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Posted by on Nov 10, 2009 in Sailboat Racing, UK, US |

Larry Ellison’s Trimaran Flies on a Wing

When these multihulls race each other, probably in Valencia, Spain, the technology race will take center stage.

As evening falls on the East Coast of the United States, images like this can be found on Fox 5 San Diego’s site. It’s a beautiful afternoon on the West Coast and a remarkable new airfoil has been hoisted.

bor-wingsail-3707I know the perspective is skewed, but this new wing sail for Larry Ellison’s America’s Cup challenger, known as Dogzilla (BOR-90 is its official name) make the mast appear several times higher than the 90-footer is long. In fact, it’s reported to be more than twice the length of the boat. The wing was built in Anacortes, Washington, and unveiled in San Diego on Sunday evening.

This image was taken from Fox 5′s site shortly after the second image. Both are from video that’s streaming live as I write. Will the craft cast off its mooring and begin sailing? Click this link:  It’s a beautiful afternoon and I certainly hope they do!

The arrival of this rig is timely, given that the boat’s conventional carbon-fiber mast recently snapped and came crashing down. I’m sure everyone is holding their breath that nothing as dramatic will happen to this creation. bor-wingsail-3706

Although most people who care about the America’s Cup have stopped following its every legal gyration, the unveiling of this mast yesterday coincides with an apparent concession by Alinghi to agree to hold the match in Valencia, Spain, in February 2010. The Societe de Geneve, the club that officially holds the Cup, wanted to hold the event in Ras Al Khaimah, UAE, but the New York State Supreme Court ruled that out. SNG then proposed to hold the Cup in Australia in a venue they thought would be better, but after an unproductive meeting with the challenger, the Golden Gate Yacht Club, represented by BMW Oracle Racing, SNG issued a press release today stating that it has written to the challenging club, settling on the venue the BMW team preferred all along.

Now, only the next day, the American team has hoisted its wing sail and begun testing it on the 90-foot x 90-foot trimaran. Meanwhile, presumably, the 90-foot Alinghi catamaran is being prepped to ship from the UAE to Spain.

Here are some good links to more information about the wing from Sailing Scuttlebutt and Sail-World.  You can also find up-to-date info on the BMW Oracle Racing team website. A wing sail has been used before in Cup racing, in 1988, in San Diego, no less. In that event, Dennis Conner and the San Diego Yacht Club easily turned back the challenge of Michael Fay and New Zealand’s Mercury Bay Boat Club’s massive monohull by building a catamaran with a sophisticated wing sail. This series of Cup races, catamaran versus trimaran, should be a better match, assuming that the two boats end up in the same place at the same time with all parts intact.

—John Burnham

Wednesday update: Here’s BMW Oracle Racing’s video of the first 24 hours ending with the boat going sailing yesterday.