America’s Cup yachts duel on the hard

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The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston is hosting an outdoor display that illustrates the principles of sailing, but also defines it as art.

The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston is hosting an outdoor display that illustrates the principles of sailing, but also defines it as art.

Bill Koch’s America3, winner of the 1992 America’s Cup, and the Italian yacht she beat in San Diego, Il Moro Di Venezia, appear to be “sailing on land” through the concept designed and executed by Rodger Martin Yacht Design. (The Newport, R.I., firm also was part of the America3 design team in 1991-’92.) The boats are part of the exhibit, “The Things I Love: The Many Collections of William I. Koch.”

At 124 feet tall, the boats are displayed as if racing, with defending yacht America3, skippered by Koch in ’92, in the lead. The display is designed to be able to sustain winds up to 96 knots, and will remain outside the museum for the duration of the exhibit, which was set to run through Nov. 13.

The yachts are suspended with a system of tensioned stainless steel rods with 316 stainless fittings. The largest rod, at Il Moro’s port side, can take a reported 91,000-pound load. Within the boats, the main supporting wires attach to the fin keels. The bow and stern tethers on both boats stabilize against pitching and yawing in heavy wind and are attached to the forestay, runner and mainsheet bulkheads using custom chain plates.

Fourteen helical piles, essentially giant corkscrews, were used to anchor the tension wire. They’re driven 15 to 20 feet below grade to a layer of clay, and are also used to anchor the concrete footings below each boat’s keel and below carbon support masts.

Below each ballast bulb is a ball-and-socket joint that allows the yachts to pivot if hit with a blast of wind, rather than bending and stressing their structures — and also take the 70 tons of compression experienced in a 96-knot wind gust. www.rodgermartindesign.com