Swedish challenger 1st to use AC72 wing sail

BERNIE WILSON AP Sports Writer Published:

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- A Swedish challenger for the America's Cup is the first syndicate to test a radical wing sail that will be used in next year's competition on San Francisco Bay.

Artemis Challenge said it sailed a trimaran with an AC72 wing Thursday in Valencia, Spain. The 131-foot (40-meter) wing is as tall as a 13-story building. Made predominantly of carbon fiber and looking like an airplane wing, it weighs just more than one ton.

The wing sail will be the primary feature of the 72-foot catamarans that will be used in the Louis Vuitton Cup for challengers and the America's Cup match in 2013. In the buildup to 2013, teams are competing in the America's Cup World Series in 45-foot cats.

America's Cup defender Oracle Racing of San Francisco used a 223-foot wing sail on its giant trimaran to defeat Alinghi of Switzerland in the 2010 America's Cup in Valencia. The wing dramatically improved the boat's acceleration and maneuverability

While Oracle Racing and the other challengers have been testing elements for the AC72 catamarans using smaller boats, Artemis decided to build a full-size wing from the start.

"We chose the full scale strategy," said Artemis CEO Paul Cayard. "Our decision was more time-consuming, but it allows us to learn how to handle this powerful wing. Before performance, there is the safety of our team. San Francisco Bay in July and August is an unforgiving place."

Cayard, who grew up in San Francisco, is a veteran of the America's Cup, round-the-world racing and the Olympics.

Artemis said it took 35,000 man-hours to build the wing.

"It was a team effort," principal designer Juan Kouyoumdjian said. "It was amazing to see the wing out on the water. It looks great, but at the same time threatening. We will be going through a series of structural tests in the next few days."