It’s a plane! No, it’s a bird! It looks like a carbon-fiber alien with foils instead of razor-sharp teeth, no drool though. It is on water after all. Is it a boat? Holy buckets, what is it? Golly gee Batman, I don’t know. It’s too sleek and slim to fit Ben Affleck’s fat butt in there!
Welcome to the next generation of high-tech acid inspired boats (they float) that will comprise a bulk of the fleets for the next Vendee Globe, Ocean Race (formally Volvo) and the 36th edition of the America’s Cup. Even Timothy Leary would be inspired. Sorry for all the hallucinogenic adjectives. It is the 50th anniversary of Woodstock after all.
Yacht designers and naval architects have taken their inspirations to the next level. Sonic shattering speeds will surely follow as we look at the past, present and future of yacht racing. So, if it is the America’s Cup and if the length of the waterline is between 45- to 90-feet, watch out!
We have gone there before, even in my time here. First it was USA, the radical front-rudder creation from Gary Mull, Heiner Meldner and Alberto Calderon for the St. Francis Yacht Club’s Golden Gate Challenge for Louis Vuitton Cup in 1986/87.
In a brilliant maneuver with all the grace of a tight-rope walker, Dennis Conner countered the Kiwi’s massive ultra-light monohull in 1988 with a hard-wing catamaran to defend the America’s Cup. This led to years of adrenaline-fueled acrimony before cooler heads prevailed, the NY Courts weighed in and a compromise led to the ACC Class.
Then it was NZL 82 with its Hula. The concept was incorporating the hull as a false appendage in order to increase waterline length and thereby faster speed on the racecourse. It failed miserably; almost sinking in the first race, then snapping its vaunted millennium mast in the fourth race before going down in flames in the fifth and final race costing New Zealand a precious America’s Cup.
At 120-foot in length and 135-foot high masts, Team Phillips went a bit too far with its thin, wave piercing hulls, each with its own sail which broke apart in a storm in the Mid-Atlantic in 2000 as skipper Pete Goss was forced to abandon ship in gale-force winds and seas. Playstation, the yacht not the game, got it right shortly thereafter, minus one of the masts and adding another hull.
Hydroptère finally broke the glass ceiling 10 years ago by sustaining a speed of 52.86 knots for 500 meters. The French hydrofoil trimaran dazzled the Bay Area with a visit in 2012, just before the AC72’s showed up for the America’s Cup races here in 2013.
Hydroptère was designed by French yachtsman Alain Thébault and VPLP. The design is based on experience from a range of hydrofoils that Thébault built in cooperation with Éric Tabarly since the 1990s. In 2008 she reached her record speed. Later that year she capsized near Fos-sur-Mer.
In 2015, Hydroptère sailed 2,215 nautical miles from Los Angeles to Honolulu to set the TransPac record, unfortunately the next year the Kewalow Harbor Master posted an abandoned vessel notice on Hydroptère and was subsequently sold. Earlier this year she was bought by Chris Welsh and Gabriel Terrasse.
Sailrocket 2 broke Hydroptère’s record in 2012 to set new outright world record over 500 meters at 65.45 knots.
Attempts at setting foiling records go back to 1955 when Monitor was clocked at 25 knots. She was designed by Gordon Baker and built by the Baker Manufacturing Company of Evansville, Wisconsin. The U.S. Navy shared part of the cost of construction. In October 1956 she was recorded at 30.4 knots and was later said to have sailed close to 40 knots.
Monitor is on display at the Mariners’ Museum in Newport News, Virginia.
The early development of hydrofoils started over 100 years ago when Italian, Enrico Forlanini, achieved 36.9 knots with his 60hp airscrew driven boat. Several engineers took notice, among them the Wright Brothers and Alexander Graham Bell, all of whom experimented with foilborne craft.
It wasn’t long until speeds moved into the 50-knot range for power boats, but it wasn’t until 1938 that a sailing boat got up onto foils with Americans Gilruth and Carl who managed to foil at five knots. In 1869 the first patent for a hydrofoil was for a rowing boat by Emmanuel Denis Fargot of France.
With speed, comes danger which we tragically experienced when Andrew “Bart” Simpson perished in a training accident as Artemis Big Red tried to push the envelope and broke apart.
This led to many safety innovations for the event. Some meant to make it safer for the sailors, others to level the playing field with the Emirates New Zealand Team who were leaps and bounds ahead of OTUSA at that point.
The ACEA went small, first with an AC62 which went the way of a Dodo, then with foiling AC50’s which have now submitted to Larry Ellison’s will witnessed in a breakaway SailGP series and are hitting 50 knots with insanely fantastic results.
It was just as fascinating last month in Portsmouth, Great Brexit as GBR broke the 50-knot barrier to be upstaged a short time later by Tom Slingsby driving for Team Australia. Unfortunately for the Aussies, hitting 50 knots was like that demon in the sky which Chuck Yeager pierced through 70 years ago when he shattered the sound barrier as their wingsail splintered as a result.
Determined not to finish 2nd again, British sailing legend Alex Thomson is announcing the completion of the new racing yacht, hoping to lead the team to victory in the 2020-21 Vendée Globe Around the World Race.
The IMOCA60 boat, Hugo Boss, is the product of more than two years of painstaking design and build work undertaken by the ocean racing team, together with more than 100 naval architects, engineers and boat builders.
“What makes us one of the most exciting teams in this sport is that we display the courage to lead,” said Thomson, as Hugo Boss was lowered into the water for the very first time. “We innovate, we push boundaries and we’re not afraid to do things differently. We accept that, in doing so, we might not always be right. But we are certainly not afraid to explore things that have never been done before.”
Designed in partnership by the Alex Thomson Racing technical team, led by Design Manager Pete Hobson and the French naval architects VPLP the revolutionary new boat was built in Hampshire close to the ocean racing team’s home base of Gosport, England.
Spearheaded by world-renowned British boat builder Jason Carrington, the build itself began back in June 2018 and has involved more than 50,000 hours of specialist construction.
Hugo Boss is the name carried by all six of the team’s previous IMOCA boats. She is a purpose-built 60-foot, long carbon fiber yacht, weighing 7.6 tons and featuring radical hydrofoils, that seem light years away from the ones the Kiwis employed to crush OTUSA in Bermuda in 2017.
The boat’s deck and coach roof featured solar paneling an addition which the team hopes will allow it to achieve its ambition of sailing around the world without the use of fossil fuels.
Hugo Boss narrowly lost the last Vendee to the jackal on Banc Popular, in an event that turned into a harrowing match race on the final leg, with Boss stuck on port with a broken foil.
The new boat’s striking black carbon hull, with its significantly streamlined bow, has now been made public, a demonstrable architectural step forward from the team’s previous iterations.
The hull’s glossy black finish echoes the sleek brand identity of the team’s title partner, Hugo Boss, whose BOSS brand logo has been cleverly created from silver carbon fiber and embedded into the hull itself.
The distinctive black hull is in stark contrast to accents of fluorescent pink which can be seen across the boat’s coach roof, keel and rudder. Devised by Industrial Designer Karim Rashid, the man behind the brand identity of the boat, the bespoke fluro tone is a first for the IMOCA class.
The boat will also feature never before seen on-board technologies developed alongside technology partner Nokia Bell Labs, which is incubating this work for the sailing team in keeping with its research for high-performance mission-critical applications.
“This sport is no longer just about qualified naval architecture and competent ocean racing,” said Stewart Hosford, CEO of Alex Thomson Racing. “It’s a design and engineering challenge at the highest level. It’s about bringing together the best in the world in every single area, in the relentless pursuit of excellence, of perfection.”
Thomson and his team will now undertake a period of on-water commissioning and testing before the new boat was officially launched and christened in September.
From there, the boat will debut in the double-handed Transat Jacques Vabre race in October before Thomson undertakes his first solo race in the New York to Vendée in June 2020 and the penultimate race in the IMOCA calendar before the Vendée Globe itself in November 2020.
Meanwhile across the Channel, another new radical IMOCA60 foiler Apivia was launched and put out for a fit out at a former U-boat base in Lorient, France.
Apivia, was designed by Guillaume Verdier for Charlie Dalin (FRA) and aiming at the next Vendee Globe. Dalin is a naval architect and shorthanded solo skipper, with four podium places on the Solitaire du Figaro. Sailing an IMOCA60 he finished third overall on the podium of the two-handed Jacques Vabre Transat in 2015.
He has teamed up with Apivia Mutuelle, part of Groupe Macif for a racing program starting now to 2022. The sailing team is Apivia Voile.
New Zealand based Pure Design and Engineering, did much of the structural engineering. The IMOCA60 is a development of the work that was going to become the Volvo Super 60.
Apivia is a more conservative, conventional hull design than Hugo Boss, which to some eyes could be a step too far on the uncertain route taken by foiling short-handed trans-oceanic IMOCA60’s. In the 2017 Jacques Vabre Transat, six foilers started the race and only one finished, and it was a conventional IMOCA60 which led that group home.
Apivia shows off her foils, which Hugo Boss was not prepared to do at her launch. In this regard Apivia is anything but conservative. The key with the foiling IMOCA60’s would still seem to be knowing when to push with the foiling and when to throttle back. Clearly delaying that later moment could be the race winning factor.
It’s Launch, Not Lunch, Time For The AC 75’s
It is always a big deal in any America’s Cup cycle when the first tranche of AC Class yachts is revealed. Fans and teams alike pour over every photograph and video they can get their hands on to analyze what each of the teams’ design departments have come up with.
That eager anticipation is ratcheted up several levels however when the teams are given the much rarer opportunity to design to a completely new America’s Cup class rule, as is the case for the 36th edition of the America’s Cup with the advent of the 75-foot foiling monohulled AC75 Class.
Even more exciting and challenging is the fact that designing and building a foiling monohull of that size has never been done before. It is an utterly new concept and that means the designers are out on their own, breaking new ground with precious little, if any, relevant data available to refer to.
It is now a tantalizing prospect that four teams; Emirates Team New Zealand, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team (Challenger of Record), NYYC American Magic, and INEOS TEAM UK should all launch their first AC75 yachts shortly.
The fifth America’s Cup team Stars & Stripes Team USA is yet to complete the build of its AC75, but the team hopes to have the boat on the water later this year.
So, what can we expect to learn from this upcoming first round of AC75 launches? As is always the case with the America’s Cup, the teams have been tight-lipped about the direction they have taken with the first of the two AC75s they can build under the terms laid down in the protocol.
But the head of design at ETNZ, Dan Bernasconi who helped mastermind the AC75 design rule in the first place said he was confident the boats would be thrilling for the fans to watch as well as extremely demanding for the crews to learn how to sail at optimum performance.
“We wanted to develop a class of yacht which was going to be exciting but also really challenging to sail,” stated Bernasconi. “We will find out when we launch and actually get out on the water, but we think the new boat is going to achieve those aims really well.”
According to Bernasconi, until the teams reveal their boats, nobody has any idea what they will each look like, but he expects there to be some big differences.
“It’s pretty interesting because the design rule is quite open,” he said. “There is a lot of openness in the hull design; the shape of hull and the layout of the deck. Also, in the mainsail configuration and the foil wings and the flaps mechanism.”
“So, there will likely be quite a big variation between our yacht and everyone else’s yachts. In fact, I think they will all be quite different so there is a huge amount of interest from all the designers in different areas to see what other teams have come up with.”
Martin Fischer co-design coordinator at Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team was also involved in coming up with the AC75 class rule. He says designing to a totally new America’s Cup class rule has added an extra level of excitement to the process for the designers at the Italian syndicate.
“The opportunity to design an America’s Cup boat to a brand-new rule is very rare, typically something that happens only every 10 or 15 years,” Fischer said.
“Everybody in the team here is really excited to get the chance to work on designing to this new class rule. I think every designer who has been given this opportunity will be really excited, like we are.”
Fischer says the task of producing from scratch one of the first ever 75-foot single-hull yachts has required he and his team to take several steps into the unknown along the way to launching their first iteration of the design.
“We are definitely getting into new territory with these new boats,” he said. “A foiling monohull of this size has never been designed and built before so there are many, many unknowns.
“There is lots of pressure on the design team because there is no experience from previous boats. Obviously, we have the experience from the AC50 catamarans but, there’s never been a boat like the AC75 before.”
“That means you have to turn over every stone and look at every aspect carefully, because around every corner there could be something unexpected. You definitely don’t want to get a nasty surprise once the boat is launched and that adds to the level of pressure on us as designers.”
NYYC American Magic skipper Terry Hutchinson said he and his team were reveling in the challenge of bringing the large-scale foiling monohull concept to life, along with the pressure of delivering a competitive design.
“It’s always great to be on the leading side of design and development and it’s always something that our group have prided ourselves in,” Hutchinson said. “We are in a competition, and we want to win. With that goal comes pressure to deliver.”
What differences there might be between the teams’ first AC75 designs, Hutchinson said he was waiting to find out like everyone else.
“We will have to see once the boats hit the water,” he said. “All of the design teams are of the highest standard, so it is an exciting time for everyone.”
Sir Ben Ainslie, team Principal and skipper at the British INEOS TEAM UK syndicate, said he expected there to be huge interest when the first AC75s are launched. “This is an entirely new concept of boat so there has been a lot of anticipation about how it will sail and how it will perform at this scale,” Ainslie said. “We have seen the test boats out there over the last 12 months or so, but to get the real deal 75-foot foiling monohulls out there means there will be a lot of interest.”
Ainslie described the planned launch and first sail of the British AC75 as a milestone moment for the team especially given that the first opportunity for the teams to race against each other will be in April 2020 at the America’s Cup World Series regatta in Cagliari, Sardinia.
“Certainly, as a team there has been a huge amount of work and effort that has gone into designing and building this boat,” he said. “It will be a real thrill to get it out sailing for the first time and to get it up on the foils and see how it maneuvers.”
The five-time Olympic medal-winning yachtsman said he expected the new boats to be stunning to watch and a real handful for the crews despite being made up of some of the best sailors in the world to master.
“I think this boat will turn heads for sure,” he said. “I’m expecting it to be the most exciting boat that I have ever sailed a 75-foot foiling monohull. The predicted speeds of these boats are really quite phenomenal, and it is going to be a huge challenge and a huge adrenaline rush to sail them well.”
The team that will have to wait a bit longer to feel the rush of flying the AC75 is the second American challenger; Stars & Stripes Team USA, led by Mike Buckley.
“Our plan is to launch our AC75 later this year, but the exact date is still to be determined,” said Buckley, fresh from a guest appearance on the MTV VMA awards show. “The other teams’ anticipated launch dates are a little bit prior to that, and we will definitely have boots on the ground, and we’ll be trying to learn as much as we can while our boat is under construction. The most exciting day for me is the day when we put this AC75 in the water and make sure she floats. Then we will take a deep breath and say well we have a boat that floats now let’s make sure we have a boat that flies. There will be a lot of hard work on the back end of that,” Buckley said. “Every day we will be trying to get a little bit better and keeping the fire burning in the team. We will be hungry, and we will be pushing, like everybody else.”
Although the precise timing of when individual teams might splash their AC75s for the first time is a closely guarded secret, it is likely that they will conduct one or more unannounced private test sails potentially followed by a more public official launch or naming ceremony.
For now, that’s going to keep sailing fans around the world guessing as they eagerly await the first glimpses of what the AC75s will look like.
The good news though, is that under the rules of this cycle of the America’s Cup the teams are not allowed to shroud their boats with skirts or covers, meaning there should be plenty for us all, the fans and the teams, to discuss when the photos and videos are finally made public.
With six editions of the America’s Cup behind him, Max Sirena returns to lead the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team with one goal: bring the Cup to Italy. “I want to make sure this is clear to everyone, especially to the new guys.
• This Cup is not an attempt.
• This Cup is not a rehearsal for future races.
• This Cup is not 3 years from now.
• This Cup will be won in the now.
• This Cup will push our limits.
• This Cup will be our obsession and our curse.
• This Cup will be our biggest dream and our worst nightmare.
• This Cup will be our everything; our day, our night, our here and our now.
• We are Luna Rossa and we are challengers, for now!”
What’s new in this challenge?
Sirena: “There are some incredibly experienced sailors in our team but also some very young ones. More than anything else, we have decided to approach this Cup differently: transversely. Of course, if you’re unable to make a decision, someone else eventually will, but the speed of the boat comes before the ego of any member of the team.”
What kind of boat are you working on?
Sirena: “Having the ability to build two boats is a little like serving in a tennis match. With the first, you can dare a little because there’s always the second serve if you need to play it safe. Regardless, this new America’s Cup is taking us all into unexplored territory and even the most moderate options are still revolutionary.”
What is the difference between being on a flying catamaran and a flying boat?
Sirena: “The boat that awaits us will be much more temperamental and edgy than the catamarans we have seen so far.”
How did you select the members of the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team?
Sirena: “I personally chose each one of them, considering both their talent but also their character and interpersonal skills.”
Once complete, how many members will the team count?
Sirena: “One hundred, perhaps one hundred and five people.”
How and when will you decide who will be at the helm of Luna Rossa?
Sirena: “It is a decision I won’t be able to take too far down the road because that would mean depriving the future helmsman of valuable hours of training. Probably by the end of 2019 and of course I will evaluate the speed each member can bring to a regatta overall, not just in individual areas. I have not ruled out having one person for the start and another for the remainder of the race.”
How do you keep such a large team motivated every day?
Sirena: “It must be crystal clear to everyone that every single activity of each individual person affects the final result. A badly made splice or the wrong post on a social network can have negative consequences on the entire group and also on the final result.”
How did the New Generation Project come about?
Sirena: “It comes from the consideration that the average age of good sailors participating in the America’s Cup is very high. We are old. No matter how this Cup will go, if you want Luna Rossa to have a fighting chance, the only way to go is to invest in the younger generation. I talked about it with Patrizio Bertelli: we felt we had to start a new cycle for the present but above all for the future. Nine young guys have joined the team (Umberto Molineris, Andrea Tesei, Davide Cannata, Enrico Voltolini, Jacopo Plazzi, Matteo Celon, Nicholas Brezzi, Ruggero Tita, Romano Battisti) and two more will join them shortly. These are very talented figures, especially from a mentality standpoint, which is what matters most. We’ll take care of strengthening them as sailors.”
What are the expected speeds and averages?
Sirena: “From 35 to 50 knots.”
How does the vision of the race change at these speeds?
Sirena: “In traditional regattas you see the gusts coming and you wait for them. At these speeds, you have to pick them up as quickly as possible.”
Why does this challenge start from Sardinia and from Cagliari in particular?
Sirena: “Because there is always wind, because Cagliari is a city capable of welcoming the members of a team of one hundred people and their families, because it is logistically perfect and because Sardinia is a wonderful place that I fell in love with since we first came here.”
Do you come home satisfied in the evening?
The First Of Her Kind
Dennis Conner can thank his lucky stars (and Stripes) that catamarans were a known quantity back in the age and time that the latest incarnations of the Deed of Gift were being drafted. These lotta known or little-known facts allowed him to win in the New York Court system to retain the America’s Cup in 1988.
A replica of the first-of-her-kind is currently floating in the rafters of the Herreshoff Museum and America’s Cup HoF in Bristol, Rhode Island.
Amaryllis was a catamaran sailboat designed by Nathanael Greene Herreshoff and launched in 1876. It was notable for its significant victory in the 1876 New York Centennial Regatta, which resulted in multihull sailing vessels being banned from certain organized sailing competitions.
John Cox Stevens who founded the New York Yacht Club plus head of the syndicate that owned the America which won the race of the century against the British in 1851 and whose brother Robert started the Stevens Institute of Technology had also spent thousands of dollars on the unsuccessful sailing catamaran Double Trouble around the same time..
When Amaryllis was launched, New York’s small-boat racing scene was dominated by the sandbaggers ranging from about 20- to 30-feet in length. The sandbaggers were developed from the beamy centerboard oyster-fishing boats that were worked and moored on the shallows of New York Harbor.
The famous race that Amaryllis won in 1876 was not held by the New York Yacht Club, or any other club. It was held under the auspices of the United States Centennial Commission and run by a special committee of members from clubs other than the NYYC.
“It made little difference to Mr. Herreshoff” (be it one hull or two) wrote Captain Coffin. Captain Nat had made his point, and as the Herreshoff noted later, “…some yachtsmen saw the joke was one themselves and cried shame on the protesters.”
Herreshoff would go on to design many of the greatest yachts in America’s Cup history including Reliance in 1903. Amaryllis was the sensation of the regatta, and the press were loud in their praise for the fastest craft in the world. Despite all the publicity, other cats were slow to hit the water. “During the summer of 1876 I had many applications for a description and plan of the Amaryllis, to all of which I turned a deafened ear” he later wrote in the Herald. “I chose to wait until such a time when I could faithfully lay before the public a full account of the Amaryllis and my ideas on double boats generally, ideas which had some practical basis and proved by actual experiment.”
And how did the New York Yacht Club, the oldest and most powerful club in America, react to the cats? Did they lead a ban as the myth claims? The answer is clearly and simply, no. When one member, Anson Stokes, announced that he was building a cruising catamaran and intended to race it in NYYC events some members objected, partly on the eminently logical grounds that the NYYC rating rule of the day didn’t allow for cats and gave them such a low rating that they would be invincible.
When the matter came to a vote under club rules, some members noted that the NYYC’s revered founder had been a cat pioneer himself. Old members advised that double hull boats were no new thing in its history. Stokes and other members, like innovative designer Robert Center, said that they would be happy if Stokes’ catamaran Nereid was put in its own class.
After a tied vote, the committee decided that catamarans were legal in the NYYC. Nereid raced for a time without success under a modified rating system until her structural problems led her to be abandoned on a beach. Her career is further proof the claim that cats were banned is a complete myth.
The evidence is clear as Michael Fay came to realize in 1988 that catamarans were not banned; in fact, they were encouraged to race as a separate class, just as Herreshoff envisioned. Amaryllis likely broke apart at some point and history is unclear on her fate.
Amaryllis II is the only known remaining catamaran constructed at the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company under the supervision of Nathanael G. Herreshoff was built in 1933 for K.T. Keller, president of Chrysler Motors, as a near replica of Amaryllis.
A few years ago, the Museum decided to take the old cat out to be rigged on a cold, calm January day.
“Rigging the boat proved to be a day-long experimental archaeology project and a chance to puzzle out the mechanics of what it might have been like to sail her in the 1930’s,” explained the Herreschoff Museum.
Sam Kinder brought a Kinder tree truck to help with the hoisting and museum volunteers worked with rigging that had not been hoisted for many decades.
“Historically, the stepping of a yacht’s mast was a ceremonious occasion marking the near completion of a yacht construction project. This day, though, had the feel of a community barn-raising with a number of curious visitors and passersby.”
It was recounted that although Amaryllis II looked like she could go out for a sail, that probably would have been a bad idea!
Till next time! firstname.lastname@example.org