top of page

McConaghy Boats - Let's Go Racing

The foiling AC40 boats have radically enhanced the America’s Cup, and they’re set to transform one-design class racing next.

The 37th edition of the America’s Cup is lining up to be a showstopper. But before we even get to the main event, the AC40 boats are attracting international attention from all levels of yacht racing and peaking the pulse rate of sailors and Cup enthusiasts alike.

Emirates Team New Zealand selected McConaghy to produce the new AC40 class of foiling monohulls, recognising the company’s credentials for high-performance yacht building and composite excellence.

Emirates Team New Zealand undertook the design of the new 11.8m racing machine, which is equipped with a host of complex hydraulic, mechatronic and electronic systems. “This is next level stuff,’ says McConaghy group director Mark Evans. “It is a small package, but the level of composite engineering and internal systems is highly complex, and the challenge to build these in a production run within such a short time frame was significant.”

Emirates Team New Zealand design chief Dan Bernasconi says there was no holding back in terms of design: “It is a no-holds-barred racing machine. We are putting everything out there with the best foiling 40-footer we could produce in terms of hull shape, foils, sails, and control systems.”

The AC40’s main foils have a wide wingspan that promotes earlier lift-off and improved light-air foiling. The flowing hull lines reflect the hydrodynamic effort to achieve the same, combined with aerodynamic refinement to reduce drag in flight.

To produce the hull and deck shell, McConaghy CNC milled a hull and deck plug as a single piece and then took separate female moulds for the hull and deck. “We have built a lot of maxi yachts, and a couple of America’s Cup yachts before as well, but everything about these boats is a step up. Just look at the composite engineering and the range of core types – there’s Corecell, Nomex and aluminium honeycomb,” Evans explains. The result is a hull shell that’s incredibly light, “Four guys can pick this 40ft hull up and take it for a walk!” jokes Evans.

The AC40s are already in use by the America’s Cup teams as a training boat and development tool. They’ll also be used for competition in various America’s Cup preliminary regattas in the run-up to the 2024 America’s Cup contest in Barcelona. The AC40 fleet is also the boat of choice for the Youth and Women’s America’s Cup events, which will be an integral attraction to the events in Barcelona.

With these first AC40s now delivered, there’s space in the McConaghy build sheds for the next round of hulls and these are offered to private owners, presenting opportunity to join the fastest one-design class in the world.

“We intend to establish a race circuit for these foiling monohulls, independent of the America’s Cup. This would put owner-drivers behind the helm of these scaled down America’s Cup yachts, allowing them to enjoy the most advanced foiling technology available, capable of achieving more than 40 knots,” advises Evans.

McConaghy are already talking to several prospective owners and identifying potential regatta locations in Europe. “The class would be managed with technical support from Emirates Team New Zealand and McConaghy, and we’re hopeful that we’ll have the setup established by the end of 2023,” says Evans.

The AC40 boats are delivered to buyers with all systems installed, batteries, charging system, cradle, flat rack transporter, Southern Spars mast and rigging, a North Sails wardrobe, and the on-board instrumentation system. “The price of the boats is very competitive comparing it to a high-spec TP52 SuperSeries yacht. And with only three professional crew required, the race campaign costs for the AC40 class would be significantly less,” comments Evans.

Emirates Team New Zealand took delivery of the first AC40, and after being subjected to rigorous on-shore load tests and dry-sail systems checks, followed by tow-tests to check the foiling system, the boat was sailing just three days after un-wrapping. “Its first outing was in light to moderate conditions, and within 15 minutes of hoisting the sails for the first time, our AC40 was foiling upwind at 29-31 knots. During that debut session it executed five foiling tacks, 11 foiling gybes and reached a top speed of 36 knots,” says Bernasconi.

The polars indicate a top speed of 44 knots in 20 knots of true windspeed, with an upwind speed of 39 knots. As the Cup teams become more familiar with the boats, the 50-knot barrier is well within reach.

“I was absolutely blown away by the boat’s performance and how everything worked straight out of the box,” says Ray Davies, who was part of initial on-the-water test crew. “We are confident the AC40 will become a class in its own right. You don’t need to be an elite helmsman to sail this yacht,” Davies emphasises. “You just need three other very good people around you. This has been the vision for this class from the outset.”

With the flight control fully automated and all other functions including foil deployment, sail trim inputs, mast rotation and rudder rake powered by hydraulics, it is a push-button boat. But that takes nothing away from the excitement, the action or adrenalin rush. Along with the inherent natural speed, there are plenty of speed-generating inputs to test the sailing skills, tactical intelligence, and teamwork of the crew.

In creating the AC40, both Emirates Team New Zealand and McConaghy have lifted their game to achieve exceptional results.


Filter Posts

bottom of page