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12/21/2009 | 1 MINUTE READ

BMW ORACLE composite wing speeds America's Cup challenger

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Reports indicate that the America's Cup challenger is 20 percent faster with its 50m fixed-wing carbon fiber sail; race will be held in February 2010 off the coast of Valencia, Spain.


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News agency AFP reports that the America's Cup trimaran challenger from BMW ORACLE Racing (San Diego, Calif., USA) is now 20 percent faster with its new carbon fiber composite fixed-wing sail than when the boat was launched more than a year ago. The U.S. team first tested the 50m/164-ft carbon fiber sail in November at its base in San Diego, ahead of the America's Cup sailing competition in February 2010 against defending champion Alinghi (Geneva, Switzerland).

The wing sail consists of two main components: the main element and the flap element. The main element is one single piece that rotates around the mast step. Eight individual flaps rotate around the trailing edge of the main element. Both elements are separated by a small gap and linked together by nine main hinges. The wing is primarily constructed from carbon fibre and kevlar. BMW ORACLE Racing says manufacture of the wing-sail took 40,000 man-hours to complete.

The location and format of the 33rd America's Cup has been in doubt for more than two years following a lawsuit by Golden Gate Yacht Club, owner of the BMW ORACLE, challenging defending champion Alinghi's right to choose the location of the next race. Alinghi's choice was the Persian Gulf, while the BMW ORACLE team favored Valencia, Spain. A New York judge ruled on Dec. 15 that the race should be held in Valencia using a three-race format, instead of the traditional seven-race format.

Reports from various news organizations indicate that the two teams are now negotiating a seven race format, with a possible start date of Feb. 12. Unpredictable winds in and around in Valencia in February could be a factor in the dates of the races.