Quick View:The Defender: BMW Oracle
Where: Yet to be determined (likely San Francisco
The Sailboats: AC72 Class Catamarans
- Length overall (LOA): 22 meters (72 feet)
- Beam: 14 meters (46 feet)
- Displacement: 7000 kilograms (15,500 pounds)
- Wing sail area: 300 square meters (3229 square feet)
- Wing sail height: 40 meters (130 feet)
- Two rudders, two daggerboards
- 11 crew
The AC72 catamarans are designed to fly a hull in 5-6 knots of true wind speed and to achieve of boat speed in less than 10 knots of wind that is 1.2 times the true wind speed when sailing upwind and 1.6 times the true wind speed when sailing downwind. They will be able to sail in winds up to 30 knots. This new class is being hailed as the fastest boat in the world.
BMW Oracle Racing, the American team hosted by the Golden Gate Yacht Club of San Francisco, won the 33rd Cup race in 2010 as the only challenger to the defending Swiss team Alinghi, and in 2013 is the defender.
In 2010 the team raced USA 17, a trimaran 90 feet long on the water, 113 feet overall, with a metallic wing sail instead of a conventional fabric mainsail. It beat Alinghi’s 90-foot catamaran in both of two races.
The CEO and captain of the American team is Russell Coutts. Born in 1962 in New Zealand, Coutts has been on the winning Cup boat in four of the last five Cup series: winning in 2003 for Alinghi and in 1995 and 2000 for Team New Zealand, and in 2010 for BMW Oracle of the US. Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle Corp., is the primary funder and driving force behind the American team.
- New annual World Series races in AC45 catamarans will begin in 2011.
- New Youth America’s Cup races begin in 2012.
Brief History of the America’s Cup
The America’s Cup is the world’s oldest continually contested trophy in any sport. In 1851 the New York Yacht Club sailboat America beat 15 British boats from the Royal Yacht Squadron, thus beginning the America’s Cup race history. The British challenged in 1870, but the Cup remained at the victorious New York Yacht Club. For roughly the next hundred years, every challenger was beaten in Cup races held every three to five years, first in New York, then in Newport.
In 1983 the Americans lost to the Australian team, and the Cup left the United States for the first time. In 1987 the American team under Dennis Connor brought the Cup back home, where it remained until New Zealand took it in 1995. In 2003 the Swiss team took it from New Zealand and kept it through the challenge in 2007. In 2010 the American team BMW ORACLE won and brought the Cup back to America.
Through almost 160 years of racing, the America’s Cup boats have undergone various design changes, and legal challenges have been waged over design elements as controlled by the original and amended Deed of Gift, the document that governs the race. Almost all races, however, have involved monohull sailboats of equivalent size and general design—with two highly notable exceptions. In 1988 the San Diego team of Dennis Connor defended with a catamaran, which easily beat New Zealand’s monohull, leading to a number of court battles and appeals concerning the legality of a catamaran, finally ending with the Americans keeping the Cup. The next five races involved more traditional matched monohulls, in the design often now called the “America’s Cup Class boats.” The 2010 33rd Cup race race again involved multihulls, a trimaran challenging a catamaran—the first race of its kind in the long history of the Cup.