Recently many F-boat fans spotted a Farrier F22R being used by Emirates Team New Zealand as a test platform for their radical new soft wing sail developments. The New Zealand Herald mentioned this on 25th February
ETNZ’s decision to use the F22R was based on a number of features that suited the testing they envisaged, which is primarily aimed at developing a practical, high efficiency wing rig for the new AC75 class being developed for the 36th America’s Cup, to be sailed in March 2021.
Firstly, the F22R is a convenient size to accept the roughly 1/3 scale test rig. The boat provides a broad shroud base and at this early stage of proof of concept the wide shroud base allowed simple testing of the mast aerofoil section without the complexity of spreaders. It has a nice big deck area to work from and is capable of relatively high speed for its 7 metre waterline length. This particular boat is an F22R Cuddy Cabin version so the cockpit is generous and can accommodate 3 or 4 crew to deal with the sail controls & monitor the performance. The owner/builder of the boat is Neil Wilkinson, who has been associated with Team NZ since the early 1990s.
The rig was designed to plug onto the standard F22 mast ball and is raised and lowered using the normal rigging procedure for the Farrier, utilising the trailer winch. The double mainsails can then be raised or lowered on the water similar to any conventional yacht, eliminating the complex procedure required to step the massive rigid wing sails used in recent America’s Cup regattas. ETNZ hope the development of this type of soft wing sail can eventually trickle down to be adopted by a wide range high performance yachts.