2013 America's Cup

Date: 2013-09-25 11:23

I don't really follow sailing at all, but this post led me to look into the technology involved in the 2013 America's Cup.

For a bit of back story, the America's Cup is the oldest international sporting trophy, datin g back to 1851. The term "America's Cup" refers both to the series of match races and the physical cup itself. (If you want to be really swanky, you can call the cup the "Auld Mug".) It's named after the America, the first boat to win the cup. Since then, the yacht club that holds the cup is the "defender" and any club that tries to win it away from them is called the "challenger".

Back to the technology. The boats are hydrofoil catamarans (great photos here) called AC72s. They're 72 feet long, 131 feet tall, and carry a crew of 11. They have two cameras mounted on the back airfoil which give some neat views during the races. They routinely get up to 40 knots (~46mph for you landlovers). That's 40 knots powered by nothing but mother nature's sweet breath. These things are amazing.

Apart from the boats, the infrastructure involved in publicizing the event is impressive as well. There's an API with live-streaming race data. You can see the effects of this API on your phone or on TV

The 34th America's Cup is going on in San Francisco right now, and it's defender Oracle Team USA vs the challenger, Emirates Team New Zealand. They're politely referred to as "Kiwis" throughout the Wikipedia article.

The US team was penalized for cheating ('Murica!) earlier in the season, so they need to win 11 races to keep the trophy, while the New Zealanders only need to win 9. The Americans are giving the Kiwis a hardy run for their money, having been down by as many as 6 wins earlier in the cup. As of right now, both teams are one race away from winning (that's 10-to-8 for you folks playing along at home.), so it all comes down to the race this afternoon. . If you want a play-by-play, you can read some race synopses on the Wikipedia page that are chockablock with boating terms.

You can watch all the races on the America's Cup Youtube channel.

UPDATE: Oracle Team USA wins in race 19. (race video)

Oracle AC72: Image Guilain GRENIER / ORACLE TEAM USA