On the Bay

AC72 wingsail and crossbeams arrive at Oracle Team USA

Race yacht to be assembled in San Francisco, set sail in August
AC72 crossbeams (rear) and 2-piece wingsail ready for transport in Oakland (Photo: Guilain Grenier / Oracle Team USA)

The 12-story-tall wingsail and hull crossbeams for the first of Oracle Team USA’s two AC72 America’s Cup yachts arrived June 12 at the team’s base on Pier 80 in San Francisco.

“It’s a major step in the course of our campaign to win the America’s Cup again,” said Jimmy Spithill, the youngest skipper to have won the
America’s Cup.

The components arrived in Oakland from New Zealand on the container ship Cap Vilano. Due to the length and height of the load, the top and bottom halves of the 130-foot (40-meter) high wingsail had to be trucked south to San Jose, then north up the I-280 to its final destination at Pier 80, which sits at the eastern end of Cesar Chavez Street.

The smaller crossbeams, which will link the two hulls of the 46-foot (14-meter) wide AC72 catamaran, were trucked directly across the Bay Bridge. They will be assembled with the hulls that are currently under construction at Pier 80.

The wing and crossbeams were constructed by Core Builders Composites in Warkworth, New Zealand. Under competition rules, the hulls themselves must be built in the country a team represents. Earlier this year, the Oracle team began constructing molds for the hulls at Pier 80, before shipping the molds to Janicki Industries in Seattle, Wash. to be refined to exacting tolerances. The hulls will be completed at Pier 80 in July as the boatbuilding team laminates high-strength, carbon-fiber cloths with epoxy resin.

When finished, the wingsail-powered AC72 will have a speed potential of 40 knots (46 mph/74 kph). When the boat goes for test sails on the Bay, Spithill predicts, “I guarantee it will stop the traffic.”

Under America’s Cup rules, teams are not allowed to launch their AC72s before July 1, 2012. Oracle Team USA plans to have a boat sailing this August to start more than two months of testing on San Francisco Bay.

“After the hundreds of hours of design and thousands of man-hours of construction, it’s a significant milestone to see these components become reality,” said design team member Dirk Kramers, who observed the arrival of the components with other members of the design team.

Meanwhile, the inaugural 2011–2012 America’s Cup World Series (racing smaller AC45s) will be decided at its final stop in Newport, R.I. on July 1. Heading into the final races, Oracle Team USA’s own Jimmy Spithill held a 4-point lead over Emirate’s Team New Zealand with only two more points separating third place Team Artemis from fourth place Energy Team from France. While the inaugural season will be ending July 1, the 2012–2013 AC World Series will be kicking off right here on our own bay from Aug. 21–26, with a second race series scheduled for Oct. 2–7.

Between the upcoming AC World Series and the launch of Oracle’s new AC72 next month, a stroll down to any vantage point along the Bay should get you an up-close and personal view of a historic evolution in sailing.

Stay tuned next month for a detailed look at the huge differences between the AC45 and new AC72, along with an in-depth look at the new way America’s Cup races will be televised.

Jim Maxwell has been sailing for 20 years and thinks there is no finer place to be than on San Francisco Bay. E-mail: [email protected]
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