This June, Jimmy Spithill will lead his team, Oracle Team USA, out onto the waters of Bermuda to defend the America’s Cup. Recently, the team revealed the catamaran it will use for the competition. The catamaran, an AC50 model, is bound together with a lattice of carbon fiber tubing. Red Bull and Oracle Team USA are calling it “the world’s fastest sailboat.”
Oracle Team USA is no stranger to incorporating composite construction for catamarans for the America’s Cup as well as other applications. In November 2016, Spithill lead a crew from Bermuda to New York in just 66 hours on a foiling, composite-made catamaran known as the F4. Spithill has said the journey made him a better sailor and served as good preparation for the America’s Cup.
For more than six years, the team has partnered with New Zealand-based Core Builders Composites. Their facility has been used by Oracle Team USA for their America’s Cup projects dating back to the wingsailed trimaran of the 2010 America’s Cup, and again for the successful defense of the America’s Cup in 2013.
Oracle Team USA announced in 2014 it would also partner with Airbus on aerodynamics, instrumentation and simulation, composites, structures, hydraulics and data analysis expertise for the AC50. To optimize performance, Core Builders Composites invested in cost reduction methods and materials for manufacturing composite tooling.
“We are using cheaper mold making techniques and cheaper carbon fiber, including a lot of recycled carbon fiber to build all carbon molds,” said Tim Smyth, Manager at Core Builders Composites. “We prefer to use all carbon molds because they stay nice and true.”
Oracle Team USA, however, will face steep competitor from Emirates Team New Zealand and the UK’s Land Rover Ben Ainslie Racing, who have revealed their own AC50 catamarans for the America’s Cup. Core Builders Composites has built tooling in conjunction with Cookson Boats, the team building parts from that tooling for the AC50 for Emirates Team New Zealand.
The 2017 America’s Cup will take place June 17 in Bermuda. For more information, visit https://www.americascup.com/en/bermuda.html.