5 The foils are heavy. Very heavy.
As the foils work to provide stability to the boat (when it is stationary both foils are dropped all the way down to stop it tipping over) and to provide massive amounts of righting moment, they are incredibly heavy.
A pair of foil wings and flaps (excluding the one-design foil arm which attaches them to the boat and lifts them up and down) weigh 1842kg. To put that into perspective, the entire boat itself with all equipment (but without the crew) weighs between 6508kg and 6538kg. So the foil wings at the base of the foil arms are nearly ⅓ of the total weight of the boat.
It is partly due to this that you will see some teams with bulbs on their foils. If you decide to go for a skinny foil wing (which would be low drag and so faster) then there will not be enough volume to cram sufficient material in to make the foil weigh enough. So some teams have decided to add a bulb in order to make it weigh enough but to also keep a less draggy, slimmer foil shape.
Sailing a boat launched at 100 km/h is a technological feat some would call pure madness, halfway between a Formula 1 and an airplane. The 23-metre-long flying object is spectacular to watch. The challenge: flying over water to win. And Luna Rossa wants to win big. The boat’s history starts 20 years ago and is intimately linked to one man, Patrizio Bertelli, CEO of the Prada Group. Six Cups later, Luna Rossa accepted the challenge to take on the New Zealanders, who won the 35th Americas Cup against Oracles Americans. Here is Max Sirena’s exclusive account of the challenges that still await the Italian crew before the first regatta in Auckland. Max Sirena, captain of Luna Rossa, has already won the Americas Cup twice (Luna Rossa)
At the Luna Rossa base in Cagliari, days follow nights at a hellish pace. The engineers, technicians and sailors who make up the hundred or so members of the Italian team are a frenzy of activity around the Prada colors of the AC75. The countdown is on. The watch sponsor Panerai is not far away. The dismasting, followed quickly by the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown, has strained the team’s nerves to the breaking point. Captain Max Sirena has participated in six Cups and brought home two wins: one with BMW Oracle at the 33rd Americas Cup and one with the Emirates New Zealand Team in the most recent edition in Bermuda. This year, he is putting it all on the line again. But this 36th edition is unlike any other. Disrupted by a pandemic that paralyzed the whole world, the work to be done to take home the Cup is now gigantic. The new AC75 hydrofoil monohull category is the most extreme the sailing world has ever known. Without a doubt, it marks the beginning of a new era. The 36th Americas Cup will take place from 6 to 21 March 2021 in Auckland (Luna Rossa)
Yes, there was a big delay. We are still adjusting our program to catch up. But we know that the other crews are facing the same problem. Some shipyards had to close, for example in New Zealand. We know that were going to have to deal with the pandemic for months to come. We need to learn how to work around Covid-19. Three on-board computers manage the functions of the AC75 (Luna Rossa)
Fortunately, the base never closed, but all offshore activity was suspended for 35 days. So, we put all our efforts into research and development. Ten days after Easter, we got the green light to return to sea. Of course, we had to adapt to new health regulations and social distancing requirements, so instead of eleven crew members, we could have only five on board. We mainly replaced the “grinders” with “power packs” (electric motors) that produce the energy required by the boat. At the end of April, we were the only team to return to sea.
The Americas Cup is always very expensive, because we work with a highly sophisticated and complex object. Luna Rossas budget is set at 95 million euros in total, from the initial development to the race. I know the British have a budget of £115 million, and the Americans have the same. The New Zealanders have an amount equivalent to ours. As for Fabrizio Bertellis expectations, they are obviously very high. We talk on the phone three to four times a day. It would also be a great victory for Italy, a country that has gone through some terrible ordeals with Covid-19. I received a totally unexpected phone call the other day… A very high-ranking national figure, whose name I will not mention, said to me: “Im calling because Italy needs you at this particular moment. This challenge projects an of strength and positivity that we all need.” Motivation takes on a whole new dimension here… (photo Luna Rossa)
I’m Guessing It’s Expensive to Race?
In a word: Yes. The boats alone cost between $8 million to $10 million, and most teams have a backup just in case. However, the boats are only part of the story, because you also have to take into account the entry fee ($3 million), the staff (Oracle Team USA had 130 people in 2013), the cost of shipping all that sailing equipment around the world, plus costs of maintenance, operations, and incidentals. It has been estimated that mounting a successful America’s Cup campaign costs over $100 million. Larry Ellison may have spent $250 million to $300 million defending the title in 2013.
That said, organizers are attempting to reduce costs. For 2017, competitors will race a smaller class of boat called the AC45, which is 45 feet long, rather than the AC62, which is 62 feet long. (Boat size had been previously reduced in 2013 from 72 feet to 62 feet.) Typically, smaller boats can be developed faster, require smaller crews, and cost less to transport.
How much is an Americas Cup boat?
How fast can an AC75 go?