Friday, February 12, 2010

Stunning

What America’s Cup racing now looks like.
A BMWOracle Racing USA crewmember,
astride the right ama.


All of us were stunned.

Quite probably everyone on the planet was stunned.

At the sheer power of the America’s Cup challenger BMWOracle’s amazing USA.

At its performance over Swiss defender Alinghi 5, even in lighter winds.

Upwind, both faster, and pointing higher.

Downwind, surprisingly fast.

In Race One of America’s Cup 33, the boat’s extraordinary ‘wing’ – substituting a soft mainsail with a high-tech aerofoil – not only dazzled veteran sailors, but set what is likely to be a new benchmark for the evaluation of high-performance racing multihulls.

Astonishingly, the wing even improved USA’s performance when it drove the boat solo.

Nobody more was more nonplussed than Alinghi 5 skipper and tactician Brad Butterworth (NZL). “Were you there?” Brad asked a reporter with his trademark honesty and candor. He then put into words what everyone was thinking:

“When they sail right up to you, then go around you, that’s speed.”

Winning a protest in the pre-start dial-up – then stalling before it crossed the line – USA devoured the Swiss boat’s 600-meter lead in what seemed like just a few minutes.

On the downwind leg, USA17 opened up a long-distance lead that topped 4.5 kilometers.

Those who felt the downhill could be the wing’s weakness were, well, silenced.

It’s only one race.

But what a race.

What a boat.



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