Amer­ica’s Cup teams crack the foil­ing tack

Yachting World - - On The Wind -

Amer­ica’s Cup teams, now adept at foil­ing all the way through gybes, are be­gin­ning to per­fect the foil­ing tack. The first to claim the feat was Ja­panese team Soft­bank Ja­pan, which re­vealed it in Au­gust, de­spite first ac­com­plish­ing this back in April.

The ad­vance is a sig­nif­i­cant per­for­mance in­crease. Dur­ing the last Amer­ica’s Cup, teams could lose over 100m dur­ing each tack as they dropped off their foils and re­gained enough speed to fly again. Foil­ing all the way through re­duces that deficit.

The foil­ing tack it­self is not a new ma­noeu­vre and is some­thing that has been done by Moth sailors for some years. Those sailors have found that prac­tic­ing the tech­niques needed for foil­ing tacks can im­prove per­for­mance even if the ma­noeu­vre fails and the boat drops down dur­ing tacks.

“We cracked the foil­ing tack in April of this year and have made con­sis­tent gains in how we ap­proach and re­fine the ma­noeu­vre since,” says Soft­bank spokesman Matt Knighton. “The foil­ing tack, once per­fected and ex­e­cuted well, has the po­ten­tial to open up the tac­ti­cal game al­low­ing the team to tack more quickly to max­imise wind shifts, play cer­tain sides of the course, and cre­ate ad­van­tages in boat-on-boat sit­u­a­tions.”

But they are not the only team to have worked out how to foil all the way round the course. “You won’t think of it in terms of gains,” com­ments Or­a­cle Team USA tac­ti­cian and sail­ing team man­ager Tom Slingsby. “You have to think of it in terms of losses [if you can’t do it].”

Or­a­cle Team USA also says it cracked the foil­ing tack in April, and can now do it without the power-as­sisted hy­draulics on the test boat, which are not al­lowed in the Amer­ica’s Cup boats be­ing used next sum­mer.

Per­for­mance will un­dergo a step change when the teams’ new AC50S are launched in late De­cem­ber and all the teams are ex­pected to foil for a high per­cent­age of the Amer­ica’s Cup in Ber­muda. Whereas the AC45F boats used for World Series events fly for around 40 per cent of a race, these new boats may even­tu­ally be able to foil for al­most an en­tire race.

Above: New boats launched at Cannes Boat Show this year in­cluded the eye-pop­ping new La­goon Seventy7 cata­ma­ran

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