As far as is known, different wind conditions flowed into the virtual dry exercise, and the maneuvers were played out according to the same patterns that would later apply on board. The sailors had to know everything before. Because, as team boss Grant Dalton tells "Sail World", "this is a highly complex boat, and if we do not understand it, we'll be pretty dirty."
That seems to have worked well. A small video from the first water training with "Te Aihe", as the New Zealanders have baptized their futuristic bullet, shows them at high speed and extremely reliable over the Auckland Bay curves. Extreme yachts have always been for the America's Cup. But never before has the technical equipment been as sophisticated as at the upcoming 36th edition, which will take place in Auckland in 2021.
For the first time ever in the history of sailing boats go to the start, which have no righting moment and produce their stability only by speed. They would simply tilt to the side without electronic controls like a sheet of paper. It could be the most expensive miss in the 170-year history of the America's Cup. The reason for this is buried deep in this history, where the wounded superegos of former losers long seek revenge and only make things worse once they see their chance.
Where that leads, Oracle mogul Larry Ellison showed his legal feud against defending champion Alinghi. He succumbed in court the right to a duel for which his team could never have qualified athletically. The so-called Deed-of-poison duel, in which 2010 two incomparable multi-hull monsters competed against each other, prepares the leap into the era of high-speed racing. From then on, "flying" catamarans should determine the America's Cup.
New Zealanders bet on a hermaphrodite
The enormous boat size of initially 72 feet (AC72) halved the number of participants. The Italians also found the adventure too risky and withdrew in insult. In 2000, the Luna Rossa team with the money of the fashion group Prada had entered the AC circus and had always counted among the co-favorites. As soon as the upstart and software billionaire Ellison had been defeated, Luna Rossa announced his challenger ambitions and pressed for a return to monohulls.
The Italians should get monohulls, but different than they imagined. The hybrid 75-foot monster of the latest AC generation owes a hypocritical compromise. Because the New Zealanders did not want to fall behind the status of the wing technology as new rule guard. So they adapted the foils of the catamarans and planted them in a monohull concept. The AC 75 is a hermaphrodite designed to reconcile two sailing cultures.
When the first two models were presented at the beginning of September with the delay of half a year, there were also big differences. The New Zealanders rely on a narrow hull, whose bottom is curved down to provide as little as possible attack surface when placed on the water, the front section is somewhat conventional cut. The US team American Magic, on the other hand, favors "Defiant", a wide hull that creates more stability on the water but takes longer to make the transition to the flight phase. The flat underside is aerodynamically optimized and resembles a round washed pebble.
At the beginning of November Ineos Team UK followed with "Britannia" and Luna Rossa. And again, the design drafts reveals different priorities: While the English follow skipper Ben Ainsle the path of the Americans, as much volume in the width and provide a thick bead on the bow for the lift provide Luna Rossa builds like the kiwis on a narrow hull, that rejuvenates downwards. The British and Americans, after many hours of training, which they previously completed on miniaturized versions, are already confident that they have stable trajectories.
The Foils, which come in contrast to the usual in yacht building L and U-profiles as T-wing, also shows a wide range. The teams would still "search," says designer Antoine Gautier. Everyone is allowed to test six Foil pairs. The boats were on the first training trips with different foils per side on the way. Since they will be the ones who decide on speed, maneuverability, flight behavior and stability, most of their attention will be on their development.
How this time the "design war" ("Tip & Shaft") focuses on aspects that you do not see because they are done by computers. What prompted the New Zealanders, rather than a training boat prefer to put on the simulator. Now they're hoping the real boat will perform as the virtual specimen would. "The Cup is no longer a battle among sailors," says Ineos designer Jean-Francois Cuzon, "the challenge is to master the systems as quickly as possible and get the boat under control."
The development costs are exorbitant. The design of the folding mechanism, which pivots the foils hydraulically out of the water like a sideways-lifting arm, was so laborious that each team now uses the same unified mechanism. Only, as far as the control electronics are concerned, they are left free.
America's Cup is always pushing boundaries
That does not even make Patrizio Bertelli happy, who heads the Luna Rossa syndicate and has a direct influence on the rules. "La Stampa," he explained that the New Zealanders should have listened to him, then there would be more than four participants. He had a class like the TP52 before, quite foilend, but not free from static stability. The fact that these are now generated dynamically poses enormous challenges for designers and sailors. "Too difficult to start from scratch," says Bertelli.
Since each team is allowed to build another boat, the conceptions are likely to converge. Already, all boats share the double cockpit, which is unique to catamarans and has previously required the crews to rush back and forth between maneuvers between the two hulls. How this feat is now to be accomplished by eleven man in part over a massive center console, will be seen.
In its long history, the America's Cup has repeatedly pushed the limits of what made sailing ships fast. Most of the time it made them look "nice". But with this tradition is now also broken. But what do you expect in a racing machine that calls Paul Verdier in the service of New Zealand "crazy" and "unnatural". In April of next year, at the start of the World Series in Cagliari, Sardinia, it will prove whether or not it really depends on the sailors.