Fueled by advances in boat design and all the data expertise you'd expect in an Oracle-sponsored project, Team USA looks to gain a high-tech advantage as it defends its America's Cup championship.
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Oracle Team USA sailed to victory in 2010 in the USA17, a racing yacht even more massive than the AC72 currently under construction. With a three-hulled design, the USA17 was a trimaran, in contrast to the two-hulled catamarans currently used.
The USA17's audacious scale was enabled due to a rule dispute among the teams contending for the 2010 title. Without a consensus on design or spending limitations, the 33rd America's Cup defaulted to a single limitation: the water-touching portion of each vessel could not exceed 90 feet. Oracle sailor Shannon Falcone, a veteran of four America's Cups who has been sailing professionally since he was 19, said that when he initially began competing, "Technology-wise, build-wise, we were pushing the limits of what the rules would allow us to do ... It was a little dated."
The rule change, he remarked, was "pure carte blanche for the designers and technology. You saw what the fastest boats could be [because] the designers had an absolute field day." The 90-foot by 90-foot framework of hulls supported a wing sail so large that Godzilla, had he emerged from the depths during a race, could easily have hidden behind it; at 223 feet tall, it remains the largest ever built, according to the Oracle Team USA website.
The USA17 also included sensor technology much like what's found in the current AC45 and what's planned for the AC72. Wi-Fi connectivity issues, however, caused headaches during the 2010 competition--a problem that the Ruckus collaboration has so far addressed.
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