Over the past decade, I’ve grown a massive interest in high-speed yacht racing and the America’s Cup. The wing-sailed foiling catamarans of the 2010s America’s Cup regattas captured my imagination. The flying carbon-fiber testbeds were eventually capable of reaching highway speeds with wind gusts moving half as fast.
However, the most common complaint in traditional sailing circles about this technological arms race was the growing disconnect between Cup competition and the average sailor. I’ve always found the complaints to be a bit ridiculous. It’s like disparaging Formula 1 because a modern Grand Prix car has almost nothing in common with the average crossover SUV.
Those complaints have now been answered. A scaled-down version of yachts currently used in America’s Cup competition will be publicly available for purchase at the completely affordable price point of $2 million.
The McConaghy Boats-built AC40 is a spec 38.7-foot version of the open-design AC75-class foiling monohull yachts. The AC75 will be the headlining class of the 37th America’s Cup, scheduled to take place in 2024 in Barcelona. The AC75s made their debut at the previous America’s Cup in 2021 and are slated to be used in the 38th America’s Cup.
Although, The spec AC40 will be the workhorse of the next America’s Cup cycle. The AC40s will be used by all the America’s Cup teams in preliminary racing events and modified by the teams to help develop their respective AC75 designs. In Barcelona, the junior spec class will also be raced in the 25-and-under Youth America’s Cup and the inaugural Women’s America’s Cup.
The AC40 is capable of reaching 50 miles per hour on the water in 23 mph winds. The yacht requires a crew of four sailors, two helms and two trimmers stationed in the pair of entrenched cockpits on each side of the hull. The yacht features an electronic autopilot system to replace the flight controller crew position responsible for controlling the foils and flying the boat. There is also an electrically-powered hydraulic system to replace the grinder positions on the crew.
There are currently ten AC40s on order for America’s Cup entrants. Emirates Team New Zealand, the current America’s Cup holders, designed the AC40 and will make its in-house simulator available for any private AC40 owners to prepare to sail the $2 million ultra-high performance yacht.