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BMW Trimaran Sails with the new mast

November 11th, 2009

Well – they got it away!  Sailing with a wing instead of more traditional mast and sail, the BMW trimaran tested their new wing today.  The sheer scale of this should not be under-estimated.  It is bigger than a 747 Wing, and I guess they have to take it down when not sailing since the boat would take off on its own if the wind came!

BMW Oracle maiden sail with new Wing

BMW Oracle maiden sail with new Wing

From the BMW Oracle website:

The American Challenger of Record for the 33rd America’s Cup left the dock with its giant wing sail attached for the first time, marking a major milestone in the campaign.

The wing was first unveiled on Sunday evening, when the tent where it had been assembled was opened up. After a day of load testing, in the early hours of Tuesday morning it was attached to the BOR 90 trimaran for the very first time.

“This is just an amazing moment,” said James Spithill, the helmsman for the team. “As sailors, we’re just very excited to try this out. We can’t thank the guys on the build and shore teams enough as they’ve put in a massive effort to get this ready for us.”

A wing of this scale has never been built for a boat. In terms of size, the wing on the BOR 90 dwarfs those on modern aircraft. Towering nearly 190 ft (57 m) above the deck, it is 80 percent bigger than a wing on a 747 airplane (102 ft / 31 m).

Getting the BOR 90 off the dock with the wing was a major mission in itself. The wing needed to be attached to the boat in near calm conditions, before Spithill carefully maneuvered away from the dock with the wing down, in a horizontal position, assisted by numerous RIBs.

Hoist the mainsail!

Hoist the mainsail!

The first several testing sessions will consist of gently working up the loads on the boat and wing as the sailors become familiar with the new system.

Full-scale testing of the cutting-edge rig will continue over the coming weeks as the team prepares to face Alinghi in the America’s Cup Match in February 2010.

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