Friday, 28 January 2011
The giant trimaran that won the 33rd America’s Cup for Larry Ellison’s ORACLE Racing team is heading home to San Francisco
USA 17. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/ORACLE Racing.
by Tim Jeffery
USA 17 has only ever competed twice, but she sailed the races of her life to dominate the Swiss defender, Alinghi, off Valencia, Spain, last year and win the 33rd America’s Cup.
The extraordinary carbon-fibre machine is being loaded onto the freighter M.V. Star Isfjord this week for the long delivery trip to San Francisco via the Panama Canal. The freighter carrying both USA 17 and her extraordinary 223ft wingsail is scheduled to leave Valencia on January 29 or 30 for the 7,900-nautical-mile passage to the Bay Area.
The estimated arrival in San Francisco, dependent upon on-time loading, sea conditions en-route and transit time in the Panama Canal, is March 1.
The trimaran’s arrival will mark the first time that USA 17 visits the city that ORACLE Racing calls home. She was launched in Anacortes, WA, in August 2008, and after initial testing there moved to San Diego, CA, for a further period of training before being moved to Valencia for the 33rd Cup Match last February.
Measuring more than 100 feet long and 90 feet wide and powered by a 20-storey tall wingsail, USA 17 is the fastest yacht to ever win the America’s Cup. It has been in storage in Valencia since winning the Cup on Feb. 14, 2010.
With the ORACLE Racing team fully focused on laying the groundwork for its 34th America’s Cup campaign in 2013, the provisional plan is to continue to keep USA 17 in storage after unloading. An announcement about the vessel’s sailing plans will be made later this year.
“The handful of us privileged to sail on USA 17 would love to sail her again in an instant. I dare say all those who never had this chance would like to as well,” said ORACLE Racing skipper James Spithill.
“But the stark reality is that every aspect of the boat, every component, was built right to the limit so that for every hour’s sailing USA 17 required 20 hours of painstaking and rigorous maintenance. For the time being the team’s focus will be on the America’s Cup ahead.”