Oracle Racing on their AC72
At an Oracle Racing press conference yesterday CEO Russell Coutts described how the team’s first AC72 catamaran is in an advanced state of construction at three locations around the Pacific Rim.
Workers at the team’s base at Pier 80 in San Francisco, Core Builders Composites in New Zealand and Janicki Industries in the Pacific Northwest are targeting July for the launch of the new class of America’s Cup yacht. America’s Cup rules permit teams to launch their first AC72 yacht after 1 July.
“No question the AC72 will be a big step up from the AC45 we are currently racing on the America’s Cup World Series circuit,” says team skipper James Spithill. “The AC45s have proven spectacular; the AC72s will be sensational.”
The team has split production of its yacht between three sites because each is a center of excellence.
At Pier 80 in the 34th America’s Cup host city, the team builds the basic moulds for the hulls and crossbeams of the catamaran. The moulds are then shipped to Janicki Industries, north of Seattle where the large structures are machined to fine tolerances.
In a process in which Janicki is a world leader, high-tech resin is applied to the moulds and then machined to its final shape by a five-axis mill to tolerances finer than the thickness of a sheet of paper.
“We’ve worked with Janicki for nearly 10 years because every little fraction of accuracy you achieve accumulates. Greater accuracy means less material and less weight. That means the boat is built precisely as the designers conceived it,” said shore team manager Mark Turner.
Oracle Racing’s hull moulds were refined at Janicki’s plant in the same mill that handles secret work for some of the largest manufacturers of civilian and military aircraft and aero structures in the world.
Once the finished moulds are back at Pier 80, a boatbuilding team begins to laminate the high-strength, carbon-fibre cloths with epoxy resin.
“In the AC45 class, the boats are the same so the results are often determined by the sailors who made the better decisions and handled their boat better,” said Oracle Racing CEO Russell Coutts, the all-time America’s Cup winner. “In the AC72, teams will develop their own design so technology plays a bigger role. Compared to any previous America’s Cup, the design rule is relatively tight. Technology will produce a faster, smarter boat, but not a ‘golden bullet’ design.”
AC45 v AC72 comparison
|Hull Length||13.45m (44ft)||22.0m (72.18ft)|
|Maximum Beam||6.90m (22.6ft)||14.0m (45.93ft)|
|Wing Height||24.50m* (80.38ft)||40.0m (131.23ft)|
|Maximum Draft||2.70m (8.8ft)||4.4m (14.44ft)|
|Displacement||1,400kg (3,086lb)||5,900 kg (13,007lb)|
|Wing Area||93.7sqm (1,008.58sqft)||260sqm (2,798sqft)|
|Jib Area||30sqm (323sqft)||100sqm (1,076sqft)|
|Gennaker Area||100sqm (1,076sqft)||400sqm (4,305sqft)|
|Crew||5@85kg/per (187lb)||11@92kg/per (203lb)|