The revolutionary AC40 foiling yacht, designed by Emirates Team New Zealand, is now available to private owners and syndicates to compete in a new AC40 Grand Prix circuit.
With speeds well over three times the wind speed and top speeds in excess of 50 knots, the yachts are incredibly exciting to sail. Thanks to a supplied electronics package and automated control system, they are also accessible to sailors who may not have an Olympic medal to their name.
The AC40 was conceived by Emirates Team New Zealand as a strict one-design 40ft version of the AC75 yachts in the 36th America’s Cup. Leading up to the 37th America’s Cup, the new class of AC40s will see huge exposure in 2023, being raced by AC teams in preliminary regattas in Vilanova and Jeddah. In 2024, the Youth and Women’s America’s Cup in Barcelona will also be raced in AC40s, with 12 international teams committed to both events.
With nine AC40s already launched and three more currently in production, the AC40’s exclusive builder McConaghy Boats has a strong mandate from private owners and syndicates to create a new grand prix circuit for the AC40 class.
After successfully defending the Cup, Emirates Team New Zealand took everything they had developed for their winning yacht ‘Te Rehutai’ and packaged it into a smaller platform to be sailed by four crew: two drivers and two trimmers.
The windward crew steer the yacht and trim the main, whilst the leeward pair trim the jib, fine-tune the altitude and pitch control, and call tactics. Swapping roles (but not seats) on every tack and gybe rewards coordinated crew work. All sail and foil controls are driven by hydraulic systems powered by onboard batteries, so it is brains not brawn that is needed on these yachts.
The AC40 is a tightly controlled one-design class, with no changes permitted between the yachts, and identical sails throughout the fleet. Stringent measurement, calibration and one-design compliance checks are in place to ensure fairness. The onboard control software, foiling autopilot and instrumentation is also supplied and controlled, ensuring that racing is entirely in the hands of the crew. Upgrades will be controlled by Emirates Team New Zealand and McConaghy Boats as the technical suppliers, with a shared services boatyard providing support to the private fleet.
The Class is administered by an AC40 Management Group comprising Emirates Team New Zealand, McConaghy Boats and Ancasta International Boat Sales – with Luca Rizzotti appointed as the Class Manager. The Group is responsible for:
- The Events calendar
- The one-design specification, including autopilot development
- Sponsorship opportunities
- Class rules & administration
- Class representation
The AC40 Management Group is focused on establishing a class of privately owned AC40s to add to the existing yachts built for the America’s cup. The fleet of privately owned and skippered AC40s will participate in both circuits and championship racing, providing an extraordinary experience for the lucky few who have the means and ambition to participate in the most exciting form of sailing around.
The commitment to record and share performance data between teams is seen as a key element in ensuring long-term competitiveness within the class, and will be offered to all new teams to the circuit. No crew will therefore have a knowledge advantage over another: true one-design racing.
The AC40 Management Group is establishing a Mediterranean training base where the AC40 fleet will be based, providing a focal point for the class. Training sessions will be provided at the base throughout the pre-season, to include boat handling, performance training, safety skills and practice in an AC40 simulator to obtain an AC40 Class Licence.
Logistics were a key factor in the overall design of the AC40. The entire yacht including hull, mast, and appendages pack down on to a supplied 40-foot flat rack for ease of transport on container ships or trucks. The yacht can be unpacked and afloat in 48 hours, requiring a minimal support team. With only four crew and a slim sail wardrobe, operating costs are surprisingly low.
A centralised technical support service is available through the class subscription, which will also provide access to a collective inventory of spares.