I'm fascinated by this video clip of Oracle Team USA testing their AC72 racing catamaran in San Francisco Bay, in preparation for the forthcoming Louis Vuitton Cup and America's Cup. The craft apparently has underwater 'foils' or 'wings' that slowly take its weight as it moves faster through the water. At about 20 knots the entire hull is lifted out of the water, allowing even faster speeds to be attained - up to and even exceeding 40 knots. Having occasionally raced in ocean-going yachts off South Africa's coast during the 1970's, I can hardly believe that last figure - we counted ourselves very fortunate to exceed 10-12 knots! - but the video speaks for itself.
It's amazing how technology has transformed yacht racing - so much so that I don't know whether the AC72 and its peers can truly be referred to as 'yachts' any longer . . . I wonder what the sailors of the original America in 1851 would say if they could see their modern counterparts and their craft?