Earlier this month, Bermuda was announced as host of the 35th America’s Cup, scheduled to take place in 2017. Though there are mixed feelings about the viability of the remote island hosting the event successfully, the America’s Cup has taken an important turn with an increasingly promising future.
From its inception in 1851, when the American (and only non-British) contender won the trophy, the America’s Cup’s home was New York. Through nearly a century-and-a-half of advances in naval architecture, the US maintained their solid lead. In 1983, however, an Australian challenger broke the longest winning streak in the history of sports, 132 years. While the developments in maritime engineering before the fateful 1983 race were significant, the revolutionary winged keel sported by the Australia II set a precedent for America’s Cup contenders leading the charge for faster and stronger boats.
Since 1983, no country has been able to successfully defend the Cup more than twice. Court battles over the Deed of Gift, drastically different boat designs competing against each other, and record numbers of challengers have dominated the America’s Cup for the past 21 years. The introduction of the AC72 marked a sharp turn that the entire sailing industry would take. It became clear that hydrofoiling catamarans were not only fun and interesting for sailors, but for non-sailing spectators, too.
Ever since the first glimpses of the AC72s foiling, we have seen hydrofoiling catamarans cropping up in more and more places. The Nacra 17 was adopted as the newest Olympic class, the Great Cup 32 Racing Tour was introduced, and both the A-Class and C-Class Catamarans adapted their older designs to incorporate foiling.
The slightly smaller AC62 that will be used in the 2017 America’s Cup is being designed specifically to foil and is expected to reach speeds similar to the AC72s’. The AC45 that debuted in the first ever America’s Cup World Series, and made a second appearance in the first ever Youth America’s Cup, will be used again for the second edition of both events, only this time they will be foiling as well. While there are many design constraints in place for both classes, there is plenty of room for variability. The next few years are sure to be full of secretive designing and trialing processes and we can’t wait to see the results!