Oracle set to unleash AC45 on Great Sound
The first America's Cup Class catamaran is set to make its debut this week in the Great Sound — venue for the 35th instalment of the “Auld Mug”.
Oracle Team USA, the defender, are scheduled to launch their wing-sail foiling AC45 on Friday.
Over the coming days the team's various engineers will install and test all of the systems in the boat before it resumes sea trials.
“We will lift the boat up and put the daggerboards in and then once those are in the guys will get the hydraulics hooked up to everything and just kind of go through the tests with the computer and electronic guys to make sure the computers are all working,” Matt Cassidy, the Oracle captain, explained.
“We will then wheel it out and do a little load testing to make sure everything is good. “The wing (wing-sail) will then come out and the guys will hook it up and do some preliminary tests with it on the ground but connected to the boat. And once everything is good there the wing goes in the air on to the platform for more tests and then we go sailing.”
Oracle's AC45 had been a prototype for the AC62, the design to be used for the 2017 America's Cup, as outlined in the original Protocol. However, the majority of teams voted in favour of changing the class rule from the AC62 catamaran to the smaller AC48 as a cost-cutting measure at a competitor forum.
It is the first time in America's Cup history that the class rule has been revised in midstream and the smallest boats to be used in the event's history.
Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa both opposed the amendment, with the latter withdrawing from the 35th America's Cup criticising decisions by organisers as unprecedented and illegitimate.
Oracle's team of engineers began assembling various components of the souped-up AC45 last week, less than two weeks after it arrived on a container ship.
“It comes out of the container basically in about five or six pieces,” Mr Cassidy explained. “You have the two hulls and the back of the hulls come off and those are attached to the aft beam.
“Then you have the forward beam which goes on together and then the centre pod, so there's five major pieces for the platform and then the wing will go on once the platform is all set.”
The AC45 boasts state-of-the-art technology and is believed to have the potential to go three times faster than the actual wind speed.
The journey of Oracle's AC45 from San Francisco to Bermuda was interrupted after US marshals arrested the vessel in response to a maritime lien filed by sailor Joe Spooner, whose contract with the US America's Cup racing syndicate was terminated in January.
The New Zealand sailor is seeking unpaid wages and damages for alleged wrongful termination of his contract. According to American Maritime law, a vessel can be held until a bond is posted if a sailor is owed wages for work already performed.
The United States District Court for the Northern District of California, Judge Joseph C Spero, granted Oracle's request to have their boat released after a hearing.