Louis Vuitton Cup and America’s Cup race course. San Francisco 2013
The America’s Cup race course is right on the San Francisco city front.
America’s Cup race course diagram.
There are two possible variations. Both start with a reaching leg at the western (Golden Gate) end of the course, which can be 0.25 to 1.0 nm long. Both end with another reaching leg, at the eastern (Pier 27-29 / AC Village) end of the course, which can 0.5 to 1.5 nm long. In between the starting reach leg and the finishing reach leg, there will be
- two downwind legs and one upwind leg giving a race approximately 30 minutes long, OR
- four downwind legs and three upwind legs giving a race approximately 60 minutes long
Variation 1 will be used for the America’s Cup Match and for the Louis Vuitton Cup finals.
Variation 2 will be used for the Louis Vuitton Cup round robin and semi-final.
What this means for for boat design and race tactics
If, like Emirates Team New Zealand, you designed your boat for foiling, you may have sacrificed upwind speed for more speed when reaching and downwind. So you need to build enough of a lead on the reaching and downwind legs so that a non-foiling competitor, perhaps Artemis, cannot beat you with better upwind speed. Given that both possible courses have one more downwind leg than upwind, you have an advantage.
As to tactics, the “transitions” will be crucial: how much speed do you lose in a tack or a gybe? If you are foiling, what is the crew choreography to gybe the boat, dropping the old windward daggerboard and getting up and foiling after the gybe? Remember: only 11 crew. One or two are needed to steer through the gybe, six may be on the handles grinding to provide power to trim the wing, furl and unfurl the gennaker and control the angle of attack of the daggerboards. You need one crew to lower the a daggerboard and one to raise the other. Somebody needs to handle the gennaker furler and somebody needs to trim the gennaker when it unfurls. If you think there is a lot to do and not enough crew, you are right!
Until the racing starts in July, we can only speculate about who has an advantage. One thing is sure: regardless of design decisions, teams will need to sail well and avoid crew errors in order to win!