Forecast: Windy, with a fair chance of excellent TV (pics)
They’re calling it Star Wars on the Water. The winged keel on Australia II looks about as innovative as furry dice on a Commodore against the designs of the two most technologically-advanced yachts ever built, expected to finally start racing tonight (Australian time) in the 33rd America’s Cup.
(Update: Racing was postponed again on Wednesday due to heavy seas. Next possible start is February 12.)
The open ended design rules for the match between defender Alinghi of Switzerland and challenger BMW Oracle of the USA have produced two stunning-looking craft which look more like they should be attacking a Death Star than bobbing about on the water.
A selection of pictures which hopefully capture the huge size and outrageous design of the boats follows, along with some trivia about the event. And perhaps most fun of all, the only thing bigger in yacht racing than the boats themselves is the egos at stake.
If you’re wondering who to barrack for, go for the Yanks. The skipper is a young Australian named Jimmy Spithill, a Sydneysider with a fearsome reputation in international yachting for his aggressive, encroaching tactics that engender hatred and fear in other captains.
The forecast so far is for wind so at the very least the start could be worth watching to see these things go. Coverage is live on Fox Sports 3 from 10pm AEDT. Details here.
The boats are about 20 storeys high. At 68m, the sail on BMW Oracle is longer than the wing of an A380.
As BMW Oracle’s skipper, Spithill wears military-standard “sunglasses” which project data about the boat’s performance into a virtual space which stays in his field of vision regardless of where he is looking.
BMW Oracle has a two-part mainsail with a “wing” towards the rear which can be rotated at various angles to the forward portion, allowing the crew to get the best shape on the sail for the conditions.
Alinghi controversially uses an engine which helps raise and control the boat’s giant sails.
Though yachts usually race under strict rules on sizes of sails, hull and materials, the design teams were practically able to start with a blank sheet of paper. Both boats are 90ft long but that’s one of the few similarities - Alinghi is a catamaran, while BMW Oracle is a trimaran.
The emphasis on design means the race could be over before the boats even cross the start line. Some fans are upset by this, arguing the race is more about money and engineering than the skill of the crew.
One last photo: the world’s most powerful helicopter was required to lift Alinghi 5 from its shed to Lake Geneva for its first sail.
And here’s some video of each of the boats. Alinghi:
BMW Oracle - going at 20-25 knots in about 12 knots of wind:
The weather might spoil it as it did earlier this week but if the conditions are right it could be well worth settling in tonight with a glass of port or whatever it is you drink when watching sailing. Just don’t expect Kevin Rudd to say you shouldn’t be fired for coming in tomorrow.
Follow me on Twitter: @colgo
Get The Punch on Facebook
Read all about it
Up to the minute Twitter chatter
The latest and greatest
Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…
I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…
In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…