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With just 98 days until the start of the greatest race on water, the defending champion Oracle Team USA has recently unveiled the boat it will take to the finish line in June. Oracle’s yacht, dubbed as an AC50, is a tamer version of the design that won the last America’s Cup (but was criticized for being too powerful that even the professional sailors had trouble handling it). This newcomer is 50 feet long instead of 72, and demands a crew of 6 rather than 11.
The 50-page design guidelines demands every boat be identical, save for a few key elements, including the hydrofoil shape and control systems. Oracle Team USA partnered up with the aviation company Airbus in hopes of fine-tuning their design.
America’s Cup Class catamarans use lift generated over hydrofoil suspended under the hull to boost the boat up out of the waves and make it fly. Instead of pushing its hull through the water, the catamaran skims the surface. Airbus engineers focused their aerodynamic expertise on the hydrofoil shape and control systems. Pierre Marie Belleau, Airbus’ head of business development and a keen sailor himself comments “What is amazing for an aeronautical engineer like me is that the technology used to design these flying boats is very similar to the ones we’re using to develop and test aircraft”.
Pierre invited Oracle Team USA to experiment with its foils at its Hamburg testing facilities. The company experimented with vibration, torsion, and bending tests, as well as a pressure test to breaking point- treatment usually reserved for commercial airliner wings. Where the old boat could only “fly” when going downwind, Oracle has nearly perfected how to rest on its foils, no matter the conditions.
From racing catamarans to luxury catamarans, these types of yachts provide stability and ensure top speed- even under the roughest sea conditions. Minimum heeling and more stability can help avoid sea sickness. Additionally, the small draft of catamarans allows you to anchor in shallow shores, which leads to more opportunities to explore remote destinations!
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