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'Remarkable technology will thrill the masses'

Sea monster: SoftBank Team Japan

The cutting-edge technology in boat design has always been one of the biggest lures over the course of America’s Cup history.

That tradition continues to this day in the form of the awe-inspiring wing-sail, foiling catamarans capable of reaching speeds once thought unimaginable by a sailboat.

“The best part of the modern America’s Cup is the remarkable technology,” John Rousmaniere, the sailing expert and Cup author, said.

“As I’ve studied and written for many years about America’s Cup history, which reaches back to 1851, I’ve been in constant awe of the advances made in boats, hardware, and sailing techniques by their clever designers and builders and users. But there’s nothing like the last four years.

“Today’s Cup sailors have learnt how to make these contraptions, and I say that with respect, fly on their foils.

“Today they even fly when changing tacks, which means when they’re standing still with no wind in their sails — all this done by athletic engineers who, with ballet-like grace, not only work this miracle, but continue to do all the fundamental chores of steering, trimming sails, and keeping a tactical eye peeled at opponents.”

The racing yachts to be used in the 35th America’s Cup, the oldest trophy in international sport, are expected to exceed the speeds achieved by the larger AC72 at the previous event in San Francisco in 2013.

“The catamarans will be faster than last time, more manoeuvrable, and likely will foil all the way around the racetrack, given the right conditions,” Jimmy Spithill, the Oracle Team USA skipper, said.

Although Rousmaniere is in awe over the present Cup class that sail faster than the true wind speed, there are other aspects of modern day America’s Cup which he takes with a grain of salt.

“I’m getting used to the boats and believe they fit into the Cup’s long history of fostering innovation in powerful, challenging, cutting-edge boats,” he said.

“Still, I find the sailing rules complicated and miss the old international one boat-on-one boat challenge match setting with serious national identities.

“The businesslike, often aloof and impersonal, secrecy-first, hype-heavy aura is off-putting. I know it’s a business, but where’s the sport?”

Cup holders Oracle will make history when they defend sailing’s “Holy Grail” in Bermuda’s Great Sound next June.

It will be the first time that a team has defended the Cup in foreign waters by choice.

Asked how has Oracle’s breaking with tradition rubbed off on sailing enthusiasts in the United States, Rousmaniere, who has written over 30 books on sailing, including three on the America’s Cup, said: “I’m a big fan of Bermuda and Bermuda sailing, and wish them both all the best fortune. Yet most people I know are surprised that the defence is not in the defender’s home country.

“I and everybody I know love Bermuda and I’m sure that the sailing on Great Sound will be exciting, well-run and superb.”

The racing format of the America’s Cup features all six teams competing in the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers, the round-robin match racing that kicks off the next instalment of the “Auld Mug”.

The top four challengers will advance to the Challenger Play-offs while defender Oracle moves straight into the America’s Cup Match in which it will take on the winner of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Challenger Play-offs.

The opening race of the 35th America’s Cup will be race one of the qualifiers between Oracle and Team France on May 26.

It will be the first time the latest America’s Cup Class yachts, designed and created by each of the participating teams, and their crews engage in full competitive action.