World Series to kick off America’s Cup
The World Series in Auckland from December 17-20 marks the first official race of the 36th America’s Cup cycle. By Bruce Maxwell.
Crowds were out for successive AC75 launches in Auckland
Three launches of “second generation” 75ft foiling monohulls for the America’s Cup, all within four days, left the pundits scrambling to make sense of what challengers think they need to beat the cup-holding Kiwis.
Prada World Series matches in Sardinia and the Solent were precluded by the pandemic, so none of the high-finance, high-tech teams have had the opportunity to sail against each other so far. The Auckland event from December 17-20 will be their first chance. That is followed by the Prada Cup for Challengers from January 15-February 22 before the America’s Cup presented by Prada is held in Hauraki Gulf waters off Auckland from March 6-21.
Ominously New York Yacht Club is back in the fray to recapture “the auld mug” that they won in 1851 off England’s Isle of Wight and ferociously retained until 1983 when Australia II made an initial breakthrough.
This time their American Magic syndicate has been building up very quietly, first with The Mule training vessel, then with their first 75ft foiling monohull called Defiant, and now Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour has been graced with their probable race boat, Patriot.
Still capable of much fine-tuning, skipper and executive director Terry Hutchinson said: “We could not be more excited, after all the hard work to get her designed, built, transported and fitted out for sailing. It is pretty remarkable”.
Kiwi Dean Barker, American Magic’s helmsman, who was the losing defender in Auckland in 2003, and also lost the 34th America’s Cup in San Francisco in 2013 after going 8-1 up in a best-of-17 series, said: “Without any regattas yet, we still don’t know where we stand in the whole pecking order. But I think the final product we are putting in the water is very special.”
Asked how the new boat differs from Defiant, Barker said: “The most notable difference is the helm position. It is a lot more forward, so the helmsman has a quite different perspective. We hope Patriot’s biggest trait is that she is going to go a lot faster.”
Principal designer Marcelino Botin said: “This team didn’t exist three years ago. Now we have three boats launched. We are all interested to see how this boat performs compared to our predictions and the previous boat.”
Observers said the highly-polished gloss finish concealed some aspects, but pointed to a more flared bow, which Botin said was “just maximising driving force and minimising the heeling moment”.
Ineos Team UK showcases Britannia in Auckland
Ineos Team UK christened their second AC75 Britannia II and even harked back to the song Rule, Britannia (Britannia rules the waves). Britain has never actually won the America’s Cup, although the launch press release did say that Charlie Barr, who won the AC on behalf of NYYC in 1899, was originally a Scottish fisherman.
Sir Thomas Lipton, whose ornate Singapore Straits Regatta Trophy can be seen today at Republic of Singapore Yacht Club, was also a five-time challenger.
Britannia II is helmed by four-time OIympic gold medal winner Sir Ben Ainslie, who was on an AC-winning side sailing for America in defeating Barker in the unbelievable 2013 series. Fellow Olympic
gold medallist Giles Scott is tactician.
Said Sir Ben: “The America’s Cup is a magnificent competition, with an extraordinary history, and I believe that for one of the first times in British history, we are going to arrive at the start line with a
truly competitive boat.”
Sir Ben Ainslie on stage at the Britannia launch
This effort is backed by Ineos Chairman and Founder Sir Jim Ratcliffe. The pundits were not so sure.
“When it came to Ineos Team UK’s launch, the change in style could barely have been more stark,” said one. “Few were expecting such a radical looking design. Normally, such a big step from one boat to the next instead of a seamless evolution rings alarm bells, but this is no ordinary Cup.”
The team’s chief designer is Nick Holroyd. “The hull’s got two functions”, he says. “It’s your launch vehicle and it’s an aerodynamic body that you put under the rig. You’re dropping the keel line down to meet the water to improve the aerodynamic seal, so you are pushing that one pretty hard. And then, the boat accelerates hard from about 10-18 knots when it takes off, so you start looking at the drag of the hull through that speed regime and try to get into the air as quickly as you can.”
The previous AC50 foiling catamarans very occasionally exceeded 50 knots, but were mostly in the 40-plus knots range. The AC75 foiling monohulls are expected to be faster. Nobody knows yet by how much.
Third launch was the Italians of the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli team. This second Luna Rossa was blessed by Father “Pa” Peter Tipene, Dean of Auckland Cathedral, and christened by Tatiana Sirena, wife of team director and skipper Max Sirena.
Ferrari Maximum Blanc de Blanc was broken on the bows and local Maori welcome rituals observed, so her arrival was in every way auspicious. All she now has to do is go faster than everybody else.
Australia’s Jimmy Spithill is helming this one, and he has won the AC for America before, but he didn’t get a look-in as the Italians acknowledged assorted sponsors, notably the remarkable Patrizio Bertelli, CEO of Prada Group.
Designer is Horacio Carabelli. “We’re pretty happy”, he said.
Says one AC website pundit: “What stands out most of all aboard the Italian design is how the curved, humpback-style sheerlline creates a hull and deck that is now treated as a lifting surface as well.
“Such is the apparent wind speed over the deck that reduced drag is no longer the only goal. At these wind speeds, lift can be created to contribute to the forces that are raising the entire boat out of the water.”
The original article appeared in Issue 56 of Yacht Style