AC75 take two

In 2021, Rebecca Hayter wrote that navigating the aftermath of the 36th America’s Cup was like being overtaken by Superman – the dust was still settling, the kryptonite was still crackling, and everyone was left wondering what just happened.

Written by Rebecca Hayter
Photography by Studio Borlenghi

02 March 2024


The AC75, the world’s first large foiling monohull, had just delivered the most closely contested America’s Cup in over 40 years – and it had more fuel to burn.

And so, to Barcelona, October 2024. AC75, take two. The 37th America’s Cup will take the AC75, version 2 into new territory of what a foiling monohull can do. It has attracted five Challengers, four of whom have a titanium-strength conviction they will win.

They say the fastest boat takes home the America’s Cup, but fast has a new definition. By October 2024, straight-line speed and the ability to execute tacks and gybes on foils 98 percent of the time will be old news.

The ammo that will win the 37th America’s Cup will be the moves that seemingly defy physics – the ability to arise from splashdown in ultra-light airs, the dial-downs that lead the opposition into an invisible wall of dead air, the ability to deploy high mode in a heartbeat and to survive foil-to-foil combat while inflicting a penalty.

Of course, for the team on the wrong side of such scenarios, boat-speed advantage will be useful.


Each team may build only one AC75. That means hull design matters, a lot. But ultimately, the hull is the hardware that holds together the pieces that make it go fast while presenting the least resistance. It’s the attachments to the hull that matter most – canting foils, rudder and wings, sails and sail-management systems, mechatronics and onboard power systems.

The most important attachments are still the helmspeople and crew who manipulate the technology in a series of infinitesimal adjustments, choreographed by artificial intelligence in the simulators. Which is why all teams are placing major emphasis on technical expertise – the best in naval architects, CFD (computational fluid dynamics) technicians, aero engineers, simulation specialists, artificial-intelligence resources and sail designers.

On the build-up to the America’s Cup, we’ll see the evolution of innovative foil, sail control and power transfer initiatives – especially with the cyclors back on board to compensate for smaller crew numbers.

INEOS UK and Alinghi – who have exceptionally deep pockets – have partnered with complementary sports engineering functions such as Mercedes F1 Applied Science and Formula 1 Red Bull Advanced Technologies, respectively.

Bertarelli has fused youth with experience. American Magic designers Marcelino Botin and Adolfo Carrau join star-veteran Brad Butterworth. Alinghi has also hired Dean Barker and former Luna Rossa sailor Pietro Sibello for driving lessons in their version 1 AC75 BoatZero, and was the first team to set up base in Barcelona in 2022.

Don’t underestimate Bertarelli. Alinghi has been building foiling experience in the TF35 and GC32 catamaran classes. Like INEOS, Alinghi has heaps of Formula 1-style firepower with Red Bull Advanced Technologies.


The boats


A 40-foot foiling monohull that can hit the high 40s, the AC40 was introduced to bring youth and women into grand-prix foiling.

The identical AC40 hulls were built by McConaghy Boats, and the foils and systems were created by ETNZ and delivered in order of entry to the America’s Cup. Teams have to buy at least one AC40 and no more than two. At the World Sailing Awards in Malaga, the AC40 was announced 2023 Boat of the Year as a boat that is changing the face of sailing.

The AC40 has self-tacking headsails and an autopilot control system that maintains stable flight. It utilises advanced hydraulics, electric assistance, and onboard electronic systems control features such as foil arms, sail control and flight stability.

The AC40 has three jobs:

    1. as a strict one design for the first two preliminary regattas in Vilanova i La Geltrú, Catalonia, Spain, 14 to 17 September 2023, and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, 29 November to 2 December 2023 – these were fleet races
      with a match-race final of the two leaders.
    2. as a strict one design for the Youth America’s Cup and the Puig Women’s America’s Cup in Barcelona 2024.
    3. as a test boat, teams can use the AC40 to develop foils, sails, electronics and foiling techniques that can be adapted for their AC75. As soon as an AC40 is modified, it becomes an LEQ12 (less than or equal to 12 metres). LEQ12s will be a vital link to the AC75 version 2.

AC40: hull (11.3 metres); mast (18 metres); weight (2 tonnes); crew (4 sailors); top speed (45+ knots).



Teams can build one LEQ12 for testing and training. INEOS Britannia and Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli have built dedicated LEQ12s and loaded them with sensors, cameras and measuring devices so the design teams can collate data and calibrate their design software in a real-world environment. These may or may not prove to be mini-me versions of their AC75.


AC75, version 1

The AC75s from 2021 can be used for training, within strict rules including the number of foil wings, flaps, rudders, foil arms, masts, hull surfaces and sails. In other words, a syndicate can’t modify an AC75 version 1 until it look like an AC75 version 2.

American Magic is using Patriot. Alinghi Red Bull Racing is using BoatZero, which it purchased as Te Aihe from ETNZ.


The AC75, version 2

The new AC75 will debut at the third preliminary regatta in August 2024 in Barcelona, sail in the Louis Vuitton Challengers Series and the America’s Cup. AC75 version 2 is a significant evolution from 2021.

It will be lighter with larger foils to promote quicker lift and faster flight. It will have eight crew instead of 11 to save weight. Onboard electronics, hydraulics and software systems will be vastly upgraded to reflect industry changes. Elements such as the mast, rigging, foil cant arms and cant hydraulics will be strict one design, but there’s broad scope for design elsewhere, including in hull shape, sail design and flight control.

AC75 version 2: hull (20.7 metres); mast (26.5 metres); weight (6.5 tonnes); crew (8 sailors); top speed (50+ knots).

The challengers

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli, representing Circolo della Vela Sicilia Yacht Club, Italy

Luna Rossa introduced dual helmsmen in 2021, a formula adopted by all teams this time. The dream team of Australia’s warrior prince Jimmy Spithill (44) and Francesco Bruni (50) is back. Both are known for their street-fighter instincts. Team training is rotating Spithill and Bruni with Olympic gold medallist Ruggero Tita, who is campaigning in the foiling Nacra 17 at the Paris Olympic
Games 2024.

The Italian LEQ12 prototype, crazy-painted like court-jester pantaloons, is of a similar style to Emirates Team New Zealand’s winning AC75 of 2021.

Throughout the winter training of 2022/2023, the team upgraded foils and sail control systems and displayed consistent flight time and foil-to-foil manoeuvres. The Italians have immense depth of America’s Cup experience and leadership. Team director Max Sirena sailed with Luna Rossa on their 2000, 2003 and 2007 challenges, won the America’s Cup with Oracle Team USA in 2010 and was part of ETNZ’s management in 2017. Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli has been up against the best in ETNZ in 2021.


INEOS Britannia, representing the Royal Yacht Squadron, UK

INEOS Britannia is one of the largest organisations in the 37th America’s Cup. Sir Ben Ainslie, four-time Olympic gold medallist and with Oracle Team USA in 2013, is both CEO and skipper.

On his third attempt for Britain, Ainslie will share the helm with long-time bromance Giles Scott MBE – double Olympic gold medallist in the Finn Class. They have retained most of the sailing team from 2021.

INEOS bristles with Formula-I technology, including the chief technical officer of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team to pursue high-performance engineering. Martin Fischer, veteran of two Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli’s campaigns, is leading the design. The British LEQ12, named T6, is an extreme design to give a baseline to the design team.

With live data links back to the Mercedes Applied Science team in Northamptonshire, this is a campaign rooted in considerable resources. Managing that flow of information will be crucial.


American Magic, Representing New York Yacht Club, USA

American Magic has scored Australian helmsman Tom Slingsby. With a perennial smile, he’s a foiling genius, an International Moth World Champion and was Yachtsman of the Year 2021. Slingsby’s helm-mate is Paul Goodison, gold medallist and former International Moth World Champion.

Based in Florida, American Magic has been training in the heavily modified Patriot, was the first team to introduce cyclors for 2024, and is refining systems and power delivery at full scale in its AC75.

Terry Hutchinson, a strong leader and a witty media darling, continues as President of Sailing Operations. American Magic has recruited powerful athletes from the track cycling and rowing worlds alongside grinders from the 36th America’s Cup. In 2020, American Magic was the only challenger to beat Team New Zealand in the preliminary regatta, but never found another win.

American Magic won the first preliminary regatta at Vilanova in September 2023 – a repeat of last time or is it a sign of wins to come?


Alinghi Red Bull Racing, representing Société Nautique de Genève, Switzerland

Alinghi is back. Those of us who remember 2003 and 2007 are quaking in our stilettos. The team is led by Ernesto Bertarelli, two-time winner of the America’s Cup who executed the Cup’s most famous recruitment drive when he raided Team New Zealand after 2000. He excels in putting together elite squads and has brought in plenty of young Swiss sailing talent – youth is an asset on hypo-techno boats and good for longevity.

Bertarelli has fused youth with experience. American Magic designers Marcelino Botin and Adolfo Carrau join star-veteran Brad Butterworth. Alinghi has also hired Dean Barker and former Luna Rossa sailor Pietro Sibello for driving lessons in their version 1 AC75 BoatZero, and was the first team to set
up base in Barcelona in 2022.

Don’t underestimate Bertarelli. Alinghi has been building foiling experience in the TF35 and GC32 catamaran classes. Like INEOS, Alinghi has heaps of Formula 1-style firepower with Red Bull Advanced Technologies.


Orient Express Racing Team, representing Société Nautique Saint-Tropez, France

This team was last to enter and guaranteed to generate headlines that channel Agatha Christie. I’m thinking Mayhem on the Orient Express or even, in the women’s regatta, Mesdames on the Orient Express.

This is yet another youthful team. Includes co-skippers Quentin Delapierre and Kevin Peponnet, who both selected each other, with veterans including Bruno Dubois and Franck Cammas.

France is back in the America’s Cup after a long break. It received a latest-generation technology package on the design process from Emirates Team New Zealand and has immense depth of high-tech foiling knowledge in French boatbuilding.

The team has shown a deep commitment to sailing technique with highly technical foil designs alongside sail development and systems control packages.

After just 15 days sailing the AC40, they won the first race of the preliminary regatta in September 2023 and finished third overall.

The Defender

Emirates Team New Zealand, representing the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, New Zealand

What a depth of experience – 11 campaigns and four wins since 1987, the only non-US country to twice win and defend the America’s Cup, the instigator of the foiling catamarans and foiling monohulls in the America’s Cup.

Pete Burling (32) is the winning helmsman from 2017 and 2021, an Olympic gold and silver medallist. His co-helmsman will be Australia’s lovable, talented skipper, Nathan Outteridge, an Olympic gold medallist, and also America’s Cup television commentator in 2021.

Emirates Team New Zealand will field the strongest line-up of sailors across the America’s Cup. The Kiwis bought the first AC40 in September 2022 and immediately made changes to the cockpit configuration, electronics, foils and systems controls to trial for their AC75.

They retained their second AC40 in race configuration and were the first team to complete a day of testing with 100 percent foil-to-foil manoeuvres across tacks and gybes in December 2022.


So, how’s it looking?

It’s fair to say the preliminary regattas are not crystal balls for the America’s Cup, but just for the record, we offer the following:

First preliminary regatta, Vilanova, September 2023

NYYC American Magic // 34
Emirates Team New Zealand // 33
Orient Express Racing Team // 24
Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli // 20
Alinghi Red Bull Racing // 19
INEOS Britannia // 9

Second preliminary regatta, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, 29 NOvember to 2 December 2023

Emirates Team New Zealand // 64
Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli // 49
Alinghi Red Bull Racing // 35
NYYC American Magic // 28
INEOS Britannia // 26
Orient Express Racing Team // 20


37th America’s Cup Barcelona 2024

22 to 25 August 2024

Barcelona Opening Ceremony
Preliminary Regatta

29 August to 8 September

Louis Vuitton Cup Round Robins
Challenger Selection Series

14 to 19 September

Louis Vuitton Cup Semi-Finals
Challenger Selection Series

26 September to 5 October

Louis Vuitton Cup Finals
Challenger Selection Series

17 to 26 September

Youth America’s Cup

5 to 13 October

Puig Women’s America’s Cup

12 to 21 October

Louis Vuitton 37th America’s Cup Match



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