Although we understand not all sailors are racers, we do like to keep up with the America’s Cup because it’s not only sailing’s preeminent event it also always carries trickle down ramifications for technological advancements for all of us.
The big news this week is Patrizio Bertelli, team principal of Challenger Luna Rossa, has stated, on the record, that the 36th America’s Cup will be sailed in foiling monohulls. By the way, we predicted that in a piece right after the last Cup concluded – that has nothing to do with the content of this story but sometimes bragging just happens.
“We’re back to monohulls,” Bertelli said in an interview with the Italian newspaper La Stampa. “They will be very powerful boats, but [as for] technical details, for example with foils or canting keels, we will see them later.”
It will be interesting to see how the sailing world will react to this development. So many purists detested the flying catamarans that held the spotlight in the last two America’s Cup editions and openly sighed at the lack of relatability to ordinary sailing. Foiling monos will be all kinds of experimental but at least they will likely resemble something similar to a normal sailboat and perhaps that will bring back the audience that left feeling abandoned. It’s doubtful that one of these boats will have an onboard exercise bicycle for generating energy like the kiwi team had in this past event. There has never been a sight less traditional-looking than crewmen continually peddling four exercise bicycles as two others sailed the boat around the course.
Many will, of course, be somewhat happier with this change but does this announcement of foiling monos definitively mark the end of the America’s Cup identity as a time-honored gentleman’s game? That already happened you say, the last decade has been about off the wall multihull design. True, but is this as far as the referendum will go? If so, we are officially in the world of flying boats from here on in and the America’s Cup will be more like X games than golf.
With that in mind, how does all of this influence the trickle down effect that was part of the fun? There was a time when the engineers and designers of America’s Cup boats would introduce a new sail material or running rigging solution and the sailing public would say, “Oh really? I will have that on my boat please.” But with hard wings and lifting foils, it’s not the same.
Well, maybe more and more sailboats will have foiling capabilities. Probably not. We’ve reached a point of separation. The days of creating technology to make a traditional boat go faster are over, therefore the systems and approach to managing those systems are unique and idiosyncratic.
It seems that this storied event has crossed over into a different species and that’s not neccesarily a bad thing. The 36th Cup looks to address other elements like nationalism and affordability which could make this next event very exciting and really fun to watch. It’s very possible we could see 12 or more separate countries with full crews rounding marks at 30-knots resembling Cups from the past… except the hulls won’t be touching the water. Ah well, roll with the times and enjoy the ride!