A Visual History of the Greatest Sailboats of the America’s Cup

From old-school schooners to killer catamarans, check out the evolution of the world’s greatest boat race.

Land Rover BAR

The 2017 America’s Cup race kicks off this week in Bermuda, but today’s incredible flying catamarans bear no resemblance to the old monohull sailboats that dominated the race for more than a century.

Take a look at how the winning boats have changed since 1851. Two ingredients remain constant, however: thrilling speed and highly-skilled sailing. 

Land Rover BAR skipper Sir Ben Ainslie will pilot his ship using a custom carbon fiber helm, which features gear-shift paddles shaped to fit his hands, giving the Olympic sailing legend perfect fingertip control in his pursuit of the world’s oldest sporting trophy.

Ainslie can use the steering wheel to “flyby adjusting the boat’s hydrofoils with greater precision for the fastest possible racing. Current 2.4-ton racing catamarans ride out of the water atop hydrofoils protruding from their keels to minimize drag in the water.

Land Rover BAR

This lets them achieve speeds of a bracing 58 mph on wind power alone, fueling the Cup’s legacy as the “world’s most dangerous sailboat race.”  The steering wheel turns the boat left and right as it would on a car, while the “gear shift” paddles control its height above the water by managing the lift from the hydrofoils.

“This is not just a great piece of design and engineering, but beautiful craftsmanship,” said Ainslie. “The controls are intuitive and smooth, with just the right amount of feel and feedback. It really has made a difference to how I control R1.”

In addition to the Land Rover BAR team, other competitors in the 35th America’s Cup include Oracle Team USA, Emirates Team New Zealand, Artemis Racing (Sweden), Softbank Team Japan, and Groupama Team France.

Who will achieve sailboat supremacy? You’ll just have to tune in to find out. 

H/T: Telegraph