Encapsulating the 34th America’s Cup – the best sailors in the world on the fastest boats – the AC72 will be a physically demanding boat capable of top speeds twice the windspeed.
The new AC72 class is the first-ever wingsail catamaran class for the America’s Cup and the fastest-ever class in the iconic 159-year-old competition. It replaces the ACC monohull class, which was created in 1988 and first raced in 1992 Cup.
The new AC72 class catamarans will make their racing debut in the 2012 season for the America’s Cup World Series ahead of the 34th Match in 2013.
A catamaran was selected as one element to transform and enliven the America’s Cup for the future. A multihull is the ideal dynamic class, capable of being raced hard in winds from 5 to 30 knots to minimize racing delays due to winds too light or too strong.
AC72 design parameters:
LOA 22.0 meters (72 feet)
Beam 14.0 meters (46 feet)
Displacement 5,700 kilograms (12,500 pounds)
All-up weight 7,000 kilograms (15,500 pounds)
Wingsail area 260 square meters (2,800 square feet)
Wingsail height 40 meters (130 feet)
Wingsail chord 8.5 meters (28 feet)
Sail trimming Manual grinders
Configuration Twin-hulled catamaran
Sail trimming No mechanically powered systems
Sail area reduction Removable top sections/leech elements
Appendages Maximum of 2 rudders, 2 daggerboards
Construction Minimum 600 grams per square meter outer-skin;
High-modulus carbon-fiber permitted in wingsail spar
The AC72 Class Rule was drafted by a distinguished group of consultants, chaired by Pete Melvin, on behalf of US SAILING.
Melvin, formerly a designer of aircraft for the McDonnell Douglas Corp. is a champion multihull sailor, having twice won the A Class Catamaran World Championship. Morrelli & Melvin Design & Engineering, Inc., also designed the record-setting maxi catamaran PlayStation.
Organizers of the 34th America’s Cup believed it was essential that the first new class of boat to be introduced since 1992 should be developed independent of any of the teams competing. A Concept Brief was published in June setting out the performance and operational requirements.
The AC72 is a “box rule.” This narrows down the design parameters so that while teams have freedom to create their own boats, they will be similar in dimensions in order to ensure close racing.
Hulls and beams will have to be assembled in two days and disassembled in one to allow America’s Cup teams to move efficiently between venues. Replaceable “crumple zone” bow and stern cones will allow for quick repair in the in the cut-and-thrust of racing.
To fast-track all teams to a common level of technology, a new, smaller class of identical wingsail catamaran, the AC45, will be used for the 2011 ACWS season while teams create their new high-performance catamaran.
To ensure the fairest possible competition for the 34th America’s Cup, the draft of the AC72 rule is being made available to teams for feedback before it is finalized. A similar process was used to create the Protocol for the 34th America’s Cup.
Not only does this give all teams a voice in the rule creation process, but they will have all competition rules finalized before entering the competition – another first in the America’s Cup.
Once finalized, the AC72 Class Rule will be administered by the newly created independent organization, America’s Cup Race Management.