The 34th America’s Cup last year attracted millions who marveled at the sight of 72-foot catamarans flying across San Francisco Bay on foils at speeds more suited to a road race than a yachting contest. Like every America’s Cup since 1851, the state of the art was not only advanced by the event—it was given a swift kick in the hindquarters!
One of the most visible technologies used aboard the AC72 boats was the sail itself. This technical wonder is not actually a sail in any traditional sense, but rather an airplane wing, tipped up on end and outfitted with controls that allow the boat to extract every ounce of force the breeze has to offer. Until now, conventional yacht owners could only dream about having this technology.
Fortunately for performance-minded sailors, the engineering team at Skämtamarin AG in Göteborg, Sweden, has produced a revolutionary new sail for existing rigs: the Styvmjuka Vingsegel. This computer-controlled sail system combines the finesse of a light-air sail with the jet-fighter performance of a rigid wing. It is among the most important advances in sailing yacht technology since the finned keel.