So match racing multihulls is going to be dull is it? I’ve just arrived in Auckland and this is what they’re up to
Having seen what Oracle’s wing masted 90ft trimaran could do when it came to turning sharp corners, as well as having spoken to some of the few sailors who have used a solid wing sail, it has been clear that this configuration has the potential to produce a new style of boat on boat action and raise the bar to an entirely new level.
One of the latest videos to come out of the Oracle camp is surely proof. Take a look and try and tell me that the pre-starts aren’t going to be full on and exciting.
The fact is we are about to enter a whole new world where we simply don’t yet know what we don’t know.
The trouble is, that while I continue to be excited at the prospect of a new generation of high speed match racing, I’m also currently feeling fairly anxious.
I’ve just arrived in Auckland to see these boats in the flesh and take a ride aboard one later this week. But since booking my ticket one of the world’s most experienced wing mast sailors and current Cup holder James Spithill managed to capsize his boat and there have been numerous near misses many of which have been caught on video. Imagining the 40ft fall from the top hull as portrayed in the video didn’t help me get much sleep on the flight down here either. Neither did the images of the battered and bruised crew.
And now I’ve arrived it’s clearly autumn down here with heavy rain showers and gusty conditions currently prevailing.
More on this as the week progresses.
In the meantime, if you wondered how long this new technology would take to filter down into the main stream, the answer could be sooner than you think, but maybe not for you but your Optimist sailing kids.
According to the Oracle Racing newsletter:
It [the Optimist] is such a popular trainer that the children of some of ORACLE Racing’s team members own an Opti as they start what could be a career long path towards the America’s Cup. Several of the design team took the initiative to adapt a wingsail for the Optimist that was trialled recently ahead of the New Zealand Optimist Nationals.
“The idea came about when talking with some 470 sailors at Wakatere Boating Club, who are always building things for boats or skateboards or surfboards,” said Mike Drummond, a designer with ORACLE Racing. “The top section of our A-class catamaran wing is removable, and about the same size as an Opti rig. It was very easy to add a standard Opti mast tube to be able to step it into a normal Opti.”
The wing was constructed with the aid of James Turner and Logan Dunning-Beck, the 470 sailors from the Wakatere Boating Club.
“James made up the plywood control arms, Logan rigged it up; then it was stepped and sailed within a couple of days,” Drummond said. “The rig is a little far forward so the helm is a bit light, but it sails easily. It hasn’t lined up against a conventional rig though – as you can see it is a bit smaller in area.”
When it was trialled ahead of the nationals Drummond was impressed the sailors asked very good questions about how the wing works and why it has a slot. The wing isn’t class legal so it won’t be seen on the racecourse in the immediate future, but down the road wingsail technology will undoubtedly become widespread.