Building of the new 25m ultra hi-tech racing machine involves advanced 'oven baked' construction techniques, while the structure itself has evolved from leading edge designs incorporating aerospace technology and research similar to that used in both aircraft and Formula One racing cars.
The yacht, which will be launched in April next year and will be the first new Version 5 America's Cup Class yacht to be built will serve as a tune-up racing yacht for the South African America's Cup Team Shosholoza and replace the current yacht Shosholoza RSA 48 which was always only intended for crew sail training.
The tune-up yacht will also be used as a development boat for a second new race yacht which will incorporate considerably more research, intensive tank testing and computer modelling.
This second new yacht will be launched in 2006 and continuously developed through 2006 and into 2007 prior to the America's Cup itself.
Responsible for the design of the new yachts is a local team of naval architects led by leading British yacht designer Jason KER. The highly skilled team includes specialist engineers, fluid dynamicists, experts in composite structures and other software experts previously involved in the South African aerospace industry.
'The tune-up yacht will effectively provide Team Shosholoza with a faster boat to race against the leading teams on a more level playing field, while also giving the design and construction teams a 'dry run' for the final race-boat,' said Ker.
He said a yacht construction team of 15 specialist builders is running the project under build manager Tony Evans who has been involved with the construction of two previous America's Cup Class Yachts.
Work started this week on the deck mould frames while the hull moulds will be completed by the end of the year. Following the lamination process the hull and deck will be joined early next year. The lamination process involves 'cooking' the structure in a vast purpose designed oven that is big enough to accommodate the entire hull. Dust free and spotlessly clean it has been specially built from steel frames, galvanised sheeting and insulated panels.
'Resin impregnated fibres, which are also used in the building of aircraft and Formula One Racing cars, are used in the building of the hull and deck and the lamination requires three or four stages of 'oven baking,' said Evans. 'The baking is a totally computerised process and scientifically controlled by a specially developed software package, the sole purpose being to achieve a super light, ultra strong and stiff structure.'
A testing period will follow the fitting of the keel, rudder and mast with the official launch date set for Freedom Day, 27 April. The yacht will then be shipped to Europe for the 2005 America's Cup Acts or precursor regattas scheduled for Spain in June, northern Europe in August and in Italy in October.
'We are working to a very tight building deadline and literally don't have a day to spare,' said Evans adding that the build team is already working on 12 hour shifts to ensure their goals are met.
Captain Salvatore SARNO, the driving force behind South Africa's debut challenge for the America's Cup in 2007 says that while any nation can enter the America's Cup it is only the most technologically advanced countries in the world that can effectively do so: 'In South Africa's case it presents us with the perfect opportunity to be showcased as a modern, dynamic, exciting country with the skills and technological expertise equal to the best in the world.'