And still getting warmed up , in the flat water reach off Anacortes , in Puget Sound :"This trimaran is the only one of its kind. She is fairly extreme and has enormous potential. We're gradually taming her". says French sailor Franck Cammas, Designated as helmsman by Russell Coutts, the America's Cup skipper during these initial outings, the skipper of the smaller but equally formidable multihulls of the Groupama design series has been collaborating with the American Team as a coach and consultant for over a year.
On the water, this trimaran 's 50 meter high, 500 m2 mainsail drives the the boat hard enough to fly two hulls in under 10 knots wind-- but this is no Hobie-- it is ninety feet wide , and the canting carbon fiber wing mast can also carry a 700 M2 genniker. The result is all the power of a J-boat warped into propelling less than 10% of the mass. At two-thirds her size, and a quarter her sail plan, the 1988 catamaran Cup defender, Stars & Stripes was pretty hairy to sail even in the mild conditions prevailing off San Diego.
Only this beast of a boat's enormous beam and phenomenally stiff construction allow her to face open water , yet though pride goeth before a fall, she may see close to forty knots beforehand. Lord knows what the Swiss defense will counter with if the New York court ruling on her legality under the AC Deed of Gift's " ... shall meet with a like boat any challenge by a vessel less than 90 feet on the waterline" clause tells Geneva to quit litigating , and get on the water to let God and the racing rules sort it out. I hope it doesn't come to this :