Sleek wing-sail catamarans receive more visibility, but America's Cup World Series organizers make significant use of advanced materials in their on-water workhorse craft.
America's Cup Race Management owns 29 support boats, said Andy Hindley, ACRM chief operating officer. The vessels include 12 rigid inflatable boats for course marshal, umpiring, medical, rescue and security functions.
Hindley said Extreme Boats Group in Warmond, the Netherlands, designed and assembled 10 of the RIBs. Marstrom Composite AB of Västervik, Sweden, supplied Extreme with preimpregnated carbon-fiber-reinforced components that were cured in an autoclave.
Hindley likes the Extreme boats. “They are very light and have incredible acceleration with ability to get in and out” of locations on the water.
Each 27-foot Extreme weighs 1,870 pounds with an engine — not including fuel — and can reach 53 miles per hour, Hindley said in an interview in San Diego. Twin 115-horsepower Yamaha Motor Corp. engines are on four RIBs, single 225-horsepower Yamahas on four more Extremes and in-board inject-drive Steyr Motors GmbH marine diesel engines on the two medical boats.
Rayglass Boats of Auckland, New Zealand, with its Protector brand, provided the other two RIBs.
Hindley said teams own a total of 11 support boats and are evaluating 41-foot composite Extreme demonstration models with twin 300-horsepower Yamaha engines.
For on-water VIP viewing purposes, ACRM in March ordered six 44-foot power-driven fiberglass catamarans from East Asia Composites Ltd. of Zhuhai, China. Organizers used the first two cats in San Diego with each able to accommodate 12 guests. Each FRB13 has a Volvo Penta IPS 450 engine with a dynamic positioning system incorporating global-positioning-system technology for on-water holds without anchoring.
An ACRM design team in Australia developed the boat's concept and worked with the Chinese firm.
“We are now using eight LeisureCats” for the VIPs, Hindley said. LeisureCat Australia is located in Bibra Lake, Australia, near Fremantle.
Teams in the six-event world series compete during 2011-2012 in polymer-matrix-composite-laden 45-foot-long catamarans, known as AC45s.
Core Builders Composites Ltd. of Warkworth, New Zealand, built the one-design AC45s. Software magnate Larry Ellison's Oracle Racing Inc. owns Core Builders and, as winner of the 33rd America's Cup in February 2010, established the protocols for the next cycle.
Two teams from U.S. defender Oracle Racing and seven others from France, Sweden, New Zealand, South Korea, China and Spain participated in the San Diego event with match races, fleet races and individual time trials on Nov. 12-20. The time-trial winner exceeded 31 mph — nearly double the prevailing breeze — over the 500-meter course.
Earlier road-show events occurred in Cascais, Portugal, on Aug. 6-14 and Plymouth, England, on Sept. 10-18. Each relocation requires significant logistics.
For the 30-day trip from Plymouth to San Diego through the Panama Canal, the cargo ship HR Constitution transported nine AC45s, the equivalent of 108 20-foot-long shipping containers, material-handling equipment and the support boats, said Peter Ansell, ACRM onshore operation director. The shipment weighed 6.6 million pounds.
The 2012 schedule includes two world series events in Italy — April 7-15 in Naples and May 12-20 in Venice — and the series conclusion June 23 through July 1 in Newport, R.I.
The world series in AC45s precedes competitions in yet-to-be-built 72-foot catamarans en route to the finals for the 34th America's Cup in San Francisco, tentatively scheduled for Sept. 7-21, 2013.
Organizers need certification of an environmental impact report — and avoidance of litigation delays — before seeking dozens of essential permits from numerous government regulatory agencies.
Within specified limits, each team is secretly designing and beginning to build at least one AC72 in the team's country of origin.
Organizers prohibit the launch of any AC72 prior to July 1, 2012, in an effort to equalize opportunity for entrants with widely varying budgets.