Tuesday, 10 November 2009

America's Cup: Secret Weapon Revealed by BMW ORACLE Racing

The Wing in the tent in San Diego. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

by Peter Rusch

The latest development by the BMW ORACLE Racing team was unveiled Sunday when an enormous wing was prepared to be wheeled out of the tent at the team base in San Diego.

The wing will be tested as an option to increase performance compared with a traditional soft sail rig as previously sea-trialed on the BOR 90, the 90-foot trimaran the team has built for the 33rd America’s Cup.

The construction of the wing took place at Core Builders, the team’s boatbuilding facility in Anacortes, Washington, with finishing work completed at the team base in San Diego.

The Team with the Wing. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

“This was a massive undertaking,” said Tim Smyth (NZL), who, along with Mark Turner (NZL), has been overseeing the wing construction team in Anacortes and in San Diego.

“Building a wing of this size was something new for all of us, and we’re proud our guys were able to rise to the challenge.”

A wing of this scale has never been built for a race boat. In terms of size, the wing on BOR 90 dwarfs those on modern aircraft. Towering nearly 190 ft (57 m) above the deck, it is 80 percent bigger than a wing on a 747 airplane (102 ft / 31 m).

The primary advantage of the wing over a soft sail is that it is easier to control and does not distort. This makes it easier for the trimmers on board to maintain an optimum aerofoil shape in a wide range of conditions.

Wing outside the tent. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

For his part, sailing coach Glenn Ashby (AUS) can't wait to see it on the BOR 90: "This is one of the most awesome sailing projects you could ever be involved with in terms of pushing technology. Just seeing it go out on the water is going to be awesome.

"It's going to take a few days before we get it loaded up and get going. But I think when we really start winding it up, it's going to be an incredible experience. If the big wing is anything like the smaller wings (which Glenn has sailed on A and C Class catamarans) when you get up to speed and get it going, it's just going to be awesome."

Full-scale, on-the-water testing of the wing will begin later this week as the team resumes sea trials in preparation for the 33rd America’s Cup Match in February.

BMW ORACLE Racing blog

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