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There are three main types of sail used on an America’s Cup boat.
Mainsail: Around 220 metres square, flown behind the mast and secured to the boom.
Battens are set in pockets parallel to the boom to keep the trailing edge of the sail (leech) taut.
Mains are typically made of carbon and Kevlar and weigh 95kgs, costing a basic £80,000 before customising.
Each team is allowed 45 sails for the Louis Vuitton Cup, with an extra 15 permitted for the America’s Cup proper.
A syndicate is likely to hold about nine mainsails for different conditions but would only carry one during a race. A mainsail wears out easily and one main might last one round robin (eight races).
An upwind sail that is flown before the mast, costing around £40,000. Five headsails, of different size and weight, will be carried in one race and selected according to conditions.
The biggest headsail is called a genoa, which overlaps the mast. A genoa may measure up to 130 meters square.
Headsails are moulded from one piece of carbon/Kevlar composite laminated onto a mylar mould.
A genoa weighs about 48kg. It takes two people to lift the sail around on deck or three to drag it up from down below.
Spinnaker: The huge, colourful billowing sail flown at the front when sailing downwind.
Spinnakers can either be symmetrical, and flown from the top of the mast in lighter winds, or asymmetrical, when they are flown lower and used for lighter winds and closer wind angles.
The spinnaker is attached to a spinnaker pole, which is used to project the sail at the optimum angle to the wind. The pole is a carbon spar which measures about 11m and weighs about 40kg. It is controlled by a guy (rope) which is fed back to the winches.
Spinnakers are made of a complicated form of nylon and measure up to 500 metres square.
Five different spinnakers – three asymmetric, two symmetric - will be carried during a race and used depending on conditions.
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