Choices for the Next America’s Cup Class Unveiled

BMW Oracle Racing releases details on two potential classes for the 34th America's Cup, one a multihull, the other a canting-keel monohull.

When Ian Burns said that further information on the two choices for the class for the 34th America’s Cup would be forthcoming shortly, he wasn’t kidding. One day after the Cup’s return to Newport, R.I., BMW Oracle Racing produced this press release:

_New high-performance yachts for 34th America’s Cup
VALENCIA, Spain (2 July 2010) – Rating rule authorities in America and Britain have been commissioned to draft the rules for the next generation of America’s Cup yacht.

In asking US SAILING and the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s Seahorse Rating affiliate to write the rules, BMW ORACLE Racing and Golden Gate Yacht Club, winner of the 33rd America’s Cup last February, has ensured the process is neutral and independent.


“We’ve always said that the new design will be for the America’s Cup community. The result with be a ‘non-partisan yacht’ rather than a ‘defender’s yacht’,” said Ian Burns, Design Coordinator for BMW ORACLE Racing. “A great deal of input was sought from the America’s Cup community and the concept briefs given to the rule writers reflect that feedback.”

In a twin-track process, US SAILING will author a multihull rule and the RORC’s Seahorse Rating a canting-keel monohull rule.

“It would be premature to rule either a monohull or multihull in and the other out at this stage,” commented Russell Coutts, CEO of BMW ORACLE Racing. “Which type of boat is best for racing and media impact is one of many evaluations we will be testing over the coming months.”


The choice between monohull and multihull will be made after the conclusion of these trials, the first round of which is scheduled for Valencia in late July.

“Either option will provide high performance, exciting viewing and challenges to design, build and sailing teams,” commented Burns.

Versatile performance in light and strong winds is considered essential to minimize delayed or postponed racing.


In response to feedback from potential teams, the original concepts for both types have been scaled back from 26m (82 feet) LOA to 22m (72 feet) for tangible cost reduction.

An engine will be used to cant the keel on the monohull and move appendages on the multihull. The rule authors have been tasked to specify an environmentally friendly, smart, low-emission engine or power-pack.

“This offers a great opportunity for the America’s Cup community to take a leading role in this increasingly applied technology,” said Burns. “But there will be no powerassistance for crews to trim or hoist sails. Both the monohull and multihull will be very athletic boats to race hard.”


To ensure fairness, all teams will simultaneously receive updates and information from the authors with regards to progress.

The briefs to the rule authors outline parameters for both types of boat to give base-line dimensions.

This ‘box rule’ method should ensure boats designed by different teams are similar in style to guarantee the close racing the America’s Cup thrives on. Otherwise, the instructions to the rule writers are deliberately open to afford them full creative freedom.

Seahorse Rating has asked Nick Nicholson and James Dadd, with their wide experience of previous America’s Cup class rules, to lead the monohull development.

The multihull rule is under the purview of multihull designer Pete Melvin, a two-time A Class catamaran world champion, and US SAILNG.

Other cost-cutting measures include limitations on the number of hulls, masts, appendages and sails a team can build. And the reduced crew size will mean fewer personnel.

“These boat concepts are all about similar performance between competing yachts throughout the wind range,” said Burns. “Unique configurations are the expensive part of the America’s Cup. We don’t want a light-air boat taking on a heavy-air boat. The rule should ensure close racing while being able to sail in a wide range of conditions.”

Rule writing is the seventh stage in an exhaustive process. The objective is to publish the new America’s Cup Class Rule by the end of September.

Target Features
Monohull & Multihull
High-performance and close racing
Light to strong wind range capability
Ease of shipping & transportation
22m max overall Length

Monohull (For a more complete brief, click here)
1.0 x wind speed upwind performance
1.4 x wind speed downwind performance
Narrow displacement range
Combination of bow and twin rudders allowed
Unlimited gennaker area
13 crew_


Multihull (For a more complete brief, click here)
1.2 x wind speed upwind performance
1.6 x wind speed downwind performance
Displacement 4000-4200kg
Up to four moveable appendages
Wing sails permitted
Demountable assembly
12 crew

America’s Cup Design Rule Process (since 1 March 2010):
Step 1: Dialogue and discussions with stakeholders
Step 2: Initial Concepts created for monohull and multihull by non-aligned experts
(Bruce Nelson and Peter Melvin)
Step 3: Design conference (held 18 May 2010) for ‘who’s who of yacht design’ in
Step 4: On-line follow-up survey for conference attendees
Step 5: Aggregating feedback
Step 6: Concept brief prepared
Step 7: Rule writing commissioned from US SAILING and Seahorse Rating
Step 8: Choice of monohull or multihull based on July trials in Valencia
Step 9: Rule finalization
Step 10: New America’s Cup Class rule published