Two of the leading America’s Cup syndicates launched wingsail AC72 catamarans this week to begin sea trials and training for the Sept. 7-22 Cup finals on San Francisco Bay.
All of the syndicates that will sail for the trophy are allowed to build two AC72s to fine-tune during the trials.
On Monday, Emirates Team New Zealand christened its second-generation cat, Aotearoa, in Auckland, New Zealand.
Click play for the christening.
On the same day — and half a world away — defending champion Oracle Team USA relaunched USA 17, its first-generation AC72, which was damaged when it capsized during trials in October on San Francisco Bay.
Poor weather Down Under delayed the launch of the Kiwi boat until the day after the christening.
“We were ready to launch, but the weather wasn’t,” managing director Grant Dalton said in a statement. “With the gusts making the wing lift difficult … it was prudent not to risk damage at the start of a busy testing program.”
Meanwhile, Oracle Team USA splashed its “better than new” AC72 on a gray morning in San Francisco. It is the first of two wingsail cats the team will build for the Cup finals. The team’s second AC72 is to be launched this spring.
Click play for the Oracle relaunch.
General manager Grant Simmer said the team’s design and build crews improved the damaged AC72 with several modifications.
“We’ve changed to wheel [from tiller] steering. That’s a big one,” he said, noting the bright red steering wheels in the cockpit of each hull.
“The fairing on the front beam has become more substantial than it was,” said Simmer “And this is the second wing, too. It has subtle developments throughout, but the profile is fairly similar to the original one, so it looks quite similar.”
Simmer said the latest version of USA 17 may show less twist in the platform, one of the characteristics that drew plenty of comment after the first sailing days.
“The amount that the platform [twisted] was a trade-off with weight and windage in the structure of the boat,” he said. “That trade-off is still there. We’ve made some subtle changes that will reduce the racking, but, again, it’s a design decision trading off windage and weight.”
Simmer says the plan is to work up the boat slowly before turning it loose as the month progresses.
The newly released calendar for the 2013 “Summer of Racing” in San Francisco culminates with Oracle Team USA facing the winner of the Louis Vuitton Cup challenger elimination series.
This year, winning the America’s Cup will require notching nine victories. In previous Cup finals, victory went to the first team to win five races.
The season begins with opening day July 4 before racing starts in the Louis Vuitton Cup to decide the challenger. The Louis Vuitton Cup finals begin Aug. 17. The first team to win seven races becomes the challenger of record.