The cats are now coming out of the bag thick and fast. Oracle Team USA is now the third syndicate to unveil their AC72 catamaran to be raced for the 34th America's Cup in San Francisco in 2013.
The boat that the defenders of the "Auld Mug" will be careering round the racecourse in certainly looks striking. At a first glance, its design screams one word - lift. As it was lowered into the water there were foils in abundance. The L-shaped dagger-boards and T-shaped rudders indicate that the American team is making no efforts to hide their boats hydrofoiling ability.
It also appears that they have designed some of the boats structure to assist in lifting the vessel from the water. The cross-beams are much wider than those of the other AC72s and are shaped like giant spoilers, although no doubt to generate lift rather than down-force.
Meanwhile, there has been much discussion around the world about the legitimacy of a photo, which appears to show the Emirates Team New Zealand AC72 sailing suspended on hydrofoils. Normally a photo is irrefutable proof, but the image in question is of poor quality, not what one would expect of an image shot from a helicopter, and no photographer has put his or her hand up to claim copyright, so mutterings of "Photoshop" have been flying around. Check out the Boating NZ facebook page to make up your own mind.
Regardless of the large-scale changes that have been made to the rules and format of America's Cups of old, the 34th contest is sure to have all the controversy and intrigue about the differences between the designs of the boats. And as usual, someone will have got it very wrong, and someone will have got it very right.
The sailing world waits with baited breath to see the launch of the Luna Rossa AC72 in the coming weeks.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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