The one design solid wingsail catamaran, the AC45, will be the little brother to the fully fledged AC72, the state of the art vessel to be used for the 34th America's Cup.
Both classes are fundamental parts of the transformation of the America’s Cup. The AC45 has been created to fulfill three roles:
- Fast-track teams for the 34th America’s Cup to a common level of catamaran sailing and wingsail technology at the outset of their campaigns.
- Provide a class of boat for the 2011 season of the new America’s Cup World Series.
- Provide a class of boat for the Youth America’s Cup commencing in 2012.
The first catamaran is slated for launching around Christmas time in Auckland, New Zealand. Sea trials are planned immediately afterwards with representatives from potential challengers to the 34th America’s Cup invited to participate.
“The America’s Cup is now starting from a completely clean sheet of paper,” said Murray during his visit.
The rights to the design and administration of the build, sales, service and competition are vested in America’s Cup Race Management (ACRM), the independent race management authority for the 34th America’s Cup.
“The change to catamarans will see competitors racing round the track at 20 to 40 knots. It is going to be very fast and exciting. The event needed big changes and now it is happening,” added Murray.
The AC45 was designed and engineered by BMW Oracle Racing on behalf of the America’s Cup community. Manolo Ruiz de Elvira led the hull design development, Scott Ferguson the wingsail development, and Dirk Kramers the structures team.
Mark Turner and Tim Smyth of Core Builders, Warkworth, created production tooling for the hull platform and wingsail, and will produce the initial batch of boats in collaboration with other New Zealand marine industry specialists including Cookson Boats and Hall Spars NZL.
Steering and daggerboard assemblies have been sub-contracted to C-Tech Carbon Technology and Craig Stirling Composites Engineering.
Despite being a solid wingsail catamaran, the AC45 has been conceived as BMW Oracle Racing put it "as a versatile, one-design class with controlled costs and ease-of-maintenance a priority". The hulls and cross-beams are designed for simple and fast assembly to accommodate the active racing schedule.
The one-design wingsail will comprise two vertical elements and will have simple, manual control systems. There will be two headsail options, a gennaker and jib, but no Code 0 headsail.
“The AC45 is small enough that it doesn’t need hydraulics. The loads drop quickly when you get down to a boat of this size,” said Ian Burns, design team coordinator for BMW Oracle Racing. “There aren’t even grinder pedestals. The winches will be powered by top-handle grinding.”
Keeping with the simplification theme, the AC45 will have straight daggerboards. No articulation of the wing beyond raising and lowering is permitted.
Crews are likely to number five at an average weight of 85 kilograms (approximately 187 pounds) to fit the AC45’s future role in the Youth America’s Cup.
Cookson Boats and other key suppliers have been engaged to work with Core Builders to ensure swift production of the first batch of boats at a rate of two a month. Another designated boatbuilder in the USA or Europe is envisaged.
Boats will be delivered in sequence of ordering.
After use next year in the ACWS, the AC45 will be used for the Youth America’s Cup, a series to be run in 2012 in conjunction with the ACWS.