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AC40s, M32 Worlds, Route du Rhum, and the 2022 ILCA 6 Worlds

by David Schmidt 11 Oct 2022 08:00 PDT November 11, 2022
America's Cup Recon Emirates Team New Zealand - AC40 - Day 4 - September 28, 2022 © Adam Mustill/America's Cup

The 37th America's Cup is still a ways over the horizon, given its October 2024 target date, but this isn't stopping teams or the event organizers from pushing their respective needles. Each team is currently working on designing and building a better and faster AC75 mousetrap, while the event itself has been working to create the AC40 class of foiling monohulls. The AC40 will be used to contest the 2024 Woman's America's Cup, which is set to begin on October 3, 2024, and the Youth America's Cup, which is set to begin on September 19, 2024.

Racing at both of these events will begin with fleet racing that's aimed at winnowing the high-flying crowd down until just two teams remain on their (metaphoric) foils. Then, these two teams will meet for one-on-one match racing to determine the winner of both the Woman's America's Cup (October 16, 2024) and the Youth America's Cup (October 2, 2024).

The first AC40 hit the water last month, and it's been raising eyebrows with its ability to hop onto its foils sans a hard wingsail. As of this writing, Emirates Team New Zealand, who will be defending the Cup on Spanish waters for the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, have announced that they have completed commissioning the AC40 in its One Design mode.

In addition to the Woman's America's Cup and the Youth America's Cup, it's expected that teams will use their AC40s to help develop systems, software, controls, and other design concepts that will be employed aboard the bigger AC75s before returning them to their One Design form for the lead up to these events.

(If this sounds a lot like what the Americans and the Brits did with their smaller foiling monohulls ahead of the last Cup, you are on the right foiling tack. This is because AC37's Protocol limits how much pre-Cup sailing each team can do aboard their AC75, however these restrictions do not apply to platforms such as the AC40s.)

Stay tuned for more AC40 news, as it becomes known.

Meanwhile, in other high-performance multihull news, the M32 class had their World Championship regatta last weekend on the waters off of Cascais, Portugal. According to reports, Mother Nature delivered 16-20 knots of breeze flowing over the course, allowing regatta officials to score 19 races over four days.

Once the finishing guns fell silent, Don Wilson and his Convexity crew emerged on top with 79 points, followed by Don Cheresh and his Extreme2 squad (80 points) and Larry Phillips and his Midtown team (83 points). While Peter Taselaar's Bliksem team finished with just 84 points, this put them in fourth place, just outside of a podium finish.

"They didn't make it easy for us" said Wilson in an official regatta communication. "It was just great sailing, for all the boats to be so tight and to just come down to the little things is really amazing."

Meanwhile, the La Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe is set to begin on November 6, 2022, and will take singlehanded sailors from Saint-Malo, France, to a finishing line off of Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe, for a total distance of 3,542 nautical miles. Racing will involve IMOCA 60s, Class 40s, Ocean Fifties, Rhum Monos, Rhum Multis, and the mighty Ultim 32/23 trimarans.

While the race will feature many household names from the world of offshore racing (including, but certainly not limited to, Charlie Dalin, Francois Gabart, Sam Davies, Kevin Escoffier, and Pip Hare), it will also feature 13 skippers who will be taking on their first major solo race. These newbies include Justine Mettraux (SUI), Oliver Heer (SUI), Jingkun Xu (CHN), and James Harayda (GBR).

Other skippers, including Dalin, who, it will be remembered, finished in second place in the 2020/2021 edition of the round-the-world Vendee Globe race, have plenty of miles under their seaboots but are new to this particular offshore contest.

"I feel like I have known this race, the Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe since I was very young," said Dalin in an official Route du Rhum communication. "And this race has always made me dream. However, I have never taken part and now is the time to give it a go. The competition promises to be tough. There is quantity and quality with six new latest-generation boats. The challenge will be to find the right tempo because it's neither fast like a stage of La Solitaire du Figaro, nor as long as a Vendée Globe. It's somewhere between the 100 meters and the marathon: you will always have to set your cursor in the right place!"

Finally, much closer to home, the Men's and Women's ILCA 6 World Championships are taking place this week (October 9-16, 2022) on the waters of Galveston Bay, Texas, and are being hosted by the Texas Corinthian Yacht Club.

Racing is expected to begin on Tuesday (October 11), and it will feature 86 ILCA woman sailors from 40 countries, and 17 male sailors from 3 countries. Critically for Olympic hopefuls, this is the last time the Women's ILCA 6 class, which was formerly known as the Laser Radial class, will decide their Worlds title ahead of the qualifying event for the Paris 2024 Olympics.

May the four winds blow you safely home.

David Schmidt North American Editor

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