Team New Zealand stole the show yesterday on a day supposed to be for the challengers to show their colours - We have a short look in Words and Pictures at the innovative approach of the Kiwis.
The three remaining teams in the America's Cup regatta - challengers Alinghi Team and Oracle BMW Racing and defender Team New Zealand - showed three different ways to achieve maximum boatspeed.
First and foremost seemed to be the universal thought that, in creating their "Hula"
, Team New Zealand had moved America's Cup design the furthest forward in decades. One of TNZ's designers, Clay Oliver explained:
"The idea starts with the fact that you want to draw a boat that is long, elegant and fast. One of the things you keep running into with this rule is that to drop the transom you have cut away some volume in the afterbodies.
"So if you want a nice low transom, how do you keep the desired distribution of volume that's under the water? And that's really a solution to that. In a way, it's an integrated part on the seamless part of the hull that allows you to have the low transom and sectional curve that you want.
"There are some penalties associated with it as well. There's a gap so there's extra friction drag and there's a little weight you have to give up because it's going to be a little heavier because it's a rigid structure."
Questions have already been raised to the jury by Alinghi regarding the legality of the structure, ahead of the cut off time for measurement protests and the issue revolves around the fact that they believe that the second skin's few millimetre gap from the hull, is not enough to guarantee that it will not touch the hull when the boat is loaded.
But the Hula is not the only refinement to the America's Cup design from Team New Zealand, there also appeared some radical Keel Bulb thinking.
Team New Zealand's NZL-82 (bottom picture, foreground) was fitted with one of the longest bulbs ever seen on an ACC sloop on a quite deep fin. NZL-81 (background) had a more conventional look to it. The winglets on NZL-82 were mounted close to the bottom of the bulb and extended nearly all the way to maximum beam, the widest permissible winglet measurement.
"One of our bulbs is very long and, for the same weight, it's a lot smaller in height so the centre of gravity is a lot lower," said Team New Zealand designer Mike Drummond. "That gives us more stability. But that comes at a price of extra wetted surface area. It's an extra drag item in light airs, but the stability helps us any time we're heeled over."
This design feature, along with some other refinements and innovations by the TNZ designers, are beginning to be thought of as inspirational, Team Dennis Conner's Bill Trenkle went as far as to say that he thinks the features could make the boat a silver bullet, one that could bring the world's sailing elite back to Auckland for America's Cup XXXII.