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America's Cup and SailGP merge designs

by Mark Jardine & Bene Donovan 31 Mar 22:00 PDT 1 April 2024
Announcing the ACSGP 51.25 © ACSGP 51.25 AI

In negotiations reminiscent of the PGA and LIV golf, an agreement has been come to by the America's Cup and SailGP to merge the design of the yachts used on the two high-profile circuits. This cost-saving measure will ensure that teams only have to purchase one type of boat to compete in both events.

It has been a long and torturous path to reach this stage, as finding common ground between the F50 catamaran and the AC40 / AC75 monohull yachts was complex, but compromise was found, settling on the ACSGP 51.25 proa.

The main hull will have a foil arm, while the outrigger will have a T-foil, as has been tested recently in the SailGP F50.

Sail configuration was another sticking point, with the double-skinned mainsail favoured by the America's Cup contingent, and solid wings by the SailGP representatives. In the end the solution was found in having a solid jib, combined with a longer section wing mast, still accommodating the twin main solution.

A joint statement from the ACSGP working group stated, "This was committee thinking at its finest. None of us went into the room looking for a middle ground, as we're an obstinate bunch, but by thinking out of the box, embracing blue sky thinking and pushing the envelope, we've managed to accommodate all of our favourite features into the new ACSGP 51.25. The outcome is beautiful... in its own way."

The boat design was just the first hurdle for ACSGP. The courses were another can of worms, which ironically became a eureka moment for the working group. By opening said can of worms, and seeing how they fell, plus being inspired by the can itself, the solution became clear: around the cans racing.

"We've been wanting to be relevant to the weekend warriors for a long time, so by setting the ACSGP 51.25 proas on random courses around existing navigation buoys we will do exactly that. Everyone will relate to it," added a spokesperson for the ACSGP working group.

A favourite line of stadium racer commentators in the foiling age has been, "Look at the speeds", which hasn't always lined up with television production teams displaying the speeds on screen. This is a conundrum which until now has been tricky to overcome, as displaying the speed data in kilometres per hour, miles per hour, metres per second, feet per minute, as a percentage of the speed of light, and occasionally in knots, takes up a lot of screen space.

The new ACSGP 51.25 proas will have the speeds displayed on the solid jib, thanks to the latest in OLED display technology. You will literally be able to look at the speeds the entire time. Commentators will now be able to use the phrase with abandon, so expect to hear it far, far more often.

Sailing venues are always a point of contention, and the financial and environmental cost of shipping yachts is proving prohibitive, but the venues themselves are a vital revenue source for the circuit. How would it be possible solve this dilemma?

"The answer was literally screaming at us, or should I say screening - green screening," chuckled the working group spokesman. "We can hold the racing in one place, then superimpose the venue in the background."

This does bring up the question of how the crowd and hospitality will be managed, but the spokesman explained all is in hand:

"With SailGP we're already used to having the commentary and umpiring being run remotely at Ealing in London. With Wembley Stadium just a couple of kilometres from our offices, we can put up a big screen and have remote supporters. These big stadiums are well set up for corporate hospitality as well. It is a simple and elegant solution, and we can record their reactions instead of using canned applause."

After their success in merging events in sailing, the ACSGP working group have turned their attention to golf, to help conclude the stalled negotiations between the PGA and LIV. They have already designed a 'one size fits all' golf club, which can be used for any type of shot, negating the need for caddies. Their attention has now turned to the ball, which their focus group says needs to be bigger. Much bigger.

"Sailing and golf are just the beginning of our sporting revolution. Tennis has turned to padel and pickleball, athletics has become the rebooted TV series Gladiators, so I think football (or soccer for our American friends) will be our next challenge. After the obvious first step of introducing multiball, the sky's the limit!" concluded the ACSGP spokesman.

Mark Jardine
Sail-World.com and YachtsandYachting.com Managing Editor

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