February 15, 2010

BMW Rules the Seas

(photo:REUTERS/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)

The amount of Carbon Fiber used in F1 pales in comparison to what was used in the 2010 America's Cup Challenge. The Cup comes back to America with BMW-Oracle defeating the Swiss defender Alinghi.

If you like F1 high tech but may not be familiar with the new America's Cup boats, you will be fascinated. Check it out on americascup.com

BMW ORACLE Racing Team’s revolutionary wing sail powered trimaran USA convincingly won Race 2 off Valencia today to win the 33rd America’s Cup match outright.
The American team, founded ten years ago by software mogul Larry Ellison, achieved its ultimate goal when they powered across the finish line of Race 2 with a margin of 5 minutes and 26 seconds to defeat the Swiss Defender’s Alinghi 2-0.

Ellison sailed on board USA today, his first America’s Cup Match race proving a winning one.

BMW ORACLE Racing become the first American team to win the America’s Cup since 1992 when America3 defeated Il Moro de Venezia off San Diego.

San Francisco’s Golden Gate Yacht Club become the 28th American Defender of the America’s Cup.

Russell Coutts, CEO of BMW ORACLE Racing, has now won the America’s Cup four times, twice with his native New Zealand, once at the helm of the Swiss Alinghi team and now masterminding the success of Ellison’s American team.

In the evening twilight the giant black and white trimaran USA speared across the finish line off Valencia, a long way ahead of the Swiss team who first won the America’s Cup in New Zealand in 2000 and then successfully defended it against Emirates Team New Zealand in July 2007.

After a delay of over six hours waiting for the SE’ly wind to settle, Race 2 of the best of three series was contested in around 6-9 knots of breeze.

The showdown immediately unfolded in dramatic fashion when Alinghi were penalised for an error in the start box, the second successive penalty during the Pre-Start sequence. USA lead off the start line by 23 seconds but the Swiss team hooked into extra wind pressure on the right side of the course and a favourable 20 degrees shift in wind direction.

They profited progressively and at one stage were some 600 metres ahead of the BMW ORACLE Racing Team’s trimaran.

Unlike Friday’s whitewash, when USA sailed steadily away from Alinghi 5, the windward leg was nailbiting right until the American trimaran was able to round the first mark with a small lead.

On the approach to the windward mark of the 39 miles triangle shaped course, USA came back when they were able to squeeze inside the line of Alinghi, to turn 27 seconds ahead. Surging to 30 knots at times on the first of two 13 miles reaches, the powerful trimaran with its 223ft high solid wing sail rig was able to gain 2 minutes and 23 seconds by the second turning mark, the gybe, going on to win by 5 minutes and 29 seconds.

Valentine’s Day sees bright sunshine and light winds this morning around the Marina Real Juan Carlos 1, the beating heart of the 33rd America’s Cup.
The forecast looks fairly promising for Race 2 which is due to start around midday, although the race committee do plan to wait until the forecasted SE’ly breeze arrives and won’t be hurried. In many respects it is a similar situation to Friday Race 1 where the offshore breeze is due to give way a breeze from the southerly quadrant.

Alinghi 5 docked out first with Swiss timing at 0900hrs to their signature Red Hot Chili Peppers ‘Can’t Stop’. If this proves to be their last day as America’s Cup holders, team president Ernesto Bertarelli (SUI) wore a huge smile and looked relaxed as he stepped on board. They have the advantage of entry with right of way on starboard tack today and may try for revenge in the start box, and aim to pin a penalty of USA.

BMW ORACLE Racing’s USA crew looked equally relaxed and focussed. They left their base knowing they can make sailing history today. The triangle course is more of a challenge in terms of manoeuvres, boat handling and sailing on the tight reaches. But, once more we are heading into unknown territory. Some say Alinghi will be stronger around the reaching course, but others simply point to the extra righting moment of USA and the power to drag ratio of their wing weapon.

It could be a red letter day for Russell Coutts (NZL) the CEO of BMW ORACLE Racing. In 1995 he skippered Black Magic to win the America’s Cup for New Zealand 5-0 against Dennis Conner’s Young America Team and in 1993 he skippered Alinghi to win the America’s Cup 5-0 for Switzerland. In

Race officer Harold Bennett (NZL) said this morning:

“ We are going out for looking to midday but I am not sure we will see the breeze by then, and we have to wait for this offshore breeze to die away and for the wind to turn into the SE, it is going to be in that quadrant, southerly or SE. So we have to wait and see until it develops.”


  1. I was just thinking that Axis readers would enjoy a post about the BMW Oracle trimaran. This racing yacht is 90' x 90' and sports some wicked technology. The primary feature is the 230+ ft wing sail that replaces a traditional 'soft sail'. The wing sail has 9 aeleron-type flaps that are each hydraulically adjustable according to myriad telemetry inputs. The wing sail allows for massive sail camber which allows the boat to sail much closer to the wing. I think I heard 13 degrees for the BMW/O, which is outrageous. The boat also achieves top speeds over 3x true wind speed. Incredible engineering went into this (and Alinghi) vessel, I've read $250M+ with a design/engineering team of 100 or so people. Some info here for those not familiar:


  2. Thanks for the post. I always liked watching the America's Cup. I don't think it was televised this year, at least in the states.

  3. it was so condensed this time, just best out of 3

  4. AC- Thanks for a proper link

    Chris- It was not televised in the USA this year. However, you can watch replays at http://www.americascup.com/en/index.html

  5. America's Cup is amazing and I'm surprised it yasn't been cross promoted with F1 yet. Both hugely technological, expensive and dramatic outside the sport. Also just as secretive. Rear diffuser=hull/keel.

    When I was in New Zealand they have the sister ship of the winning yacht and for I forget how much I paid you can go with a crew and give 'er. It is amazingly fast and so unbelievably responsive. Definitely a cool sport/competition to follow!


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