A Smaller AC Class Mono/Multi

The defenders of the America’s Cup today released narrower parameters for the next racing class, still keeping open the question of whether it will be monohull or multihull.

I’m happy to see a wing mast specifically permitted in the new specs for the multi, and I am only mildly surprised to see a cant-keel included in the spec for a monohull.

A canting keel is the surest route to high performance in a large monohull, and the documents released by the Golden Gate Yacht Club, through the offices of BMW Oracle Racing (still operating out of Valencia, Spain pending a venue decision) make it clear that the smallest-possible motor (“an environmentally-friendly, smart, low-emission engine or power pack”) is intended for moving the keel and appendages on the multihull. Powered winches will not be allowed. We’re back to those camera-pleasing grinders.

And I will argue that those who oppose multihulls for match racing are ignoring the lessons learned in team training in multihulls for AC 33. And the fact that the Alinghi catamaran and the BMW Oracle trimaran were, um, markedly different. And wings are cool.

The ability to race in winds of 5 knots or 30 knots remains a key element, so that broadcasters will find sailing at least as reliable as baseball (my phrasing) and, “In response to feedback from potential teams, the original concepts for both types have been scaled back from 26m (82 feet) LOA to 22m (72 feet) for tangible cost reduction.”

Some sort of “trials” are planned for Valencia in late July to evaluate (again) the relative merits for multis versus monohulls for match racing and media penetration. Meanwhile, in a move that we don’t have to interpret as long-arm’s length to still believe in a reasonable outcome, the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s Seahorse affiliate was handed the outline specs for a monohull box rule, which are now in the hands of Nick Nicholson and James Dadd for development. Box rule multihull specs went to US Sailing and Pete Melvin of Morrelli & Melvin.

Morrelli & Melvin were consultants, I believe, in the design of the USA-17 trimaran. BMW Oracle nonetheless argues that as designers they are entirely independent. If I don’t quite buy that, I also don’t buy any argument that there is a problem here.

Whether multihull or monohull, the next AC class is intended to produce boats similar to each other, for the sake of close competition. Design Coordinator Ian “Fresh” Burns said, “Unique configurations are the expensive part of the America’s Cup. We don’t want a light-air boat taking on a heavy-air boat.”

Ease of shipping is critical, because this will be a traveling roadshow till we get to the venue of AC 34 itself. The specs allow 13 crew on the monohull, 12 on the multihull. The specs further require that, in 10 knots or less true wind speed (measured at 10 m) the monohull is to go upwind at windspeed, downwind at 1.4 X windspeed; the multi is to go upwind at 1.2 X, downwind at 1.6 X.

“The objective is to publish the new America’s Cup rule by the end of September.”

And we now have a specific statement of the almost-obvious: “Intensive planning for the next edition is underway, with the 34th Cup match expected in 2013 or 2014 at a venue to be determined by the American team.”

I’d bet on 2014.

Sorry if this reads like hasty pudding, but I’m in the Mojave Desert prepping for my role as timer of the DDWFTTW quest, per my previous post. We’ll be rolling soon, so I have to figure I’ll have time later to absorb the fine points.

Details specs are worth the read, however. As in, the multihull is expected to lift the windward hull at 5 knots of true wind speed upwind, 6 knots downwind. For the detailed read:

The Multihull Concept

The Monohull Concept

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