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Fourteen sailors have been selected to join the Alinghi Red Bull Racing crew and represent the Société Nautique de Genève as a Challenger for the 37th America’s Cup

The 14 selected are all young, Swiss and talented, with solid experience in foiling, fast boats, rowing and cycling; and will represent Alinghi Red Bull Racing and Switzerland in the next America's Cup - sailing's most prestigious event - to be held in Barcelona in 2024.

With an average age of 30 - 11 years younger than the last crew that took Switzerland to victory in Valencia - this team represents the youth factor. Eight of them will board the AC75 foiling monohull, classified into two groups: the driving group and the power group.

For the sailors in the first group, called afterguard, selection started last summer with interviews, followed by physical and sailing tests.

Pierre-Yves Jorand, co-general manager in charge of sports operations, explained: "It was really a collective effort: we worked with the head trainer Nils Frei and the first sailors selected and made all our decisions together. Character, Attitude and development potential are as important as skills."

The sailors in the driving group gained their experience across a range of elite-level sports, flying boats and the Red Bull Youth America's Cup and personify what is called the 'Alinghi generation'.

The youngest is 2014 Optimist world champion Nicolas Rolaz, 22, who revealed: "It's an honour for me, a dream come true. I started sailing during the previous victory in 2007; Ernesto Bertarelli and his crew had shown that it was possible to reach the top even if you're from a landlocked country like Switzerland."

A high-level training schedule has been set up on the water with renowned coaches to guide these youngsters, who have no experience yet, with these super-powerful AC75 rockets.

Co-general manager in charge of technical operations Silvio Arrivabene, who will supervise the designers and engineers, said: "The boat we're going to deliver will be the result of everyone's joint commitment. We talk daily with the sailors, everyone knows what the others' challenges and needs are."

Besides announcing the new Swiss crew members, Arrivabene presented some of the other key team members, including principal designer Marcelino Botin, who is in charge of hydro and aerodynamics.

Botin added: "These are the people who can make or break a team! The cohesion between the designers and the sailors really illustrates where Alinghi Red Bull Racing's strength lies: numerous synergies and an excellent work atmosphere where ideas come together."

The sailors are divided into the following roles: tactician, helmsman, foil trimmer, sail trimmer, and grinder. The latter three, part of the power group, bring the necessary power to get the boat working.

The Alinghi Red Bull Swiss Racing crewThe Alinghi Red Bull Swiss Racing crew

Design coordinator Adolfo Carrau explained: "The class rules oblige certain systems to function on manual power, especially everything that has to do with sail trimming. It's the strength that these athletes contribute that enables the sail trimmer to do his job… The team members must therefore really be strong, especially since there will only be four of them on board, compared to eight grinders in the previous edition."

To assemble this power group, the recruitment focused on the Swiss cycling and rowing federations, including cyclist Théry Schir as well as rowers Augustin Maillefer and Barnabé Delarze.

Head trainer Nils Frei said: "The track record of these athletes caught our attention; though not experienced in sailing, they excel in top-level sports, winning, and performance despite pressure. Rowers are extremely versatile athletes due to their strength, power, and endurance, but we still had to explain to them what this event represents; it's a career choice, a life choice."

Delarze, who has competed at two Olympics and recently won the UK's iconic Boat Race with Oxford University, is thrilled about this new sporting direction after spending over half his life rowing.

He said: "I've always been attracted to water and sliding sports, and in the end, sailing is not that far removed from rowing! In any event, I've never had a project this big. I hope I can offer them what was my strength in rowing – motivation and the will to work hard to reach my goals, with a lot of discipline."

The last crew member will be introduced soon and, with true Swiss precision, the team have been spot on at the recent start of two 2022 championships: currently leading both the TF35 Trophy and the GC32 Racing Tour, training actively on these two boats while waiting to sail the AC75 and then the AC40.

Alinghi Red Bull Racing sailing crew

  • Maxime Bachelin, 24 – driving group
  • Matias Bühler, 39 – driving group
  • Arthur Cevey, 26 – power group
  • Nicolas Charbonnier, 40 – driving group
  • Lucien Cujean, 32 – driving group
  • Barnabé Delarze, 27 – power group
  • Yves Detrey, 43 – driving group
  • Augustin Maillefer, 29 – power group
  • Bryan Mettraux, 31 – driving group
  • Arnaud Psarofaghis, 33 – driving group
  • Nicolas Rolaz, 22 – power group
  • Théry Schir, 29 – power group
  • Nils Theuninck, 25 – power group
  • Florian Trüb, 28 – power group
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The Rules Committee for the 37th America’s Cup has been announced today with a trio of highly qualified members who will be in charge of maintaining the rules and regulations in relation to all AC37 race yachts. They are Mark Ellis (UK), Marc Wintermantel (SUI) and Stan Honey (USA).

According to the Protocol of the 37th America’s Cup, the role of the Rules Committee is to be exclusively responsible for the interpretation of the AC75 and AC40 Class Rules and their rulings are final.

The Rules Committee is also responsible for the determination of whether or not any yacht constitutes a Surrogate Yacht, based on information provided by the Measurement Committee; and to resolve any other matter for which it is given jurisdiction under the Protocol and/or the Class Rules.

They are not responsible for the actual measurement of the yachts, this is the role of the Measurement Committee whose work will commence later.

Mark Ellis (UK)

Ellis (pictured top) has recently retired from F1 following a lifelong career in motorsport, culminating in a decade of World championships with Red Bull and latterly as Performance Director at MercedesF1, overseeing the performance programmes, development of simulation technologies, control systems and vehicle dynamics.

Since retiring from F1, Mark has acted as a consultant for a diverse array of industries such as F1, hyper-car constructors and Olympic track cycling.

Marc Wintermantel (SUI)

Marc Wintermantel (SUI)Marc Wintermantel (SUI)

Wintermantel, holds a Masters and PhD degree in quantum electronics and computational physics, and is currently working as a corporate fellow at ANSYS, a market leader for CAE/multiphysics simulation software. He is an expert in structural engineering with a focus on numerical composite material analysis.

Wintermantel is also co-funder of the company EVEN which established itself prior to the acquisition through ANSYS as a software developer and engineering service provider in F1, MotoGP and America’s Cup racing. While working within EVEN, Wintermantel served as structural engineer for United Internet Team Germany during the 32nd America’s Cup and later became design coordinator for the team.

Stan Honey (USA)

Stan Honey (USA)Stan Honey (USA)

Honey was a member of the 36th America’s Cup Rules Committee. As professional sailing navigator, he has won the Volvo Ocean Race, set the Jules Verne record for the fastest non-stop circumnavigation of the world, and set multiple 24 hour, Trans-Atlantic, Trans-Pacific, Sydney-Hobart, and Newport-Bermuda sailing records. In 2010, Honey was awarded the US Sailing Yachtsman of the Year Award and was nominated to the National Sailing Hall of Fame in 2012.

Honey is a Yale/Stanford electrical engineer, three-time Emmy Winner for Technical Innovations in Sports TV, and an inventor on 30 patents in navigation and graphics. Honey was nominated to the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 2017 and the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2018. In earlier navigation related work, Honey co-founded ETAK Inc. in 1983. The company pioneered vehicle navigation systems with digital map databases, heading-up map display, and map-matching navigation.

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As the dust settles on the global kerfuffle over the torrid venue selection process for the 37th America’s Cup Series in 2024 with Barcelona taking the prize, it emerges from leaked documents that the final big money agreement includes various very special side-deals. These were only going to be revealed as the world’s sailing public comes to accept this latest location development in the 170-year-long story of the world’s oldest international sporting challenge, but an information security failure has resulted in them coming centre stage today.

Thanks to excessive and very boisterous celebrations in the Catalan capital when the deal was signed - despite it all being done plumb in the middle of Lent - Afloat.ie can reveal some sensational secret proposals which are now being firmed up. They indicate that while the complex agreement was being put together in the greatest secrecy, the putative Barcelona organisers were doing some discreet but detailed research which indicated that in order to achieve the successful level of popularity and profitability which they seek, the 37th staging will have to look very different to the 36th staging completed in 2021 in New Zealand.

THE PUBLIC WANT SPECTACULAR RIGS

An extract from the secret documents reveals much of interest:

“Our research has shown that the casual spectator finds the modern AC75 boats “look rather boring”. They tell that us that from a distance they look like floating versions of Formula 1 cars setting very ordinary standard rigs of mundane appearance, and that unless spectators are very close to the action, they do not get the full impression of the foiling effect on hull behaviour.

Accessible drama – the International 15 Metre Lady Anne (originally built in 1912) thrashing to windwardAccessible drama – the International 15 Metre Lady Anne (originally built in 1912) thrashing to windward

Thus we have concluded that it is much more important from an ordinary spectator’s point of view to have large, spectacular and complex rigs rather then mere hull speed. And at the moment, the class of boat which best meets this need is the Mediterranean’s fleet of restored classic yachts to the International 15 Metre rule, which are awe-inspiring with their jackyard topsail-setting gaff rigs.

With the limited time available, the 15 Metres – whose hulls are around 75ft in length – offer the best option of having a viable fleet in action for 2024. But if it goes as well as we hope, in time we would expect to upgrade to boats of the International 23 Metre Rule, or to the American rule which produced the famous Reliance in 1903.

The ultimate America’s Cup yacht was the successful 1903 defender Reliance. She set an extremely large suit of perfectly-cut sails, needed a crew of 80 to race her properly, required 19ft of water to float, and had to be dry-docked as much as possible as she was built of an electrolytically-conflicting range of expensive metals, which tended to fizz and deterioriate rapidly when put into salt water.The ultimate America’s Cup yacht was the successful 1903 defender Reliance. She set an extremely large suit of perfectly-cut sails, needed a crew of 80 to race her properly, required 19ft of water to float, and had to be dry-docked as much as possible as she was built of an electrolytically-conflicting range of expensive metals, which tended to fizz and deterioriate rapidly when put into salt water.

Sailors tend to overestimate the spectator effect of the supposedly high sailing speed of the AC 75 boat type. It only seems fast to sailors. By comparison with other vehicles, they’re not really going very fast at all. Thus we think that as the America’s Cup beds in at Barcelona over the years, we’ll place much more emphasis on the spectacular appearance of the rig and so forth than we will on the still rather pedestrian absolute speeds.”

Obviously, this is dynamite, and will be regarded as a retrograde step except at Falmouth in Cornwall and Howth in Ireland, the only two places in the world where significant fleets of jackyard topsail setting fleets still race, with Cornwall featuring the Falmouth workboats while Howth race the Howth Seventeens.

The return of jackyard topsails to the America’s Cup will bring added kudos to experience in this rig, as with the Falmouth Workboats seen here……..The return of jackyard topsails to the America’s Cup will bring added kudos to experience in this rig, as with the Falmouth Workboats seen here……..

…….and the Howth Seventeens. Photo: W M Nixon …….and the Howth Seventeens. Photo: W M Nixon 

And apparently, even the impressive J Boats which raced for the America’s Cup in the 1930s - and are now revived as a class - have failed to meet the Barcelona requirements. The word is that by comparison with Reliance and her smaller yet similar sisters, as far as the general public is concerned the J Class “are just too boring for words”.

Update: Midday on April 1 - Thank you for reading our April Fool! 

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Emirates Team New Zealand launched their prototype hydrogen-powered foiling chase boat in Auckland today with Emirates Team New Zealand team member Andrea Joy christening her ’Chase Zero’ in front of the wider team.

Chase Zero is the first boat to be launched in this America’s Cup cycle, and one that is hoped will set the foundations of a seismic shift towards a cleaner more sustainable future in powerboating around the world.

Team New Zealand Launch Hydrogen Powered Foiling Chase Boat

“I hope we can look back on this today as the start of a hydrogen motorboat revolution,” said Sir Stephen Tindall - ETNZ’s sustainability ambassador and supporter of the project, before the boat was craned into the water for the first time.

After the successful innovation of the AC75 foiling monohull and subsequent defence of the 36th America’s Cup, Emirates Team New Zealand CEO Grant Dalton said, “What next? How can we keep pushing the boundaries of innovation and technology utilizing the people and technology available at ETNZ?”

With the AC75 class already locked in for the next America’s Cup and with a continued drive towards a more sustainable future, the focus quickly shifted to the on-water chase boats. During the measurement of the carbon emissions of the teams last campaign to become carbonzero certified, it was obvious the chase boats were a sizable contributor to the overall emissions.

And so, the fixation on Hydrogen powered foiling chase boats was born. Initial consultation received suggested this was not the 12-month project the team was looking for.

“We were basically told something as audacious as Chase Zero would take 3.5- 4 years, but this has effectively taken us just over 9 months.” said project Manager Geoff Senior.

“We certainly weren’t expecting to be working so intently straight after AC36. But I guess that’s just part of our culture and how we work best at Emirates Team New Zealand so it’s pretty exciting to get to this stage, a huge milestone for the team.
It was a big effort to get the boat built at our build facility and then it's been a massive effort from the fit-out team here at the base, just getting all these powertrain components in and all the respective bits of hardware.

I don't think we realise how significant it is. I think there's almost no other boats like this around. The next boats like this are still a long way away, so I think once it's in the water and running, we will realize just how important it is on the world stage.”

Admittedly projects like this don’t just happen, Chase Zero, which will cruise at 35 knots with a top speed over 50 knots, is the culmination of the collective input of the team and several vital partners.

Richard Meacham who addressed the team and partners at the launch said, “It is not just the people of this team, but the partners and the relationships we have that allow us to do what we do. And when the crazy concept and plan was suggested to some of our partners here today, they didn’t step back. There was agreement that if something isn’t hard, then it isn’t worth doing. Toyota, Gurit Composites, Global Bus among others have all contributed massively to Chase Zero in their own ways.”

Toyota, an Emirates Team New Zealand partner for over 30 years played a significant part in facilitating the acquisition of the two all-important fuel cells.

Team New Zealand Launch Hydrogen Powered Foiling Chase Boat

Neeraj Lala, Toyota NZ CEO said, “We are supporting our long-term partners, Emirates Team New Zealand by supplying them the hydrogen fuel cell system as a way to investigate the different applications of this carbon neutral technology. We have secured from Toyota Motor Corp. two prototype units for the ETNZ trial that were still in their preproduction phase.

“We are excited to see the boat go in the water as a demonstration of the capabilities of Toyota’s hydrogen technology. Toyota is focused on helping advance hydrogen technology and its development in New Zealand through commercial partnerships, such as the ETNZ fuel cell chase boat, under our Toyota Hydrogen Projects banner.”

Chase Zero will now go through an extensive commissioning and testing phase in the dock over the next week or so, testing and running the prototype systems before being set free on the Waitematā harbour in the coming weeks.

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America’s Cup Defender Emirates Team New Zealand CEO Grant Dalton has announced Barcelona as the Host Venue after a long and competitive venue selection process. “Barcelona really is one of the most recognised cities in the world so to have the ability to host the most recognised sailing event in the world is hugely exciting".

"As Defender of America’s Cup, we have always felt the responsibility to grow the event, the audience, and the sport of sailing on a global scale and certainly having the event hosted in a significant city such as Barcelona will allow us to propel the growth trajectory on the global sporting stage".

"When thinking ahead to the 37th America’s Cup and the AC75’s racing within a few hundred metres of the Barcelona beach, waterfront, and race village fan engagement zones it will be nothing less than spectacular.”

The AC organiser said Barcelona is a leading city in terms of sustainability and social impact with ambitions to become Europe’s digital and tech capital, so the alignment with America’s Cup is clear. Its existing world-class facilities for racing, team bases, technical infrastructure, superyachts, and areas for the America’s Cup event village to host fans, hospitality, and media as well as an average wind range of 9-15 knots during the September and October race window, made the city completely fit for purpose.

Barcelona’s bid saw an unprecedented alliance across public and private entities working together to attract the America’s Cup to Barcelona which included the Government of Catalonia, Barcelona City Council, City Hall of Barcelona, Port of Barcelona, Barcelona Global’s investment agency and Barcelona & Partners, a non-profit initiative composed of more than 200 of the city’s leading institutions aiming to make Barcelona one of the world’s best cities for talent and economic activity.

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The decision by Government to withdraw its America's Cup bid to host what would have been a once in a lifetime event is disappointing and short-sighted given the potential economic, social, and cultural benefits associated with the competition, according to the Cork Chamber of Commerce.

President of Cork Chamber, Paula Cogan commented, “The timing of this event would have provided a real boost for the economy in the immediate post-Covid recovery era. As well as the economic benefit, it was an opportunity to showcase the best of Irish hospitality, tourism and culture. Businesses here in Cork and across the country have now been denied the opportunity to benefit from the event”.

“The gains associated with hosting the event had the potential to significantly outweigh the expenditure that would have been required to host it, and projects such as this require greater ambition and real engagement with local stakeholders. Lessons must be learned from this, only time will tell whether there will be reputational damage when consideration is being given to Ireland for hosting future global bids”.

“The loss of the 2024 America’s Cup bid will be felt by all here in Cork and in the wider region, and this unique opportunity to recover and prosper with such a high-profile yachting race is now another country’s gain”.

Published in America's Cup

Leaks in boats are generally not considered a good thing, even if the recent case of a patriotic Ukrainian crewman trying to sink his Russian arms-manufacturing oligarch employer's superyacht in Mallorca as a protest against the Putin invasion drew widespread approval, particularly when the crewman then returned to Ukraine to join the
defence army, despite being a longtime sailor some 55 years old with no military experience.

However, carefully-positioned information communication leaks in politics, both national and international, are part of the negotiating process. So when geo-politics and sailing get intermixed, the sailors find themselves having to accept something they would normally consider unseamanlike at the very least.

The America's Cup New Zealand supremo Grant Dalton has shown that he can be a tough street fighter, right up with the most ruthless of them when it comes to judicious use of leaks in working towards a conclusion. With the March 31st deadline for the announcement of the 2024 America's Cup venue coming up on the horizon, he had a letter to the authorities in Valencia in Spain recently leaked in such a way that attention now re-focuses intensely on other potential venues.

These still include Cork, despite a very mixed reception when the idea was first floated last year, while a rapidly deteriorating international political and economic situation must now make America's Cup promotion a surefire vote-loser at grassroots level.

Full story here

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The core Emirates Team New Zealand team consists of six key sailors led by Skipper Peter Burling who is joined by Blair Tuke, Andy Maloney, Nathan Outteridge, Glenn Ashby and Josh Junior whose focus will be on the performance and development of the boat, along with the all-important strategical decision making during the 37th America’s Cup.

The complete sailing team will be further bolstered at a later date when the powerhouse grinders or cyclors will begin full-time training to provide the power for the third generation of AC75s.

Emirates Team New Zealand COO Kevin Shoebridge has been a key proponent in putting together one of the strongest lineups in the team’s history.

“Clearly we are very happy to have the depth of talent that we have in the sailing team right now. The strength of our core sailing team is clear to see, there aren’t many things in sailing that haven’t been achieved by this group of guys collectively,” said Shoebridge

“After the finish of the last America’s Cup we had an extensive and robust review of the winning campaign and how we can become stronger. Ultimately, all aspects of the organisation must improve if we are to be successful again in AC37 and collectively improving our sailing team as a unit is an important aspect of this.”

Emirates Team New Zealand is well underway in its detailed planning of the sailing schedule for the 37th America’s Cup, with a main point of focus being on the months of September and October when existing teams are permitted to commence sailing in line with the rules of the Protocol of the 37th America’s Cup.

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Some childhood dreams can become realities, others remain just that- dreams. For a 10-year-old boy growing up in Bendigo Australia, his childhood dream was to go faster than anyone else had done, powered by the wind.

Speed has always been at the centre of Glenn Ashby’s existence, on yachts, motorbikes- or land yachts. The quest for speed has won him 3 America’s Cups, an Olympic Silver Medal and 17 World Championships in 4 different classes of boat.

After the 36th America’s Cup victory in 2021 the stars aligned for both Ashby and Emirates Team New Zealand, who he has been an integral part of for over 10 years, bringing together his lifelong ambition with the depth of design, technology and innovation of Emirates Team New Zealand. All the while utilising the window of opportunity that existed with the usual lull in AC activities during the transition from the 36th to the 37th America’s Cup.

Emirates Team New Zealand has always commissioned external contracts to keep the design team sharp and engaged during these periods. So, when the independently funded project to attempt to beat the Wind Powered Land Speed World Record emerged it was not hard to find willing designers, engineers and shore crew to put their talents to the test from being fastest on the water of the America’s Cup to being fastest on land ever.

New tack - Emirates Team New Zealand Wind Powered Land Speed World Record design and planningEmirates Team New Zealand Wind Powered Land Speed World Record design and planning

The speed record attempt has been a common point of discussion for a number of years between Ashby and ETNZ CEO Grant Dalton, who himself has had a long-held interest in such a record shot.

“The wind-powered land speed record is something I have always been interested in, so when bringing a design challenge like this into ETNZ I knew it would be beneficial on a number of fronts to keep the technicians and the innovators of the organisation engaged during a down time with new, complex technical issues to solve with a cool project.” said Dalton

Glenn Ashby has been like a cat on a hot tin roof on the end of dozens of Zoom calls back to the Emirates Team New Zealand base unable to re-enter New Zealand for the past 10 months.

“I have never spent so much time on the computer as I have this past year,” explained Ashby. “Basically, from the point that Dalts said ‘let’s look at it’ after the finish of AC36, we have been all go. First job was a two-week in-depth feasibility study to ensure enough of a global understanding that this was something that could be done in a positive way for ETNZ and would not impact the team and its America’s Cup objectives financially or resource wise.”

Since then, the core group of Guillaume Verdier, Romaric Neyhousser, Benjamin Muyul, Jeremy Palmer, Romain Gard, Tim Meldrum, Sean Regan, Adrian Robb, Jarrod Hammond and Dave French have been working through the new design and engineering challenges entirely focused towards beating the existing Wind Powered Land Speed World Record of 202.9km/h (126.1m/h) which was set in 2009 by Richard Jenkins in Greenbird.

"The objective is to design a craft that becomes the fastest wind powered land yacht ever"

Ashby paid tribute to Richard Jenkins whose record he is trying to conquer. “In doing our research and digging deeper and deeper into the intricacies of the design challenges, it became very apparent that Richard really did an incredible job with his world record design.” said Ashby.

“As a team we explored some pretty creative and innovative conceptual ideas in the quest for more speed, however in the end our design and performance principles evolved into a concept reasonably similar in basic layout to the existing record holder, which really emphasised to us what a huge challenge this will be.”

Without a silver bullet in terms of a revolutionary design, and very much like what is predicted in the 37th America’s Cup with the next generation of AC75’s, the gains will come down to the small improvements and refinements that add up to overall advancements and success.

“Like the America’s Cup we just need to be doing it better across the board by utilising our experience, skills and tools gained as a team to date,” explained Ashby,

“And then, like sailing, there is always the weather gods and doing everything we can to be ready when the right conditions are presented at the location.”

Emirates Team New Zealand Principal Matteo de Nora, who is a significant supporter of the world record attempt, is clear on why now is the right time for the challenge.

“We are seeing some very close collaborations now where the design is crossing into Formula 1 territory with Ineos Britannia and Mercedes and Alinghi and Red Bull Racing for a start. This isn’t a coincidence and is focused on the top line speeds and lessons that can be learnt the faster you can go. So, this project will be beneficial in continuing to evolve and learn so much more in the aerodynamic realm which was a significant factor in AC36.” said de Nora.

From a design and engineering perspective, Guillaume Verdier explained “this project is a really compelling one for all of us involved. There are a lot of similarities to what we do with fast sail boats in terms of the aerodynamics and structural forces, construction methods, materials etc, so we are well placed in many respects. But without doubt, no boat we ever design will go anywhere near as fast as we need our land yacht to go. So, with the increase in speed comes increased complexities, but we are sure these are complexities that we can learn from so we can make our next AC75 go faster.”

The obvious element of uncertainty and point of difference for all the Emirates Team New Zealand designers is tyre technology and the dynamic forces associated with tyres on the ground, as opposed to hydrodynamic forces on foils in the water.

“This is the big unknown for us,” explained ETNZ Mechanical Engineer Tim Meldrum.

“Tyres on a flat salt surface going at over 200km/h is a whole lot different to foils in the water at over 50 knots. The rules stipulate we must run on a flat natural surface. The best ones we know of where it can be windy are dry salt lakes. With the tyres being the only point of contact to the salt it is a pretty important factor in finding the sweet spot in maintaining sufficient grip- with the least amount of rolling resistance.”

tyre technology
Our craft when compared to a speed record motorised car has a lot of differences. Firstly our “motor” – a wing in our case really delivers a small thrust force compared to a racing combustion engine. So, anything working against that thrust – wheel rolling resistance and aerodynamic drag has been a high priority to reduce if we want to hit high speeds. Secondly our wing creates a lot of side load over the main back wheels – so we need to provide grip to keep it tracking straight. A downforce aerodynamic wing like those used in F1 to assist cornering grip would rob us of too much speed, so we have opted to add variable ballast weight to allow us to tune our grip level. Extra weight mainly affects our acceleration time but does not compromise aerodynamic drag. The trade-off is we can go faster but we end up using more runway to get to our top speed. Luckily our racetrack is 8km across.”

Another contradictory problem to the norm in the America’s Cup is around weight. In the AC75’s the less weight in the boat the easier it will be to fly and faster it will be. With a land yacht, weight is a positive in certain respects explains Construction Manager Sean Regan:

“In land speed, weight will be our friend if used in the right location. So, we can refine our construction techniques that account for additional weight in certain aspects and not be so focused on weight savings. On the outrigger pod we are actively adding weight or ballast to counter the wind force on the wing sail, without which, the craft would just tip over. Not something we want for Glenn approaching such high speeds.”

But like a scale measuring gold, the weight still needs to be precise. Too little the outboard tyre will come off the ground losing contact, too much it will add unnecessary resistance and lose valuable clicks of speed.

It is these sorts of design problems that will have to be overcome in the typically condensed lead up to a shot at the World Record in July / early August which Ashby and the team are working towards attempting on one of Australia’s vast salt lakes with Lake Gairdner in South Australia or Lake Lefroy in Western Australia as potential locations.

salt lakes

Any world record needs to be stringently verified and will require officials from the North America Land Speed Association to measure and record the run with a specific set of rules that must be adhered to in order to qualify for the World Record.

For now, the craft is already under construction at the Emirates Team New Zealand build facility on Auckland’s North Shore. “The build is scheduled for completion in late March, for assembly and commissioning and preliminary testing in Auckland subsequent to that.” said Sean Regan.

Land yacht construction begins at the ETNZ build facilityLand yacht construction begins at the ETNZ build facility

“The plan is to then pack the craft and equipment into containers and ship it all to South Western Australian and truck to the record attempt location where a small team will be based from July for testing and then ultimately a shot at the World Record speed run.

“Obviously the objective is to design a craft that becomes the fastest wind powered land yacht ever.” said Ashby

“And no one would have ever been that fast in a wind powered craft on or off the water. So that’s a pretty bloody exciting thing to try to become.”

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Just over 11 months since Emirates Team New Zealand’s AC75 ‘Te Rehutai’ crossed the finish line to claim the 36th America’s Cup, its younger sister class- the AC40 is already in production.

While much of the world was having a well-earned break during the transition from 2021 into 2022 the 7 axis CNC machine at McConaghy Boats production facility was working 24/7 carving out the tooling for the hull of the new class.

The AC40 hull shape is based on that of Te Rehutai- but is already a generational step forward incorporating a number of developments learned after the completion of AC36 last year.

In usual America’s Cup fashion, the AC40 design and production timeline has been highly condensed yet achievable due to a global collaboration led by Emirates Team New Zealand design team with Dan Bernasconi and Richard Meacham central to the management of the production process with Mark Evans Group Managing Director of McConaghy Boats.

“While the genesis of the AC40 project comes from the familiar design and innovation of the people within the Emirates Team New Zealand design department we have really had to push the limits by utilising a combination of the best of the New Zealand Marine industry as well as key offshore partnerships.

Specialised elements like the rigs are being built by Southern Spars and the boat building talent we have at the ETNZ build facility are producing the foil arms. We also have a great partnership utilising the production power of an organisation like McConaghy Boats in China for the hulls, decks and fit out as well as North Sails Marine group with the aero package.” said Meacham.

AC40, a scaled AC75 day racer

AC40, a scaled AC75 day racer

McConaghy Boats has been building composite race boats with leading construction technologies for over 50 years across a range of classes from Maxi’s like Wild Oats (the most successful yacht in the Sydney Hobart race), all the way down to foiling Mach 2 Moths and Waszps.

But for now, the focus is firmly on rolling out the fleet of AC40’s explained Meacham, “Currently there are already 8 AC40’s under order with McConaghy’s, with teams lined up awaiting possession. We have a world leading marine sector here in New Zealand, but like so many industries there are labour resource constraints, so without partnering with McConaghy’s and utilising their production capabilities we simply would not be able to fulfill the orders in time.”

The first AC40 is expected to be ready to be shipped from the McConaghy facility in July of this year to the Emirates Team New Zealand base in Auckland for its on water commissioning in August. And each successive boat will be rolled out in 5-week increments thereafter as the Challenging teams take possession and prepare to hit the water where the performance across with wind range is estimated to be quite exceptional for a 40-foot boat.

In light winds, the AC40 is expected to be able to sail at up to 26 knots at 46º upwind and 30 knots boat speed at 138º downwind. At the upper limits of 20 knots TWS, the boat speeds are expected to escalate to 39 knots upwind at 41º and 44 knots at an angle of 155º downwind.

AC40, a scaled AC75 day racer

Due to the AC40 being a ‘production boat’, the process has been a bit different to usual for Head of Design Dan Bernasconi, “Normally during the build of an AC boat the design team has a bit more time to develop and finalise the hydraulics, electronics and systems, but because the production process is so rapid in this case we have had to finalise a lot more of our designs in respect to those areas up front and make sure they are spot on.”

While the America’s Cup teams will be using their AC40’s for testing, development, Match race training, and preliminary events, they will be used for both the Women’s and Youth America’s Cup’s as a key tool for creating the pathway into the America’s Cup for women and the next generation of foiling sailors. This pathway made all the easier with the added benefit of the availability of the AC40 simulator developed by Emirates Team New Zealand for pre-delivery training.

As a further step on from this, the AC40 and the simulator will be available to private owners, many of whom are the backbone of high-performance Grand Prix circuits already and could be looking for a new challenge in a dynamic boat that is right up there in terms of performance close to that of the AC75 America’s Cup powerhouses.

“There is even the possibility of private owners having a long-term ambition to race, but initially wanting to give a prospective Youth or Women’s AC crew a leg up with their campaigns by buying one early as well.” said Meacham

“So, despite the pressure of design and pushing this all along, it is exciting to see the moulds completed and production underway on a class of boat that will cover a wide range of use cases.”

AC40, a scaled AC75 day racer

AC40, a scaled AC75 day racer

Published in America's Cup
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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland and internationally for many years, with his work appearing in leading sailing publications on both sides of the Atlantic. He has been a regular sailing columnist for four decades with national newspapers in Dublin, and has had several sailing books published in Ireland, the UK, and the US. An active sailor, he has owned a number of boats ranging from a Mirror dinghy to a Contessa 35 cruiser-racer, and has been directly involved in building and campaigning two offshore racers. His cruising experience ranges from Iceland to Spain as well as the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, and he has raced three times in both the Fastnet and Round Ireland Races, in addition to sailing on two round Ireland records. A member for ten years of the Council of the Irish Yachting Association (now the Irish Sailing Association), he has been writing for, and at times editing, Ireland's national sailing magazine since its earliest version more than forty years ago

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