The Americas's Cup teams are pushing ahead with converting their AC45 wing-masted catamarans racing yachts to hydrofoilers, as previously reported in September.
In late October, Ben Ainslie Racing took to the water for the first time from their temporary base in Southampton, sailing their foiling AC45 yacht.
British America's Cup team boss, Sir Ben Ainslie, says, 'Ten months ago, we had nothing, so to be out there today foiling in one of these boats – after such a short time frame – is the result of a huge amount of effort from all of the team, especially the shore team and the designers.'
The British team is the fourth America's Cup 2017 team to get its AC45 up on hydrofoils, along with Oracle Team USA, Artemis Racing and Luna Rossa, the Italians also having only recently taken on flight on their AC45. The process will have served as a very useful design and engineering exercise for the teams, a good opportunity for the design and sailing departments of a team to learn how to work in harmony together, often a point of friction within a Cup programme.
The AC45s will also operate as useful test platforms for the larger AC62s that will contest the America’s Cup in 2017. While the Protocol limits the number of foils and wing rigs that can be built for their AC62, the teams are free to experiment with pretty much anything on their AC45. This could include different shaped foils, daggerboard and rudder raking controls, aerodynamic crossbeams, different cockpit layouts and so on. The question is, how much variation will be permitted for the America’s Cup World Series events that begin next year? The previous cycle saw the AC45s raced only as strict one-designs, but maybe this time we will see teams given a chance to experiment more in the racing environment. Expensive experimentation in a famously high-priced competition, but hopefully yielding interesting and fruitful results for the teams.