Right! We’re getting closer to the interesting part of the run-up to the next America’s Cup, the part where people actually start sailing the boats they will race on. Team New Zealand stole a small march on the other four teams competing in this 36th edition of the event, when it launched the first full-size AC75 in Auckland today (which is already practically yesterday over there in the Antipodes). Luna Rossa, the Italian Challenger of Record, shouldn’t be far behind and is expected to launch next week.
The Kiwis have decided to name their boat Te Aihe, an unpronounceable Maori word that means “dolphin.” This is more inspired at least than the name of the New York Yacht Club’s challenge syndicate, American Magic, which sounds like something Donald Trump made up.
We’ve discussed the creative design concept of the AC75 previously. Since then we’ve learned more about the design rule, which is fairly simple: the foils and the hardware for lifting them in and out of the water are one-design; teams can do whatever they want with the hulls. As with any new design rule, particularly one involving such large budgets, it should be interesting to see what variations emerge. There should be a few, as four of the five teams playing purport to be building two full-size boats.
One team, American Magic, has already built a 38-foot prototype (a modified McConaghy 38) employing the AC75’s unique twin t-foils, establishing that yes, these boats can fly… pretty much all the time. They’ve named this boat the Mule, which is not nearly as poetic as Te Aehi, but is easier to pronounce.
I am wondering: will they name their big boat the Horse???
The visionary Russian designer, Vlad Murnikov, mastermind behind the mysterious long-running SpeedDream vaporware project, has seized on this bump in AC75 awareness to claim that the AC75 foils are not so unique and are in fact based on his SpeedDream foils.
I don’t know about you, but I see all kinds of differences here
Compare this viddy below, of the 27-foot SpeedDream concept boat under sail with the viddy above of the Mule sailing, and I think you’ll agree these are two very different animals.
The biggest difference, obviously, being that the SpeedDream boat cannot fly.
The teams currently preparing to race in the next America’s Cup cycle in Auckland in 2021 are:
The current Defender Emirates Team New Zealand (NZ)
The Challenger of Record Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli (IT)
American Magic (US)
Ineos Team UK (UK)