BMW Oracle trimaran christened

Plus more photos and some comment about the radical beast

Tuesday August 26th 2008, Author: Jane Eagleson, Location: United Kingdom
BMW Oracle Racing’s new 90-foot trimaran touched water for the first time today, commissioned with the traditional bottle of champagne smashed across the bow.

In a team gathering at the water’s edge, the carbon fibre boat was lowered into Fidalgo Bay in front of the boat yard where it was constructed on the Anacortes waterfront.

Melinda Erkelens, Golden Gate Yacht Club board member and BMW Oracle Racing team member, broke a bottle of Moët et Chandon as she commissioned the new BMW Oracle Racing 90.

“We have learned a lot and developed a lot of new technology in building this boat and I’m really looking forward to testing it on the water,” said team CEO and Skipper Russell Coutts. “It is going to be an interesting challenge and we will need to build up slowly and carefully to testing its full potential.”.

The team expects sea trials to begin in early September once the fit-out is complete and structural load tests are conducted dockside.

The team partnered with Van Peteghem and Lauriot Prévost (VPLP) of France and one of the most successful skippers in multihull racing, Franck Cammas, to design the innovative trimaran.

Led by Mark Turner and Tim Smyth, the BMW Oracle Racing construction team has worked in a purpose-built composite yacht construction facility housed in a 100 x 200ft, three-story shed. Janicki Industries in nearby Sedro-Woolley provided high-tech precision tooling.

Bringing unique technological competence and setting new standards in the area of intelligent lightweight design, BMW has been a key partner in developing the boat.

BMW aeronautical engineers, Christoph Erbelding and Thomas Hahn, have stayed with the design team since the 32nd campaign providing unique expertise in finite element analysis, which is a key tool for fulfilling EfficientDynamics requirements in the automotive industry.

The yacht is a key element of the team’s preparation for the next America’s Cup, representing San Francisco’s Golden Gate Yacht Club (GGYC), on which a ruling is expected from the New York State Court of Appeals in the next six months.

So what do we think of the new 90ft? Effectively, as we imagined, it looks like an ORMA 90 on a diet. Like the ORMA tris, the boat has retractible curved foils with hooks on their ends in the floats, but we have yet to see any shots of the rig or of the cockpit layout. The hulls themselves appear to be very much narrower and with less freeboard than an offshore tri and with less arch in the beams. The bows on the floats are 'Dreadnought', an influence A-Class designer Martin Fischer originally brought to the Groupama/VPLP design team. We suspect the bowsprit is also substantially longer proportionally than one might find on a scaled up ORMA 60. The daggerboard in the centre hull is located aft of the main beam and is raked aft. She has three rudders, one on each hull. It isn't obvious whether or not there is a trim tab on it but we cannot imagine why they wouldn't fit one. There are no shots available yet from the aft of the boat, but one of the pictures indicates that the mainsheet track runs along the top of the aft beam rather than on a separate curved beam (as one typically finds on the ORMA 60 tris and Groupama III) which in the past has proved pretty hard to engineer - remember Adrian Thompson trying to achieve this with Mike Whipp's Paragon back in the mid-1980s, which had compound curved beams...It appears that there are twin helming cockpits slung off the back of the aft beam, which if our memory serves us correctly is how the twin helm position arrangement originally started in the ORMA 60s back in the early 1990s. There are photos of the whole boat bow on, so one imagines that the legal team at Alinghi have their tape measures out trying to establish whether the boat is 90ft wide, as stipulated in the Golden Gate YC challenge document for this machine.

We look forward to seeing more... The only problem with this boat is that while it is unquestionably 90ft of serious fun, it may never get the opportunity to race. Shame.

See more pictures of the new black and white weapon on the following pages...

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