«Like the America's Cup», but even faster: the F50 winged catamaran is launched

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SailGP Australia have launched an F50 winged catamaran in which they plan to compete in this international regatta. On November 28, witnesses could watch as the 15-meter boat with a giant golden kangaroo on its sail «»over the waters of Wongarei Bay in northern New Zealand.

«Taking part in the series and especially the first leg in Sydney Harbour is a source of national pride for me and the crew and we want the boat to demonstrate that»," says skipper Tom Slingsby , who was personally involved in the design.

Although the SailGP series will be held for the first time it already boasts an intriguing backstory.

«The series was founded by LarryEllison, owner of the American Cup Team USA» Oracle Team USA, as a kind of counterpart to the world's oldest regatta.

After the American teamlost the Cup to the New Zealanders, who as the new defenders of the Cup decided to forgocatamaransin favour of monohulls, Ellison announced that he wouldthen organize his own similar international series of regattas, where everything would be the same.

The F50 winged catamaran is essentially a seriously modified AC50 class, familiar to America's Cup fans «America's Cup».

The class was wizened on for a year by the New Zealanders of Core Builders Composites. The resulting boat is 12-15% faster than its progenitor AC50 and can reach up to 53 knots.

«It's great to feel this new, incredibly fast boat approaching the limits of what is possible. Now that we've all trained together, I rate our chances as pretty good. It's hard to say who will win the series and who will win the first leg in Sydney, but I think our chances are really good. All the boats are the same, it all comes down to which team will work better with each other. It's a question of communication and ethics»," said Slingsby.

Unsurprisingly, the Aussie skipper is high on his team's chances - almost the entire Australia SailGP crew fought as part of Oracle Team USA in the America's Cup «»in 2013 and 2017, so they have plenty of experience and cohesion.

The F50 is 8.8 metres wide. The sail height varies from 18 to 28 metres depending on the type of armament: for stormy or weak winds. The catamaran will be steered by teams of five people.

Sir Russell Coutts, former Team Oracle director and SailGP co-organiser, told Britain's Telegraph newspaper that in future catamarans of all participating teams in the new series will be regularly updated «centrally».

«This will give us confidence that teams can compete on a level playing field and will also reduce the cost of upgrades»," he said.

The SailGP races will start on February 15, 2019. The first of five three-day stages will take place in Sydney, followed by regattas in San Francisco, New York and Cowes (UK) throughout the year. The series will conclude inMarseille on September20-22.

They face teams fromGreat Britain, the USA, France, China and Japan. The first and so far the only woman to compete in the SailGP will be France's Marie Riou» «Yachtwoman of the Year 2018 by the World Sailing Awards. She will be competing for France.

SailGP spectators, at least during the first leg of the competition in Sydney, will have a unique opportunity to get a peek «behind the scenes of» racing. Cockatoo Island, where the technical teams will be based, has already been declared an open zone for visitors. From January there will be an observation deck from where fans will be able to watch all the boat preparations for training and competition. «In addition, from February 1, special tours will be organized for visitors to get a closer look at» teams' cuisine.

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