The news that the first AC40, Alinghi Red Bull Racing, has sailed in the beautiful waters of Barcelona for the first time, marks a new chapter in the 37th America’s Cup as this most exciting new foiling class of yachts start to be sailed by some of the world’s very best sailors. INEOS Britannia have also sailed their first AC40 over in Palma and with Emirates Team New Zealand completing a stunning two-boat testing week in the team’s two AC40s we are starting to see just what a spectacle these boats will be when they are handed over to the Women’s & Youth teams that are forming all around the globe to compete in dedicated events through the Challenger Series and America’s Cup Match in September and October 2024.
In interview after interview, the sailors have been universally praising the performance of the AC40 straight-out-of-the box and it is testament to the precision boatbuilding of McConaghy’s alongside the supremely technical build of the foils, arms and mechanism undertaken by the Emirates Team New Zealand North Shore facility, that has made these boats the ultimate in plug-and-play.
Grant Dalton, CEO of America’s Cup Events Limited, speaking about the launch of the first four AC40s commented: “It was great to see both Alinghi Red Bull Racing and INEOS Britannia launch and sail their AC40s on the same day. Especially good to see the Swiss sailing so well in Barcelona, really getting the boat flying at high speeds and almost instantaneously having the confidence and skill to go into rapid manoeuvres. That’s what we always envisaged for the class, and it will be the perfect platform to bring through the next generation of foiling sailors through the Women’s & Youth America’s Cup events. We’re also looking forward to seeing the senior teams going head-to-head in the pre-events that we have planned. This is a very exciting, future-looking next phase of the America’s Cup.”
What many experienced Cup watchers have been impressed by is the sheer speeds that the AC40s have been able to generate. Top speeds have been recorded into the high 40-knot mark and when lined-up boat-to-boat, it makes for a tremendous spectacle of grand-prix foiling sailing. Emirates Team New Zealand, with two boats, have been able to set races and almost immediately the boats were into aggressive tactics, circling pre-starts and lee-bow tacks. The confidence that the boats engender, particularly in the strict one-design mode that they will be sailed in for the Women’s & Youth America’s Cup events guarantees incredibly close racing at high projected speeds. Even at the lower end of the scale, the AC40s are capable of generating huge power that regularly sees them flying at three times the wind speed.
With Alinghi Red Bull Racing now sailing their AC40 alongside the team’s AC75 (BoatZero), the new platform affords the team greater flexibility to rotate the Driving and Power Groups and as Nils Frei, Head Coach of Alinghi Red Bull Racing says: “the AC40 will give us some great sailing days and simpler boat logistics.” Arnaud Psarofaghis, skipper of the Swiss Team echoed that, adding: “The AC40 will allow us to develop our sailing skills with greater flexibility and efficiency. We will rotate the sailors on and off, it is the pre-regatta boat, so we need to learn to use it to its full potential before the first race. It’s important to get the hang of it as it will also be the boat for the Youth & Women’s America’s Cup.”
With the America’s Cup teams now receiving and sailing their AC40s, attention is turning to the Women’s & Youth teams that will be formed, some from within the umbrella of the senior teams but also from yacht club teams from around the world. To date, three teams have been issued their invitations into both events with strong and experienced challenges received from: The Royal Vancouver Yacht Club, representing Canada; The Dutch Sail Team from both the Royal Netherlands Yacht Club and the Royal Maas Yacht Club representing the Netherlands; and Team BCN from the Real Club Náutico de Barcelona, representing Spain, the host country of the 37th America’s Cup.
Competing at the Women’s or Youth America’s Cup is the ultimate showcase for the next generation of talent with an exciting mix of fleet and match racing on a racecourse positioned just a few hundred metres off the natural amphitheatre of the Barcelona beachfront. The teams will be based at the Port Olimpic, set in the heart of the beachfront, allowing spectators to get close to both the boats and athletes and promises to be one of the most vibrant, and intensely competitive parts of the whole event.
The launch now of four AC40s across three teams is a significant milestone in the journey to the 37th America’s Cup in Barcelona and with Women’s & Youth programmes being announced and intensive evaluations underway, the next generation of foiling sailing superstars are about to be uncovered whilst the most fascinating next chapter in the history of the America’s Cup is about to be written.