The next America's Cup will be contested in radical, single-hull boats that will rise up on hydrofoils and speed across the tops of the waves.
America's Cup champion Emirates Team New Zealand, always bold in pushing the envelope of yacht design, unveiled the concept for a fully foiling monohull for the 2021 regatta in Auckland yesterday.
The fantastical-looking design , which from some angles looks like a giant nautical insect or beast, blends the tradition of a monohull with the modern advancement of foiling, which is all the rage in sailing.
The 75-foot boat, designed in conjunction with Challenger of Record Luna Rossa of Italy, will use twin canting T-foils to help lift the hull completely out of the water in order to increase speed. The foils will be ballasted to provide righting moment when sailing, and roll stability at low speed. The AC75 will not have a keel.
The AC75 will replace the AC50, a 50-foot foiling catamaran used in the 35th America's Cup earlier this year in Bermuda.
In the normal sailing mode, the AC75 will skim above the waves on the leeward foil and rudder, with the windward foil raised out of the water to reduce drag. Both foils can be lowered in pre-starts and through other maneuvers to provide extra lift and roll control, which also will be useful in rougher sea conditions.
"Our analysis of the performance of the foiling monohulls tells us that once the boat is up and foiling, the boat has the potential to be faster than an AC50 both upwind and downwind," Team New Zealand CEO Grant Dalton said in an announcement released early Tuesday New Zealand time.
"Auckland is in for a highly competitive summer of racing in 2020/2021."
Many more details are still to come, including cost, the type of sails and how the foil movement will be powered. ETNZ said there will be an element of one design to keep the costs down.
The class rule will be published by March 31.
Team New Zealand said the AC75 will provide for great match racing with the safety factor of being able to right itself if it capsizes.
The AC75 design is radical even for a Kiwi team that hit on a remarkably advanced 50-foot catamaran that it sailed to a stunning victory against two-time defending champion Oracle Team USA in June.
"This design process has been new territory for the team, starting with a clean sheet to develop a class — and we've loved it," ETNZ design coordinator Dan Bernasconi said.
"We wanted to see how far we could push the performance of monohull yachts to create a foiling boat that would be challenging to sail and thrilling to match race. We're really excited about the concept and can't wait to see it on the water."
Luna Ross Challenge chairman Patrizio Bertelli, who is CEO of the Prada fashion house, said the choice of a monohull was a fundamental condition for the Italians to return to the America's Cup.
"This is not a return to the past, but rather a step toward the future," he said. "It is a modern concept, at the high end of technology and challenging from a sporting point of view, which will deliver competitive and exciting match racing."
Team New Zealand's America's Cup boats over the years have been either spectacular successes or, in one instance, a spectacular failure.
In 1995, the Kiwis designed a fast boat that dominated the challenger fleet and then sailed to a five-race sweep of Dennis Conner off San Diego.
The Kiwis outsmarted everyone earlier this year, including powerhouse Oracle Team USA and its owner, tech tycoon Larry Ellison. Team New Zealand routed Oracle 7-1.
Then there was 2003, when the Kiwis failed to finish two races in a five-race sweep by Alinghi of Switzerland off Auckland. The New Zealand boat nearly sank in the first race before dropping out halfway up the first leg, and then the mast snapped in two and tumbled into the Hauraki Gulf in the fourth race.
Entries for the 2021 America's Cup open Jan. 1. The New York Yacht Club, which once held the Auld Mug for 132 years, has announced that it will challenge.