Meet the Machines

The two 90-foot boats that will battle it out have very little in common.


Alinghi 5

A 23-member design team headed by Grant Simmer, Rolf Vrolijk and Dirk Kramers-with input from Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)-created the Alinghi entry for the Deed of Gift Race. The yacht was based in large part on lessons learned from the previous Alinghi Swiss lake racing multihulls such as the Decision 35's and the 41-foot Le Black.

Alinghi is light but has a stiff Y-shaped central spine. Its carbon fiber structure includes fiber-optic sensors that provide real time data on the boat. Its canting mast is 17 stories tall and can withstand compression that is "comparable to 50 SUVs balanced on a foundation the size of a tennis ball." It has a 90-foot beam and its gennaker is one of the three largest in the world.


30 designers and scientists (led by Mike Drummond and Ian Burns) and 150,000 man-hours of build time (under the direction of Mark Turner and Tim Smyth) are responsible for BMW Oracle's giant trimaran.

Much has been said about the massive wing sail, which towers over 220 feet above the deck and is twice as big as the wing of a Boeing 747 airplane. The trimaran can also be sailed the wing sail, which is made of aeronautical film over a lightweight, carbon-kevlar structure, or with a conventional mast and soft sail.