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AC36: ETNZ reveal the soft wing-sail they are testing for the next Cup

AUCKLAND – The concept being tested has a large "D" shaped section mast, developed and built by Southern Spars, with separate mainsails on either side, providing a smooth transition from the mast to sail in its aerodynamic shape. Once the mast is in, the sail can be raised and lowered in conventional fashion, eliminating the need for the daily crane work required to attach the hard one-piece wingsails used on the catamarans in the last two America's Cups in San Francisco and Bermuda. Teams will be able to change sails while at sea and also lower the sails to be towed back to their bases, an important factor for Auckland conditions where the 2021 regatta is planned. Designers from Italy's LUNA ROSSA syndicate, the official challenger of record, and representatives from Southern Spars and North Sails, witnessed the testing that saw Glenn Ashby himself a sail expert, on the tiller for the two days of trialling. It's a breakthrough concept for a simplistic wingsail and one that will help keep the top end of the massive boats light enough to enable them to self-right from capsizes. "There have been lots of attempts at having what you'd call a thickened mainsail, more of a soft wing, but nothing has been done on this scale at all," said Steve Collie, who is the mast and sails co-ordinator in Team New Zealand's design group where he has been involved in four Cup campaigns. "The purpose of it wasn't really to test performance. The boat was very different...a non-foiling boat and went at very different speeds and wind angles that we would expect to sail [the AC 75]. We were more testing the mechanics, that we could get the thing up and down and how the shape set up. It was really promising."Duncan Johnstone (NZL) in an article just out on the website. Read Duncan's insightful full story here, complete with a video, ETNZ photos, and a bit of Kiwi cheerleading. ;)

This soft wing-sail trimaran test was foretold by your Ed. in the "What's Up with the Cup" talk I gave at St Francis Yacht Club's Wednesday Yachting Luncheon 10 days ago. (StFYC is now livestreaming their WYL's, and you can watch a replay of that 75-minute webcast here – as always you can fast forward through it). Yes, Julia and Peter, yet another small SI prediction coming true is not a big deal – as I am fond of saying, "That and $3.75 barely gets you a small Flat White at Starbucks." But we are grateful for our amazing sources throughout the sailing world and the hot tips they continue to feed us. Eat your heart out "Nav."

North Sails' Burns Fallow (NZL) and Team New Zealand designers Dan Bernasconi (GBR/NZL) and Steve Collie (NZL) watch the test wing sail being put into the test trimaran. Mr Collie said, "Essentially we are looking for a new advancement in mainsail technology that we would like to think can trickle down to other boats not in the America's Cup." Photos (both) courtesy of Emirates Team New Zealand via

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