FLIGHT OF THE FOILS
High-tech features will define the summer of sailing. BY STEPHANIE MARTIN
Would these 72-foot cats fly, and if they did, how would they fare running on just inches of carbon fiber through bumpy waves, powered by stiff breezes?
Ever since its inception 162 years ago, the America’s cup has been all about pushing the technological envelope. From the first winner, America, the standard-bearer for U.s. shipbuilding skill, to the controversial winged keel of Australia II in the ’80s to Larry ellison’s gigantic and
triumphant multihull USA- 17, the game has hinged on design.
And this time, the focus of thousands of man-hours and millions
of dollars has been on the carbon-fiber foils.
Ac72s actually boast two types of foils. One, the wing mast, sits
atop the platform, reaches 131 feet into the sky and is the driving
force that propels the boat for ward. the second ones, the centerboards and rudder, protrude into the water from the hulls so these
6.5-ton platforms can literally fly over the water.
When emirates team new Zealand was the first to fly last fall, dis-
playing its design edge during training sessions on Hauraki Gulf, the
cup world stopped and paid careful attention. Would these 72-foot
cats fly, and if they did, how would they fare running on just inches
of carbon fiber through bumpy waves, powered by stiff breezes? the
answer: it was a game changer. And so the game changed.