ac34 in multi or mono?

now that BOR has got the cup, what will happen for AC34 in terms of boat type? Stay in multi's or back to monohulls? In my view the acup is not the pinnacle of sailing per se, but the pinnacle for matchracing. So it should be a monohull to promote manouvrability and allow many tactical moves on the racecourse.

outright multihull speedmachines are awesome, but for another type of yachtrace imho! what are your views?

AC34's Boat, All About It!

AC34's Boat, All About It!  You heard it here first!

Everyone's impatient to know more about this, and scratching their heads wondering what the heck will be chosen.

It has to be super-performing, super-telegenic, and different.  

Since I have a few moments this Friday afternoon, I'll try to cut this Gordian Knot so that we're spared more of the rambling, uninformative speculations which have filled the vacuum.  I think there's a solution everyone can be delighted with!

Start off with a famous Herreshoff design, and size it up.  Build it in space-age materials (OK, skip the honeycomb) which is a long-overdue project anyway.  You can tweak the hull-shape, but you have to retain that cool cockpit design because it will look great on 3DTV.

The traditionalists can't complain too much about that. It's a Herreshoff;  are they going to dare resume where they left off bitching about it, in 1876?

The match-racing issue has (secretively) already been laid to rest. Using a close approximation, the Reynolds 33 catamaran, Oracle is said to have conducted over 20 close and exciting match races last fall.  They're said to have then adjusted the match-racing rules a little, to allow for all the additional speed and close action.  

So far so good.  But now comes the hard part:  Herreshoff would have been very happy with this platform, but would he now have chosen the same old rig that he was constrained to have?

Obviously, he would have wanted to build a wing!  How can we not upgrade the boat with what we all know Herreshoff would have preferred himself? With the exception of New Zealand perhaps, and Switzerland, every other major country in this game has a long history of producing military and civilian aircraft.  New Zealand will just have to catch up for once.  The Swiss will be ecstatic, to have a second chance to get it right.

And to avoid a repetition of some of that AC33 trickery, let's get one thing clear:  with regard to this boat, the LOA includes the rudders!


The above photo is the 1933 reproduction Amaryllis II, in the Herreshoff Museum. Said to have reached 19.8 knots!  

This Saturday evening I've

This Saturday evening I've had a most remarkable drink of whiskey;
I had just sat down with it, when I followed the tracking/press coverage/tweet that occurred as Groupama 3 went across the finish.

And before refilling (it's a modest wee glass) there was this very cheerful report from Simmer and Spithill's appearance at the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club, Sydney:

"These guys were stoked.

"Stoked like a 10 year old gets when they master their first gybe in a bit of pressure. Stoked like you feel when you put the bow down the face of a wave and feel the acceleration, knowing you’re right on the ragged edge – but still in control.

"James and Grant were stoked like a couple of kids who got to play with some of the most exhilarating, expensive, and advanced sailing kit in the world. Really, watching these two normally focussed and driven men on stage when they were talking about how 'cool' they’re boats were and both truly glowing about the others’ boats, you’d have thought they were in the playground trading 'Top Trumps' cards.

"When was the last time you remember hearing one of the elite Sailors we read about all the time being 'Stoked'?

"Doesn’t happen because, until now, there has been little to get 'stoked' about.

Keep it up! It is music to our ears! The rest of the account is here:

And since all these exhausted yachting journalists have gone to bed, here for the record is the new Jules Verne time - good to know if you are dockside in L'Orient with an idle Banque Populaire:

"Ushant at 21h 40' 45" TU: 48 days 7 hours 44 minutes! The Jules Verne's Trophy now belongs to the ten men of Groupama 3! "


It would be truly ironic to

It would be truly ironic to have the AC take on multihulls going forward at the same time as the ISAF ditches them from the Olympics.  Having said that, and having been in Valencia for 33, I say bring it on but make them smaller - these 20 mile courses are no fun for spectators!

The AC 34 Boat

The AC 34 Boat Question:

After listening to several interviews during the last weeks, I wonder if I haven't being a little too quick in taking it for granted that the AC traditionalists will prevail, when it comes time to select the boat for the AC34. More on that in a moment.

First, nobody has yet listed, to my knowledge, the extent to which ~most~ of the nationalities expected to be involved in the AC34 each have well-established and considerable multihull expertise; It is interesting to consider if in 'a friendly contest between nations' there could result a more intense and interesting national rivalry, if multihulls are chosen, rather than monos.

When you think about it, why should the Aussies be averse to the idea of racing in scaled-up A-cats? Don't the South Africans have many exceptional catamaran racers? Aren't the Swedes world-league in the specialized niche of building carbon racing cats? Where is the hub of the big-boat multihull universe, if not in France? Then we can consider all the British expertise there is, not to mention what we already have seen from the USA - and Switzerland, dare I mention it!

Why decide that all the personnel of the AC34 should necessarily revert to exactly those who were involved in 2007? In New Zealand and Italy especially, isn't that where the opposition to multihulls is most entrenched, since they are very strong in monos but comparatively the weakest in multihull experience?

Now back to those interviews I mentioned: Ellison's is the first I would point to, when he on February 19th spoke to ABC television about ideas for the next Cup (link below). He is very much preoccupied with staging a spectator-friendly event, and argues that San Francisco is uniquely well-suited for this - in ways that San Diego and Newport are decidedly not. He has confidence in this venue allowing a spectacular event, and is lingering on the question of whether the racing should feature the fastest possible boats, or not. He makes reference to how a younger audience is most interested in the faster multihulls, as opposed to the presumably older 'traditionalists'. In Ellison's vocabulary, do you suppose 'traditionalism' is a positive or negative?

Another interview recently (in Swedish) was given by Göran Marström at the Stockholm Boat show. He was asked about the new 32ft. catamaran design his firm is building - which is in fact highly similar to the 90ft catamaran concept which Gino Morelli (assisted by Marström) rushed to propose after AC33. Marström emphasized several times that this boat will be able to tack 'lightning-fast'. Read that again, and think of the potential, all you match-racing obsessives!
Marström also spoke of how the 32' cat is going to be about half the weight (450kg) and way below the construction cost, compared against his 30' Seacart trimaran. Less expensive, easier to transport, fewer load complications; all factors which when scaled to 60 or 90 ft also are highly relevant issues for the next AC boat.
By the way, Marström also opines that Alinghi had by far the fastest platform, and he is certain that if both boats had featured the same wing, Alinghi would have been much quicker. Marström also says he thinks USA17 must be structurally weaker than they ever let on, due to the platform twisting.

Then James Spithill has a long interview out today, speaking mostly about USA17 to Richard Gladwell at Sail World (I think Spithill may be the individual whom Ellison thinks of foremost, when talking about 'younger enthusiasts for multihulls'). Spithill clearly thinks that both teams in the AC33 exhibited big weaknesses in terms of their preparation, but were both fantastic boats regardless; He says that the USA17 project gave his team many lessons and ideas to how the boat could have been further improved (and Spithill guesses that Alinghi might be 2 tons lighter than USA 17).

I think it's a good bet that Spithill would absolutely love to take the AC33 experiences and lessons forward, into a new multihull; And that's what he might argue for when Ellison asks him about it.

Finally, there were good statements by Mitch Booth during the AC33, on the issue of what sort of fast new boat can also offer high-quality match-racing. He thought any new faster monohull would likely also pose problems due to boat speed, sailing angles, and equipment (e.g. swing keels) causing longer maneuvering times. He speaks of all the tactics shown by Extreme 40's in their short course in-port racing. Listening to him I again thought of Juan Kouyoumdjian's assertion; that a great AC match-racing multihull ~can~ be designed (posted earlier in this thread). It would be a most interesting project, if it is ever given the green light!

Leading multihull experts in the respective countries ought to conspire together, and campaign for it... If they can be convincing and promise a more spectator and media friendly event, then Ellison seems much more receptive than might be supposed.

Full ABC interview with Ellison:

Marström interview Stockholm Boat Show:

James Spithill interview at Sail World:

Mitch Booth remarks (begin at 23min20 sec, continues to 31min)


It will come one day for

It will come one day for sure! But I suspect a multi-challenger event in multihulls first. We'll be doing an update on the Hugh Welbourne foil at some point in the none too distant future.

How about hydrofoils? If

How about hydrofoils?

If they don't use multihulls for AC34, we'll be asking for giant flying Moths for 35 or 36 :-)

I'd forgotten about that.

I'd forgotten about that. Looks like they had fun!

The Extreme 40s tried it in

The Extreme 40s tried it in Muscat recently

D35s or ORMA60s?  Time

D35s or ORMA60s?

 Time somebody set up a serious match racing event in D35s or even ORMA60s (try and get some well-matched pairs) to demonstrate how good match racing in multihulls could be. As long as boats and crews are of similar speed, the racing should be close.

How many races in V5 boats are decided in the first few minutes, with the boat behind standing no chance of catching up?

Time the Gougeons got

Time the Gougeons got involved!

(this space reserved for the

(this space reserved for the pestilent headline generator)

David, please let me withdraw the aspersion that the America's Cup community would find multihulls more attractive, if they built them in mahogany.

... It would be much better to use oak, instead! ;-)

(build the multihulls in

(build the multihulls in mahogany?)


Back in the 1960s I worked for UK catamaran builder Prouts and sailed 505s. At that time it wasn't possible to build a 505 out of fiber glass that was at minimum class weight - you had to use mahogany! The early Shearwater beachcats were a similar story.


We have known for fifty years that a solid wing will out perform a soft sail, but how do you construct such a wing down to a reasonable weight, and then make it articulate effectively on the water.


MAES - materials and engineering, stupid.


The extraordinary advances in both materials and engineering techniques have now provided design parameters that were distant dream only a few years ago.



There's some more on this

There's some more on this here as well as a suggestion for a new 90ft cat that might be suitable.. here

Has to be in multi's - it's

Has to be in multi's - it's the only time the AC has been remotely interesting. C-class have been matchracing for years. I also suspect that, with a suitably prepared rule to constrain size, using multi's would be significantly cheaper than mono's, so could open the door to many other teams.

Compromise solution: build

Compromise solution: build the multihulls in mahogany?

Before discarding the idea of using multihulls in the future AC, here are some comments by designer Juan K. back in 2007 - the most interesting close-combat situations we just saw in the AC33 could support what he had to say:

Valencia Sailing: Moving to the future of the world’s oldest sport event, you once said the America’s Cup in Valencia was like watching F1 races on tractors. If you were given a blank check what boat would you design for the America’s Cup since you don’t like these tractors?

Juan Kouyoumdjian: If you allow a very free rule where you only define the “engines”, that is the sail plan, then for sure you will end up with a multihull. From a boat design point of view or yacht performance point of view, there is nothing that will get you further than a multihull. There is an argument that multihulls are not dynamic and are difficult to tack. I don’t agree with that because the greatest evolutions of multihulls, particularly in France, were done with offshore racing in mind. They were optimized for single-handed or dual-handed people to cross oceans. They did have a series of inshore races, Grand Prix as they called them, and that was one of the reasons that class failed, because of the discrepancies of what kind of boat you have to design for inshore races against offshore races. In essence you cope with two different boats and unfortunately budgets were not sufficient.

My point is that if you dedicate the resources one has in the America’s Cup to make a multihull dedicated to match racing it will not take more than a year to achieve it. From a yacht design point of view, the multihull is the “ultimate racing machine”.

Valencia Sailing: Is match racing conceivable in multihulls? Is it as spectacular, particularly the prestart?

Juan Kouyoumdjian: There is no problem to match race in such yachts. It could also be as spectacular, not if the America’s Cup takes place next June because people will not have the time to sort things out, but in the longer term it can very well be as spectacular as the current class, or even more. Don’t forget these are races of boats equivalent to Formula 1 and there are no cars in the world that can accelerate as fast, break as fast or turn a corner as fast as an F1 car. So if one pretends to claim that the America’s Cup is the F1 of sailing then its boats have to be the fastest one on the race course.

The reference above to F1 auto racing reminds me of when Coutts also compared the AC to F1 auto racing last week, that having close contact in the pre-starts was exactly what made the sport most exciting to watch, and it ought to happen...
But why the hell do it in slower boats?

It also brings to mind the excellent question Cam Lewis asked Ellison at the end of the final press conference: 'What is the coolest boat you have ever sailed?'

Ellison understood exactly what Lewis was implying, and LE then looked quite irritated when he answered... didn't he? The implication was of course that the America's Cup should involve the coolest of sailboats.

Will Ellison be delighted to reject multihull racing in the America's Cup, preferring that Coutts build a franchise around it with a revived 'World Sailing League' project?

Everyone seems to expect a return to monohulls, but the number of recent multihull converts among the sailors and fans has got the traditionalists pissed off!

Off topic, but no text is showing up in the message box at all, as I type this!
I suppose a left-side driver's license is required, to see what you are doing in this forum. I had one but it expired, will have to get it renewed!