The AC45, a "miniature version" of the catamaran class that will race in the next America's Cup, was recently launched - a little later than planned - in Auckland, New Zealand.
The boat measures 44 feet and has a two-element wing sail similar to the one on the 90-foot trimaran that Oracle Racing sailed to victory in last year's Cup racing. The Cup eventually will be contested in 72-foot catamarans.
Videos and images of the boat's first test sail on the Hauraki Gulf show it with and without a jib, going to weather in about 10 knots of breeze at a very nice clip.
"We were doing 20 knots at times," says Oracle Racing helmsman James Spithill, who steered the AC45. "The wing's big and the boat powers up quickly and is easy to sail. Maneuverability is not a problem."
Click play to watch a presentation on the wing-sailed catamaran's capabilities.
The AC45 was designed by Oracle Racing's design and engineering team to accommodate several demands in addition to raw speed. The boats have to be able to sail in a variety of venues and in winds from 5 to 30 knots. Taken apart, the boats fit inside a 40-foot container, which is necessary to ship them around the globe to the various venues of so-called America's Cup World Series.
Click play to watch footage of the AC45 in action.
The America's Cup World Series is due to start later this year and will pit the prospective Cup syndicates against each other, giving them a chance to get acquainted with high-performance multihull racing. They have to be robust, as the race courses will be fairly short and tight to promote close racing and, at times, hard contact.