by Tim Jeffery
Oracle Team USA AC72
Oracle Team USA has started the countdown to launching its first AC72 wingsailed catamaran this week.
Friday 31 August is the first scheduled sailing day for the boat that will play a central role in the San Francisco team’s bid to win the America’s Cup again next year.
Today, the giant 12 story high wing was lifted at Pier 80 in a successful test of the new ground handling systems.
'This was one tick in a very long check-list of essential steps before the boat can go into the water,' said Mark Turner, shore manager.
Upgrading from the identical one-design AC45s used during last week’s America’s Cup World Series event in San Francisco is going to be no small order; the AC72 is more complex, more powerful and entirely custom designed and built by Oracle Team USA.
'Compared to the AC45, the AC72 is twice as long (sic), five times as powerful and 100 times more complex,' explained Dirk Kramers, one of the 25 strong design team who has worked for two years on the team’s first boats. 'It will also be 25% faster, capable of speeds over 40 knots (45 mph).'
Constructed entirely from carbon fiber, the AC72 hulls were built at the team’s base in Pier 80, San Francisco. The cross beams connecting the two hulls, wingsail, appendages (rudders and lifting daggerboards) and other key structures were made in New Zealand by Core Builders Composites.
'This is one of the most intricately detailed racing boats ever built,' commented Tim Smyth of CBC. 'Not only this, but it is also one of the most dramatic looking.
The next step for the team is to lift and fit the 130-foot wingsail onto the hull. Once preliminary checks on shore are complete, the boat then touches Bay water for the very first time. The myriad mechanical, electrical, and hydraulic systems that control the steering, wing and sails have to be tested, and before sailing is attempted a team of engineers and boatbuilders must sign off on the structure after a series of structural and data read-outs are approved.
The first sail is scheduled for Friday, subject to constant review.
Oracle Team USA website