It’s a dream, it’s the racers’ holy grail, it has to be conquered, the oldest sporting trophy in the world, the America’s Cup reward, the Silver Ewer.
It’s a trophy of modern times, testimony to the evolution in the world and in boats for more than a century and a half (exactly 165 years)
Today, this is the dream of the French team led by Franck Cammas, Michel Desjoyeaux and Olivier de Kersauson, Groupama Team France.
For this particular quest, and from the moment the support of its title partner Groupama was announced in 2015, the French syndicate equipped itself with an AC45 Series, a one-design catamaran with a fixed wing. The aim was to participate in the America’s Cup preliminary rounds, the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series.
Meantime, a Design Team boasting some thirty or so engineers has been put together using different entities and enabling the design and construction of the future AC Class, the catamaran set to compete in the 35th edition of the America’s Cup, in Bermuda in 2017.
However, a rule decreed by the American defender of the trophy, Team ORACLE USA, prohibits any sailing with the AC Class 150 days prior to the first scheduled race of the America’s Cup Qualifiers, or the period prior to 26 December 2016.
The only solution for working around this rule, training and validating the various developments devised by the Design Team is the construction of a fraternal twin; a catamaran equipped with 45-foot hulls, but with all the rest of the elements synonymous with the AC Class, namely the wing, the beams and the POD.
In this way, the Test AC Class was born.
Class AC Test Tech Spec
She measures 45-foot, or 13.45 metres and features a fixed wing. Aside from hulls that are 1.5 metres shorter, this catamaran is 90% the same as the boat that will defend France’s chances in June 2017 in Bermuda.
Designed by thirty people, top-flight naval architects and engineers have spent over 25,000 man-hours working on this fully-carbon machine built in collaboration with the Multiplast and Décision yards. She’s so light that she can be moved out of the shed on rollers.
The one-design element of her wing is manufactured in New Zealand, while the rest is made in France, with the whole thing reminiscent of an airliner.
One of the main characteristics of the AC 45, besides her responsiveness and power, is the presence of foils, movable L-shaped appendages.
In upward of 10 knots of breeze (18.5km/hr), the catamaran takes off and only her leeward foil and two rudders remain in contact with the water.
Her acceleration is dazzling, heightened by the fact that the AC 45 creates her own wind. The Test AC Class has a performance reminiscent of a rib kitted out with two 150-horsepower engines, and reaches almost double the wind speed.
- Prototype catamaran with foils and a fixed wing
- Design: Groupama Team France
- LOA: 13.45m
- Beam: 8.472m
- Overall height:
- Height of the wing alone: 23.60m
- Ready-to-sail weight: 2,925kg (platform: 1,955kg, wing: 445kg, crew: 525kg)
- Water draught: 2.40m
- Peak speed: 45 to 50 knots
- 6 crew aboard (1 helmsman/skipper, 1 wing trimmer, 1 tactician, 2 sail trimmers and 1 bowman)
From the AC Class Test to the AC Class
The Test AC Class is a laboratory catamaran designed exclusively for training and whose existence is fleeting but crucial in terms of Groupama Team France’s development.
This foiling prototype will sail in Breton waters from July to late December 2016 to enable the team to validate the technical choices made since October 2015, as well as and above all continuing to make developments and decisions regarding the construction of future parts and systems that will be on the AC Class.
In late 2016, the Test AC Class will give way to the AC Class, with the latter incorporating the bulk of the first structure aside from the hulls.