The first of two new designs for the 34th America’s Cup, the AC45 Catamaran made its debut in Auckland on January 17, hitting speeds in excess of 20 knots. The AC45 will be used throughout 2011 and 2012 in the America’s Cup World Series events.
A high-tech, 45-foot long grand prix race boat, the AC45 is powered by a sail that towers over 20 meters above the deck and has already demonstrated excellent performance in winds from 5 to 30 knots in early sea trials. The AC45 is meant to give sailors and shore crews experience handling this sort of high-tech cat, and to permit multihull racing to begin this year. Teams may modify the rigs and appendages for testing, though not the hulls. During racing, however, the AC45's must remain in their one-design configuration.