On Aug. 29, 2012, a strange sight emerged on the choppy waters of Hauraki Gulf off Auckland, New Zealand. A black-hulled, 72-foot catamaran topped by a 131-foot wing sail sped across the gulf, first lifting its windward hull and then the leeward one, until the entire 15,000-pound boat was levitating above the waves, accelerating past 30 knots and pushing yacht racing into an entirely new realm.
A photograph appeared on the Internet almost immediately, and a few days later the sailing world had confirmation: Emirates Team Team New Zealand had figured out how to make its Americaâ??s Cup contender foil. The progression from single-hulled yachts to exotic, carbon-fiber multihulls that Oracle Oracle Chief Larry Ellison had initiated through litigation in the 33rd Americaâ??s Cup had escalated to an all-out arms race as boats that were initially designed only to be fast and exciting became faster, more exciting and now potentially life-threatening.