Wednesday, March 9, 2011

AC45s TO FOUR TEAMS - Kostecki & Burns talk up new cat

Four new AC45s are now in final assembly/fit out in Auckland by America’s Cup teams and as announced Tuesday, Swedish-flagged Artemis Racing has taken ownership of one of these boats, which they are busy assembling and will likely begin testing next week on the Hauraki Gulf.

A draw during the Competitors Forum for the first three available boats (after the prototype) determined delivery priority. Artemis drew first and got boat 1, a yet undisclosed team drew boat 2 and ORACLE Racing drew boat 3. Mascalzone Latino received boat 4 which was available slightly late. The draw was among those who had purchased the first four boats, as the first batch of boats available after the prototype were just four in total. The next boats come on line in April as production continues.

A major benefit to getting a fleet of AC45s out on Auckland's Hauraki Gulf is that the teams will quickly start testing the new rules and trial match racing the new cats,which they're undoubtedly looking forward to. SailBlast recently spoke with John Kostecki (tactician) and “Fresh” Burns (design team) from ORACLE Racing about the AC45, match racing, and the differences they view between the AC45 and the Extreme 40.

“We started the AC45 by looking closely at the X-40,” Fresh explained. “At one stage we considered using that for some our very early testing to sail with it or even for a circuit but decided to go to a purpose built design. We looked at the features that were good in the X-40 and also the failings of those boats. Thank goodness we did because the 45 turned out brilliantly. It’s a great platform for racing, a great all-round performer and a great way to introduce the wing sail into multi hull racing.”

Kostecki said the biggest difference - and the most obvious - is the wing sail on the AC45 versus the X-40 with soft sails. Additionally, the AC45 is a new design so it’s a lot more modern, for example, he said, it has significant hull shape refinements.

Said Kostecki, “One big benefit with the wing is that it’s quite easy to trim because it all comes down to how the sheet load is balanced on the mast so physically, pulling in the mainsheet will be really quick on an AC45 whereas on the X-40s you have a hydraulic mainsheet and hydraulic only happens so fast so it takes a long time to get a mainsheet on an X-40. I think match racing the AC45 will be a lot easier than the X-40 and you’ll be able to accelerate a lot quicker because of the wingsail efficiency."

Regarding the wing sail, Fresh stated, “It’s well suited to multi hulls because in general multi hulls can take a lot of power - their righting moment is very high because they are wide. Wing sails are particularly suitable to generating more force, moreso than the average soft sail Your average sail can generate what we call a lift co-efficient of about 1-2 - a wing sail can generate 2, 2 ½, 3, 31/2…depending on how you configure them, which means for a square meter of sail or square foot of sail you can three times the load out of them. Similarly - which is also very good - when you “feather” them so they’re not actually generating any force, they’re really low drag, much moreso than a flapping sail - a comparable thing in a soft sail. So, they’re versatile and very, very powerful.”

On match racing, Fresh thinks there’s a whole new world of match racing that no-one has fully thought through or practiced yet but ... it’s coming.

"We’re looking forward to that,” Fresh said. “There’s been a few surprises for us with the 45 and all of them pleasant. One of them is that the boat turns and tacks incredibly fast. In fact the boys have had a number of times where they’ve tacked and they couldn’t get across the boat fast enough because they were flying a hull. “It could be really good match racing (LOL), which is surprising because it’s just not what you immediately think of multi hulls and classic match racing.”

Kostecki said everyone's working really hard at making these boats interesting to match race, and open-minded to do whatever it takes.

"Right now we’re thinking of having a start and a really short windward leg and then go off on a reach. The first windward leg may only be a minute or two and then you go off onto a reach and these boats will be quite exciting on a reach (he laughs!), so then we’ll be coming down the city front…I think it’ll be pretty cool. I think off the wind there could be a fair amount of passing - a poor jibe could cost you a lot and you’ll be passed for example. You have to be open-minded, we’re going to change the race track to make it fun, to make it suitable for these fast boats.”


  1. Great quote about changing the race track. It'll be so interesting to see what they come up with!