The largest wing ever built – and it’s not on a plane

The largest wing ever built was installed this morning on the next U.S. America’s Cup competitor – a 90’x90′ carbon-fiber trimaran built and raced by BMW Oracle Racing.

Photo by Gille Martin-Raget for BMW Oracle Racing. Copyright.

Photo by Gille Martin-Raget for BMW Oracle Racing. Copyright.

Replacing traditional fabric sails, the wing is the largest ever built. It’s 190 feet tall and 80 percent larger than the wing of a Boeing 747, according to the BMW Oracle Racing website.

BMW Oracle as it looked before the wing; Photo by Gille Martin-Raget

BMW Oracle as it looked before the wing; Photo by Gille Martin-Raget

Gentle trials (really on gentle) will begin immediately, culminating in a race against the Swiss defender Alinghi in February. The race is scheduled to be held in Dubai – though that, like so much else in this event, is being contested first in a court of law.

This is only the second time the America’s Cup races will be held using multihulls – though it will be the first where the racing is likely to be more interesting than the court contest.

The first was 1988, when New Zealander Michael Fay challenged the rightful defender, Dennis Connor of the U.S., to a match using a 120-foot sloop-rigged monohull. Connor responded by coming to the race on a 60-foot catamaran (which also had a solid-wing sail). It was an embarrassingly lopsided and unthrilling shellacking. The U.S. won and Connor delivered all the evidence that thousands of insufferable multihull sailors have ever needed to proudly declare their version of the sport to be superior to that played in slower but more maneuverable  monohulls.

In any case, the upcoming contest promises to be a race; both teams have at least agreed to sail in boats that should finish within the same time zone of each other.

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