America's Cup Regatta Director Iain Murray, known to many in the sailing community as 'big fella', spent Tuesday afternoon foiling around San Francisco Bay with ORACLE TEAM USA. It wasn't a joyride however; Murray was assessing how the guest racer program could work on the AC72.
"They're wonderful boats and fantastic crews as you would expect at the America's Cup," he said. "With some practical safety measures and time I think we can provide a good opportunity for guests this summer."
Murray, who has spent plenty of time on high-performance monohulls from 18-foot skiffs to giant offshore race boats like Wild Oats, says the sensations on board an AC72 are very different.
"The normal feedback of wind and waves that give you the sense of speed aren't there on a catamaran," he said. "It's a very serene sense of speed. Almost unemotional compared to the fuss you get with a big yacht."
And it's a similarly subtle sensation as the boat lifts up onto the foils: "It's actually quite hard to tell. You almost have to look. If you were blindfolded you probably wouldn't know you were lifting out of the water. The biggest sign is the reduction in noise as the waves and splashing go away as the boat comes out of the water."
And of course, the pure speed is impressive.
"The speed they travel and the ground they cover and the efficiency of the boats mean they just tear across the Bay," Murray said. "The most impressive part to me was how efficient the boat was sailing upwind. Tacking was surprisingly good; they tacked as well as a monohull in my opinion.
"The Bay becomes a very small place in these boats. The races are going to go by very fast and I think it's going to be quite a spectacle for the fans on shore."