America's Cup: Trials quite a sight to behold


There is definitely a 'wow' factor to the giant trimaran BMW Oracle, which began sailing off San Diego this past week in anticipation of a possible court-ordered one-on-one America's Cup match with Alinghi.

In fact, after viewing the boat and talking to helmsman James Spithill, it would be sad if the trimaran – which is 90 feet on the waterline with a 90-foot beam – never saw action in a race.

'While it is our desire to go back to a conventional America's Cup, it would be a huge shame to not see this boat in some type of competition,' said Spithill on Saturday afternoon after returning from the boat's fourth – and most challenging – sail out of its temporary San Diego Harbor base.

With seas running almost 10 feet with an opposing wind chop, the BMW Oracle crew got the conditions they had hoped for when they decided to come to San Diego.

Only, it was sooner than expected.

'The perfect scenario would have been to go from one-meter to two-meter to three-meter seas,' Spithill said. 'We skipped one and two and went straight to three.

'We anticipated the sea conditions. What surprised us today was the wind (14-15 knots top). We got more wind than expected. The loads on the boat shot up a lot. We tried all the systems under dynamic loading.


'This was the first time the boat has really been tested. Even so, we were very cautious. The boat is designed to twist a lot. The loads on the boat are incredible.'

So are the sounds.

The slapping of an outrigger across a wave resonates through the carbon-fiber hull like a small explosion.

'There are a lot of loud noises on any carbon-fiber racing boat,' Spithill said. 'Because of the size, everything is magnified.'

Ah, the size.

The overall length of the boat is more than 100 feet, with the waterline length being 90 feet.

The raked mast thrusts 158 feet into the sky – it can easily be seen above the Convention Center from its berth adjacent to Joe's Crab Shack on South Embarcadero Park – with the mainsail being twice the size of an International America's Cup Class monohull.

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