Innovations in America’s Cup sailing

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The two sailboats competing in the America’s Cup are loaded with compressive and tensile stresses in an exquisitely choreographed dance of struts, spars and cables.

BMW Oracle’s boat, USA-17, has a segmented vertical wing, complete with nine flaps that can be individually adjusted for wind conditions.

Alinghi’s catamaran uses soft sails and is lighter and slightly smaller but just as high tech. Made almost entirely of carbon fiber, the enormous multihulls — USA-17 has three hulls, while Alinghi 5, shown here, has two — are about as delicate as a house of cards.

Full story: Innovations in America’s Cup Sailing – The New York Times > Science > Slide Show