BMW ORACLE Racing CEO and skipper Chris DICKSON (NZL) was at the helm for the maiden voyage of USA 98. 'In a four-year campaign, it is only twice that the team has the thrill of taking a new yacht on its shakedown sail,' DICKSON said. 'Certainly this day is a milestone in our programme as we enter race mode and the final stretch to the Louis Vuitton Cup.'
USA 98's first sail consisted of structural and technical tests on the Hauraki Gulf in Auckland. The team will first confirm the structural soundness of the new boat before race training begins. 'The report card comes when we sail with the boat fully-loaded in race mode but for sailing right out of the box, 98 feels pretty special,' DICKSON said. 'We will start putting USA 98 through the paces later this week.'
Like USA 87, the team's first 2007-generation America's Cup Class yacht, USA 98 is the product of the BMW ORACLE Racing Design and Build teams. BMW engineers are integrated into the 38 person international design team, bringing expertise in structural engineering and load analysis from the German premium car manufacturer.
Both USA 87 and USA 98 represent collaboration between two of the world's leading yacht designers - Bruce FARR and Juan KOUYOUMDJIAN. 'Bruce FARR and Juan K are a formidable team - both in the diverse experience and strengths they bring to the programme as well as the professional working relationship they have forged over the course of this campaign,' said Ian BURNS, BMW ORACLE Racing Design Coordinator. 'They have a great mutual respect for each other's work and their individual styles have brought the best out of the design team. Bruce and Juan worked closely together on both boats in a very similar process, bringing an interesting perspective to the design approach.'
The design team's strategy called for each boat to have its own special strengths and distinct features rather than building two identical boats. 'We incorporated all we learned from the innovative platform of 87,' BURNS said.
The USA 98 design was brought to life by the 25 person team of boat building experts led by boat construction managers Mark TURNER, Tim SMYTH and Mark SOMERVILLE. The carbon fibre composite hull of USA 98 was from a different mould than USA 87 which was also built at the team's custom facility in Anacortes, WA, USA. BMW ORACLE Racing can elect to race either of their two latest generation race boats in the 2007 Louis Vuitton Cup and there is also an option to substitute boats in between racing rounds. The Louis Vuitton Cup starts in 90 days.
The America's Cup Match and Challenger/Defender Series are designated as ISAF Special Events. For more information on the America's Cup, the Louis Vuttion Acts and the teams competing, visit the official America's Cup website - www.americascup.com.For a complete list of all the news about the America's Cup 2007 CLICK HERE.