Yachting World - - 50 Yachts -

Few yacht de­sign in­no­va­tions are both rad­i­cal and im­me­di­ate in their im­prove­ment. Aus­tralia II, the 12-me­tre that be­came the first yacht ever to wrest the Amer­ica’s Cup from its Amer­i­can de­fender, was such an in­no­va­tion. Aus­tralia II de­feated Den­nis Con­ner’s Lib­erty in 1983 de­spite re­peated ef­forts by the New York Yacht Club to prove its il­le­gal­ity (and at­tempts by the Aus­tralian team to keep it se­cret). Lex­cen had turned to aero­nau­ti­cal en­gi­neer­ing tech­niques. When heeled over his innovative winged keel gave Aus­tralia II in­creased lift and a low­ered cen­tre of grav­ity for a sig­nif­i­cant up­wind ad­van­tage. Winged keels re­mained a fea­ture of the Amer­ica’s Cup – and were also preva­lent in many more main­stream de­signs for a pe­riod – un­til the last IACC class races in 2007.

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