BMW Oracle has answered some of the frequently asked questions about its 90 foot trimaran.
Why did you choose a tri over a cat?
A: While a catamaran of the same size will be faster in a narrow wind speed range, a trimaran offers better all-round performance because it is lighter and has a good volume distribution between the hulls. Obviously, not knowing the venue made all-round performance very important to us.
How big a challenge was it shifting from designing a monohull to a multi?
A: We were originally set up to design AC90s and that it was what we started out concentrating on. So it was a substantial shift to focus on this boat. Partnering with VPLP has worked extremely well. They have brought leading experience and skill in designing multihulls. Our designers have also brought some nice ideas, and have learned a lot as well.
How important was sailor input in designing a boat like this?
A: A yacht like this has never been built before, so to try and imagine how to sail it required plenty of input from sailors in order to make sure that it would be competitive on the water.
How big a challenge was it to design and build a boat when you did not know the race venue?
A: We had to design a boat that we knew would perform well in a wide variety of conditions and that would also allow us to make further changes in order to adapt to the venue.
What impact did it have that you had to produce the boat in such a short time?
A: Our design team had to get things right from the start, and we also knew there would be limited time for further testing and development. It has been a remarkable effort by our designers and builders and a real testament to the quality of the resources available at Anacortes. We were given valuable input in drawing on BMW’s expertise in intelligent lightweight design and EfficientDynamics..
Why a canting mast, won’t this be a challenge in tacking quickly?
A: Where you have a trade-off between straight line speed and manoeuvrability sailors generally prefer to have a fast boat.
Q: Why such a low freeboard?
A: With less weight and windage this enables the boat to be faster through more conditions. While in some circumstances a low freeboard can make a boat harder to handle our key focus has been on good all–round performance.
Q: How is the new boat performing on early tests?
A: We are very pleased with the initial handling. We will carefully increase the sailing range as we build up more experience with her. Our impressions are that the boat is very responsive and capable of being very fast.
Q: What conditions would you expect this boat to be best in?
A: With the right combination of components we expect this boat to be competitive in a wide range of conditions. It was also designed to allow for changes depending on the venue.
Q: We see your crew wearing helmets and PFDs, is this going to be standard?
A: Yes. A boat like this generates enormous loads, and when you are flying both hulls you are a long way up from the water! We are really enjoying sailing this boat, but safety always has to come first and that is why we are taking each step slowly and carefully. We will gradually increase the sailing range as we build up more experience with her.
Q: Will there be two helmsmen?
A: Yes, it is a long way from one side of this boat to the other.
Q: How many crewmembers will it have?
Q: What is your schedule for further training and sailing on the boat?
A: Later this month we will ship the boat to San Diego for two months of training in warmer waters, which will allow us to extend the sailing season.