Oracle, Artemis launch new America's Cup foiling catamarans
While Team New Zealand find themselves embroiled in speculation, America's Cup rivals Oracle and Artemis have launched new foiling catamarans crucial to the development of the larger boats to be used for the finals.
The shutters continue to be pulled down at Team New Zealand's base as strong talk of hosting the 2017 qualifying series has been overshadowed by suggestions of regular skipper Dean Barker making way for rising star Peter Burling.
Defenders Oracle have a different problem at the helm of their boat with cup-winning skipper Jimmy Spithill finally ready to have surgery to an elbow problem that has plagued him since before the 2013 regatta when he oversaw the dramatic comeback win over the Kiwis in San Francisco.
Spithill says he has tried non-surgical remedies without success and has decided he has to go under the knife.
"I'll be out for quite a long time ... eight to 10 weeks. Mentally that's tough for me because I don't like sitting still and it's very difficult to leave the team when they are training," Spithill said, adding that the last few months had been "pretty tough" physically.
Australian Tom Slingsby is heading the sailing programme as Oracle put their new development boat through its paces in San Francisco before transferring to Bermuda where they will set up base fore the cup finals there in 2017.
Spithill got time to get a taste of the new foiling 45-footer which is being used as a design platform for the team's AC62, the Cup racing boats that have been scaled down 10-feet from the last regatta.
"It felt great," Spithill said.
"It almost felt a little bit like the AC72 in that we're all in cockpits and with the speeds. We're going to need to see it in more breeze but it was great to get it foiling and stable."
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Across the bay in San Francisco Swedish syndicate Artermis Racing have also launched their latest 45-foot cat with the same aim of testing and tweaking for the real thing.
Plagued by design problems at the last regatta that included the tragic training crash that claimed the life of British crew member Andrew Simpson, Artemis are also encouraged by their early runs in the latest boat.
"We knew it was a weapon when it was on the drawing board, and it certainly has lived up to those expectations thus far," says Adam May, the team's design coordinator.
"We call it the AC 45 Turbo, a scaled down version of what we think our AC62 will be."
Artemis confirmed that for the time being they are happy to continue to base themselves in San Francisco rather than make an early move to Bermuda.
They see San Francisco as replicating the 10-18 knot wind range expected in Bermuda.
"We discussed our options when the various locations for the AC finals were being decided, and this location with the pleasant weather, large hanger and easy access to the water is fantastic. We could not be happier."
The 45-footer launched by both Artemis and Oracle are independent of the AC45s to be used in the world series regattas that start this year. They will be sailed in a one-class design.