It’s still a competition between sailing yachts, but the America’s Cup may soon belong to the flying contest category. In 2017, in Bermuda, it is expected that the participating yachts in the next edition of the America’s Cup will be able to race 100% foilborne.
“It’s a new world,” explained Ken Read to the America’s Cup official website. “Flying catamarans, foilings tacks, a revolution in the America’s Cup.” Foils have indeed turned into one of the key differentiators between the teams. In such a competitive world, it seems every team is trying to put the pressure on their counterparts by communicating about their foiling firsts.
Team Japan’s Foiling Tack
Team Japan may have reached the biggest milestone, achieving a foiling tack. Reaching this holy grail of combined sailing and flying means that yachts can now foil during an entire racecourse.
We had the opportunity to ask Glenn Ashby, Emirates Team New Zealand’s skipper, a few email questions about foils, here are his answers.
Fast When Foiling, Not Just Foiling
“Yes, I think we will see races where the hulls stay dry in some conditions. It is the key, but you also need to be fast when foiling, not just foiling.
Daggerboards’ design and the control of how you use the daggerboards will be how the desired stability will be controlled.”
More Like an L Than a C
“The foils are [shaped] more like an L than a C now, like they were in AC34 [The 34th America’s Cup, held on San Francisco Bay in 2013]. As control of foiling has got better, the foils have changed both in section shape and in profile.”
A Big Challenge
“It’s a big challenge to design them for sure, and also to learn to use them well. A lot of performance lies in this area.
Speed sailed and section shape largely affects cavitation. It is real and the foils are designed as this being one of the parameters.”
Way Safer With Foils
“The boats are actually way safer with foils than without, believe it or not. Some parts needed to be beefed up as the hulls do not take the side load anymore, like they used to do.”