ALAMEDA (KPIX 5) – Half a dozen countries now are using what looks like the old America’s Cup boats but, they are not. They are new and part of Generation 2, and they are much faster.
Monday morning, Team USA lowered the latest edition of their Grand Prix racing sailboat into the Alameda Channel and towed it out for testing. It’s part computer, part airplane, and part boat.
Christy Cahill is Sail GP Director of Communications.
“For the first time in sailing competition to go over fifty knots, which is 60 mph … Yes, that’s highway speeds, with no window” says Cahill.
Monday, they are testing systems for the upcoming race next month here in San Francisco.
Even in a high powered chase boat, we could barely keep up and it’s not the only one. There are five more countries with identical boats: France, Australia, Great Britain, China and Japan.
“These boats just don’t sit in the water, they fly over the water,” explains Cahill. “So in some ways it’s a combination of Formula One racing and a fighter jet out there racing on the water.”
In order to keep everything the same, all boats must share all their racing data with each other. Any technical advantage must be shared too.
The work is done, mostly, in a common area where everyone can watch each other. The boats are not the only things being built. Teams are still pretty fresh to each other too.
USA Skipper, Rome Kirby says his team has a lot of experience, just not together.
“None of us have been sailing together apart from Sydney so the last event was our first time sailing together as a group,” says Kirby. He’s still molding and getting the group together.
The boats are slightly smaller than America’s Cup boats and allegedly cheaper to race, but they are 30% faster.
The first America’s Cup race is scheduled for May 4.