With less than 900 days until the start of the America’s Cup in Auckland, the Challengers are starting to hit the water with their test boats in typically secretive America’s Cup style trying to mimic elements of the AC75 which will launch in early 2019.
NYYC American Magic have built and are currently testing their boat in Rhode Island (USA), the Italians of Luna Rossa Challenge have their base in Cagliari, Sardinia’s largest city, whereas Sir Ben Ainslie’s team is based in Portsmouth, England.
While Luna Rossa is keeping a very low profile publically, a bit more has been shown by American Magic who surprisingly launched their prototype on 26 October and posted a few shots on their social media channels.
More information is indeed available for Ben Ainslie’s T5 as the boat began sailing in late June and has sailed regularly throughout the summer, being captured in some exciting social media video content from the team, as well as astonished spectators on the Solent.
The INEOS TEAM UK ‘T5’ was originally a Quant 28 that has been significantly modified to match the fundamental parameters of the AC75. The modifications involved installing two T-foils and control systems, changing the rudder, deck layout, hardware and rig.
Toby Heppell (Yachts and Yachting) spoke to INEOS TEAM UK CEO, Grant Simmer, revealing design insights on the T5 and the AC75. Part of the interview is available on INEOS TEAM UK website whereas the full interview is in the November issue of Yachts and Yachting.
The only team who is not currently testing on the water is the Defender, Emirates Team New Zealand, based in Auckland, New Zealand.
Although all the test boats are just under the 12m length permitted by the America’s Cup Protocol, the images of the US team are showing a boat very different in hull shape from the T5 used by INEOS Team UK, with at least four crew. Confirming that the AC75 is probably the most futuristic sailing design in history and there is not a sure path to follow to develop the fastest boat.
Even if America’s Cup rules prohibit any team’s full-size race boat being launched until after 31 March 2019, the test boats seen so far are showing that the revolutionary design of the AC75 will be a spectacular and innovative class with flow on benefits for the wider sailing community.
Stay tuned for further developments and keep an eye out of the teams' social media accounts for more glimpses of their tests boats: