Bringing the Cup home after 166 years, for some time now this has been the sporting “obsession” of Sir “Big” Ben Ainslie, the world’s most titled sailor with victory in his DNA. A small but important step toward the realization of this British dream has been taken in the waters of Bermuda: Land Rover BAR Racing has in fact launched its AC 50, named Rita, with which the sailing team will immediately begin its first official speed tests.
Why Rita? The anecdote dates back to 1992, on the occasion of the Optimist World Championship in Tenerife. The then 15-year-old Ben had gone to the regattas accompanied by his mother who, while the young sailor was training on the water, decided to pay a visit to the local St. Rita Church. Upon his return, his mother sewed a small effigy of the saint on the jacket of the future “Big” Ben: the regatta went well and Ainslie decided to rechristen Rita his Optimist and so the following boats, to this day.
UP TO 50 KNOTS OF SPEED?
The new 50′ will differ little from the AC45 Turbos seen sailing in recent months. In fact, these flying cats will be almost exclusively one design, the only components where design teams will have leeway will be the appendages and hydraulic circuits. Instead, the platform, wing, headsails and all other elements of the catamaran will be standardized. The only elements whose construction will have to be done in the team’s home country will be the bows. If the performance seen in test races with the AC45s in recent weeks is further enhanced, the new AC 50s could touch 50 knots of speed in full foiling: whether match racing and “old style” cup purists like it or not, it will be something exceptional.
In the circling phases seen between Artemis and Oracle (see above), the two teams force engagements in a “frightening” manner: if this were the case, one of the great criticisms levelled at the current America’s Cup, namely racing with little contact, would be torn to shreds by close encounters at over 40 knots of speed. Is it the sail of the future or just “space” madness by multibillionaires?
We will have the answer to this question from May 26 to June 27.
AC 50 DATA SHEET
Length: 15 mt
Maximum beam: 8.48 mt
Wing height: 23.5 mt
Sail area: 103 square meters
Maximum crew weight: 525 kg
Estimated top speed: 48 knots
Hydraulic circuit length: 130 mt
Total length of shipboard tops: 67 mt
On-board electrical circuit length: 1,200 mt