The China Team's AC 45 sailing with her MatriX Titanium Code Zero in San Diego. Pierre Contin photo.
Sylvain Barrielle, owner of UK-Halsey San Francisco, is the sail coordinator for China Team's latest America's Cup challenge. This is his second campaign with China Team and his sixth consecutive America's Cup campaign. As he says, "This may seem like another day at the office, but the difference between all the previous monohulls and the new winged multihulls is totally different." Here's how he sums up the program so far:
The AC 45 one-design was an interesting process that we started in end of December 2010. We only had one month to come up with a set of practice/racing sails. We never planned a large R&D budget for the AC 45 because, at the end of the day, we are not going to race the 45 in the America's Cup. For a team without a "sky is the limit" budget it doesn't make sense to spend a lot on the AC 45; instead we are saving resources to develop the sails for the AC 72 that we will be racing for the Cup shortly.
The main objective for the first set of sails was to validate the MatriX Titanium product, which are proprietary membrane sails made with continuous yarns by UK-Halsey Sailmakers. Next we had to make sure the communication flowed between the all the different parties of the sailing team and design team. Finally, we needed to validate some of the design tools. An interesting point is that we all live in different parts of the world, which has the advantage that the project can keep moving 24 hours a day. The one problem with the 24-hour workday is that you end up with a fractional night.
We achieved what we intended, which was to find out right away where we were right and wrong. After one year we did not validate 100% of our upwind sail inventory, but we ended up with a clear view on where we stand in terms of boat speed for 2012 events in Italy.
While that work was for the AC 45; work on sails for the much bigger and more complex AC 72 as been going on since December 2010 on a parallel track. On the AC 45 we have mainly worked with UK-Halsey France in Mandelieu as well as with UK-Halsey Hong Kong. Stay tuned for more stories and photos as our efforts to win the Cup continue.