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30 January 2009, 04:45 pm
AC33: The New America's Cup Yacht Design Rule Goes Live
An artist's impression of an ACC V 5.0 yacht (left) compared to an AC33 yacht at similar scale
An artist's impression of an ACC V 5.0 yacht (left) compared to an AC33 yacht at similar scale

33rd America's Cup

Alinghi, Defender of the 33rd America's Cup, has published the new AC33 America's Cup yacht design rule.
The AC33 has been designed through consultation between the Defender, the Challenger of Record and the 17 other entered teams and the process was headed by Tom SCHNACKENBERG as the class rule and competition regulations consultant for AC Management. Designers and team managers from the 19 America's Cup syndicates met regularly in Geneva, Switzerland, and Valencia, Spain, since the design process began in early November 2008.

This group agreed to develop a boat similar in cost to the America's Cup Class Version 5.0 boat, but with a more exciting performance. The AC33 Rule evolved to a race yacht of 26m maximum length overall, with 5m of draft and a displacement of 17.5tonnes.

The adoption of the new rule is dependant on the legal case brought by the Golden Gate Yacht Club (GGYC) against the Club Náutico Español de Vela (CNV), which is set to be heard in New York on 10 February 2009, with a decision likely within one to two months. If the GGYC win their appeal, a best-of-three match between Alinghi and BMW in giant multihulls, governed by rules in the Deed of Gift, is likely to decide the 33rd America's Cup. If the CNV win, the Cup will go on with the new rule.

The New AC33 Rule

The sail plan area is greater than with the ACC Version 5.0 but without overlapping headsails, and as with the AC90 Rule contemplated in 2007, the boat has a bowsprit and the spinnaker area is limited only by sheeting constraints, not by measurement of dimensions. Given the lighter displacement, the AC33 will be more demanding to sail upwind, and will provide sparkling performance on the runs. Maximum beam is 4.8m, which will seem wide to people used to the appearance of the Version 5.0 yachts, where the last generation of yachts had a beam not much more than 3m in many cases.

Tom SCHNACKENBERG, class rule and competition regulations consultant for ACM, commented on how the process worked and what to expect of the new class, "We have had a very active 10 weeks pursuing this new AC33 Class Rule. The process was very similar to that of the initial AC90, and we deliberately used many of the clauses already developed for it 12 months ago. Because of our previous experience, this process seemed familiar and ran smoothly, in spite of the interruption caused by the Christmas holidays.

"The boat was originally suggested as one with overhangs, and girth restrictions, [a sort of mini J-class] but as different designers got into the act, it quickly evolved into a boat defined only by the length overall, weight, max beam and draft. This allows simple measurement processes for the hull itself, and each change seemed to make the boat go faster!

"As it turned out, the boat is slightly longer than the ACC Version 5.0 boats and several tonnes lighter, with similar sail area and righting moment. It promises to have similar upwind speed and to have sparkling downwind performance.

"We think it will be a boat which the America's Cup community will really enjoy; a worthy successor to all the wonderful boats that have gone before."


Rolf VROLIJK, Alinghi's principal designer, added his views on the new class, "For designers it is always more exciting to be involved in a new class or with a new type of boat than the highly evolved existing class where we can only focus on very detailed optimisation. It is quite challenging because it means starting from zero and this is a class like nothing we have seen before so if you do your homework right, you would be competitive. Some teams might be very competitive in some corners of the rule, so that will be very interesting."

You can read the AC33 Rule in full here.

Click here for all the news on the 33rd America's Cup

Daphne Morgan Barnicoat (As Amended By ISAF)
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