America's Cup

The America's Cup World Series Boats and Roles of the Crew

Victoria Barnett

By Victoria Barnett

March 15, 2016


The America’s Cup teams voted last year to reduce the size of the boats to be sailed in the America’s Cup. This shift from the 62-foot catamarans to the 40- to 50-foot range was expected to cut costs, similarly to what was expected from the move to the 62-foot from the 72-foot catamarans used in the 2013 Cup races.

Many people believe that racing in a smaller boat is a step in the right direction. Teams are able to dramatically reduce costs without sacrificing the design or engineering. Originally, only ORACLE TEAM USA and Emirates New Zealand were in favor of using a smaller boat, but then the teams saw the boat in action and the majority supported the idea.

About the AC45

rp160227_lvacwsord1_6782.jpgFor the America’s Cup World Series, teams will race in fully-foiling, one-design AC45 catamarans. Not all America’s Cup boats are exactly the same, and each team typically works in secret to design their hulls. However, each boat is designed with the same set of rules and built from the same yard.

The AC45 is a lean, mean, speed machine held down by a five-person crew. It spans 45 feet wide and 70 feet high and can sail at speeds over 30 knots. This lightweight rocket ship can actually reach speeds up to 50 knots.  

A significant amount of force is generated to propel the boat and lift it above the water, making it look like it is actually flying. Only the centerboards and rudders stay in contact with the water, reducing drag and making the boats move at fast speeds.

Needless to say, it doesn’t look like what you might think a sailboat would look like; as some would say, it looks more like a transformer.

The AC45 has been invaluable in the development of the new AC48, which will be used for the 35th America’s Cup in 2017 in Bermuda. The boats are much easier to control and maneuver and allow the teams to maximize the boat’s capability.

AC45f Specifications

Build: honeycomb core & carbon fiber sandwich
Length: 13.45m (44.1ft)
Beam: 6.90m (22.6ft)
Weight: 1,290–1,320kg (2,840–2,910 lb)
Maximum draught : 2.7m (8ft 10in)
Rig height: 21.5m (71ft) without extension, 25.5 m (84ft) with extension
Wing: 20m (66ft) 83.5m2 (899sq ft) wing element with three slotted flaps
Extension: 4m (13ft) high, 8.7m2 (94sq ft) area
Jib area: 48 m2 (520 sq ft), manufactured by a sail loft of team's choice
Gennaker area: 125 m2 (1,350 sq ft), manufactured by a sail loft of team's choice
Builders: Core Builders (NZ), Cookson Boats (NZ)
Crew: 5 + 1 guest

Roles of the Crew


The Helmsman is the mastercommander, deciding how the boat goes around the race course. The Helmsman and the Tactician work together to communicate a plan to the rest of the team. He (or she) also controls the boat on the hydro foils, which requires extreme concentration and the ability to make split second decisions.

Wing Trimmer

rp160227_lvacwsord1_1621-1.jpgThe Wing Trimmer controls the wing sale, which is the driving force behind the boat, and also helps move the daggerboards. Sometimes he (or she) is also a Tactician, watching the wind and what other boats are doing.


The Grinder is the main power source for winding winches and pulling hard. They are always working at full capacity throughout the race.


The Trimmer controls the front two sails, the smaller Jib and the code zero, which is used downwind in the lighter winds. This is important for keeping the boat quick at all times.


The Bowman is the utility man of the boat – he (or she) is the first to cross the boat to prepare the opposite side for a change of course as he sets everything up for each maneuver. Being quick on his feet is a must.   

Experiences_NY_Black_CMYK-2.pngSee the Boats and Crews in Action in New York

Good news! You can see the boats and crews in action through the ticket packages we have available to the 2016 Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series in New York.

For this event, we are offering an exclusive hospitality experience complete with prime views of the racing action, gourmet food, open bar, guest speakers and more.

Click below to learn more about America’s Cup Experiences Official Ticket Packages.

Get My America's Cup New York Ticket Package