls to decrease weight and drag. The AC72 can hit more than 75 km/h, thanks to carbon-fibre hulls and a rigid plastic wing sail. For the first time, spectators are actually able to see the race: it’s happening just off the California coast.
The ins and outs of the AC72
The AC72’s sail is more akin to an aircraft wing than to a traditional fabric sail. The crew can adjust the fixed wing by trimming its multiple flaps individually.
Structural sensors monitor the loads on the rigging and daggerboards, others track boat and wind speed, and units on the wing help the crew make sure they’re not overloading it.
As boats increase speed, L-shaped carbon-fibre foils that extend from the bottom of the hulls generate lift and keep the above the water.
Watch Oracle Team USA’s boat pop up on foils as it increases speed…
– Tim Newcomb