The insane designs for the next America’s Cup yachts have some veterans scratching their heads

Image: Emirates Team New Zealand / YouTube

One of the main brains behind Team New Zealand’s radical new America’s Cup boat has been described as “a bit nuts”.

Frenchman Guillaume Verdier has had a huge part in the foiling 75-foot monohull that will be used in the 2021 America’s Cup planned for Auckland.

Verdier is hugely respected in world yachting and is being given the benefit of the doubt as the futurist design is digested.

“Guillaume is right there with the best of the best because he has earned it. No razzle-dazzle. He’s simply smart, creative, a bit nuts and works extremely hard,” American Ken Read, a Cup veteran and president of North Sails, told the New York Times in a lengthy article.

The 47-year-old Verdier, who has been with Emirates Team New Zealand since the leadup to the 2013 America’s Cup in San Francisco when they shocked their rivals with the ability to foil the 72-foot catamarans in use then. Team New Zealand’s refined foiling 50-footer, with the help of leg-power, won back the Auld Mug in Bermuda this year.

Verdier believes there is time to make adjustments if required in what will be a design race for 2021.

“I’m sure if there are things that are not going to work, we will fix it with the time we have,” he said of the new boat he continues to work on.

This video shows off the concept and explains some aspects of how the boat will work.

The class rule for the new boat will be released on March 31, allowing Cup syndicates to begin their design and build process.

Australian Cup veteran Iain Murray admits the new boat, which features giant cantilevering foils for both speed and stability, has him puzzled.

“I’m having trouble connecting the dots in my simple mind,” Murray, the former Cup regatta director and skipper, told the New York Times, as he prepared for another Sydney to Hobart race.

“I do a lot of sailing on these 70- to 100-foot monohulls. I know how fast they go, and I know how fast catamarans have to be going to get onto the foils. They basically need to be doing 15 knots, and I know what it takes for Wild Oats, which is a 100-footer, to do 15 knots.

“I’m sure once the new boat is on the foils with stability, it will be great. It’s just getting on and off the foils is the part I’m struggling with.”

Murray conceded the reputation of Verdier and Team New Zealand to think outside the square needed to be respected.

“Guillaume hasn’t had too many bad ones. So I think we’ve just got to wait and see. Many times in the past, people have questioned what they’ve done, and they’ve proven themselves.”

Verdier revealed the seeds for the new design were sewn a while back when nhe worked on plans for a 38-foot monohull for a private client in New Zealand who was introduced to him Ray Davies, the veteran Team New Zealand sailor who was a coach of the team in Bermuda.

The initial drawing for that project still had a keel but that was quickly removed.

“We sat together with the client, and Ray said, ‘Hey, come on! After all we’ve learned, you’ve got to get rid of this keel. It’s looking draggy to have so much in the water,'” Verdier said. “And I said, ‘Yes, but Ray, it’s going to capsize too easily. We need some minimum stability here.’ “

The solution was to propose putting the weight in the foils instead.


“That is completely counterintuitive because the foil is a lifting surface, so why put lead in a lifting surface?” Verdier said. “We need some stability before we start flying, so we make the foils like canting keels. This kind of boat existed in the past, with twin keels, so I said, ‘Let’s make a kind of twin keel but with foils, not too heavy, just enough so we can right it up at 90 degrees when we cant it the correct way’.”

Verdier isn’t sure if he is “nuts” but he doesn’t shy away from hard work.

“My wife will say it’s too much. I work a lot of hours, and I’m working from home, so that helps me. I’m very dedicated to the work.”

One of Verdier’s other projects is a foiling monohull durable enough to withstand the demands of the Volvo Ocean Race.

One of his standout maxis, Comanche, is a favourite for this year’s Sydney to Hobart race.

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