The AC72 is the new class of yacht created specifically for the 2013 America’s Cup by the best designers in the world with input from the best sailors in the world to deliver a cutting-edge design for the pinnacle of the sport.
Crewed by 11, the AC72 catamaran is a lightweight speedster that measures in at 72 feet long by 46 feet wide and weighs 13,000 pounds. The AC72 is powered by a wing sail that stands 131 feet tall and covers 2,798 square feet in area.
The dimensions add up to an athletic yacht that’s long and light, wide and stable, and possesses incredible speed potential. When the windspeed hits 18 knots, the AC72 sails at 35 knots (40 mph).
When the boatspeed reaches 43 knots, a speed easily achieved off the wind, the catamaran is capable of sailing its 72-foot length in a single second. By comparison, the sloops used in the 2007 America’s Cup had a top average speed of 12 knots, meaning they sailed their 80-foot length in four seconds.
A dynamic feature of the AC72 is its ability to hydrofoil. Hydrofoils significantly reduce drag and further increase speed, and designers recognize that refining the efficiency of those appendages has become as important to success as the plans they create for the hulls and wings. In testing on the smaller AC45s, hydrofoiling increased the boat’s performance potential by an average of 25 percent.
“What’s so amazing about this boat is that it’s suspended on these tiny pieces of engineered carbon-fiber,” says ORACLE TEAM USA skipper Jimmy Spithill. “That’s why these boats are so cutting-edge technologically, and we’re pushing them right to the limit. The other big advance is we’re trying to stay on the foils while maneuvering, like through a jibe. It’s a handful, but once the boat foils it’s like hitting a turbo button in a car: off she goes. It’s pretty cool.”