Webb Alumni and the America’s Cup

Starting February 8th, two of the most extreme sailing craft ever built faced off in the 33rd  America's Cup — and   Webb graduates participated in the design of both boats.  Duncan MacLane ('78) was hired as a consultant to two-time defending America's Cup victor Alinghi  (Geneva, Switzerland), while Bobby Kleinschmit ('06) at contributed to the design team of BMW-Oracle (San Francisco, CA).  Senior David Gross is getting valuable experience as a Winter Work intern working with Bobby at Morrelli and Melvin.

Because of an inability to agree on the rules of the competition, this America's Cup has reverted to the rules of the “Deed of Gift,” an 1887 document that places very few rules on the type of boat that can be entered.  With the rule book thrown away, both teams were given the rare opportunity think big and let imaginations run wild. 

Both teams have billionaires for financial backing, so the only real restrictions have been time, the laws of physics, and a 90ft static waterline limitation.  The result is that Alinghi will race a lightweight and elegant catamaran, which appears to be over 110 feet length overall, while BMW-Oracle will race a trimaran of similar length, but with a wider overall beam.  The BMW-Oracle trimaran will race with a rigid wingsail that rises more than 200 feet off the water, while Alinghi will race with more conventional sails and a mast of similar height. 

These gigantic multihulls represent the latest in high-performance sailing technology.  As multihull enthusiasts, MacLane and Kleinschmit would love to see catamarans or trimarans compete for the next America's Cup. 

It’s familiar territory for MacLane, who was a member of the Stars and Stripes design team in 1988, when the American team defended the Cup with a 60ft, wingsail-powered catamaran.  The '88 Cup was the last time a "Deed of Gift" competition happened, and the only other time a multihull and a wingsail have been seen in America's Cup competition.  MacLane  has also won the Little America's Cup, a sailing competition for 25ft C-Class catamarans that also use rigid wingsails.    

As for the BMW-Oracle trimaran, it was originally launched in 2008 but has since undergone significant performance-optimizing modifications.  Kleinschmit's employer, Morrelli & Melvin Design & Engineering, is a leading performance multihull design office and was hired to assist the BMW-Oracle team on many of the modifications to the boat. http://33rd.americascup.com/en/

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