SailGP boats show a turn of speed

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Casey Conley photos
Fast cats representing the U.S., above, and China, below, practice for races in San Francisco Bay.

In an exercise that couldn’t be further from the world of the heavily laden voyaging boat, a fleet of cats sailed recently in San Francisco Bay as part of SailGP’s multiday racing series with professional teams representing six nations: the U.S., Great Britain, France, Japan, Australia and China.

In addition to the difference in carrying capacity between the average voyaging sailboat and one of these fully foiling 50-foot catamarans, there is something of a speed difference as well. While most voyaging boats are lucky to hit 8 knots in perfect conditions, these cats — based on the America’s Cup AC50 boats — are reportedly capable of 54 knots.

The first racing series was held in Sydney, Australia, in February, followed by the San Francisco races in early May. The series will continue in New York in June; Cowes, England, in August; and will conclude in Marseille in September. For more information, visit sailgp.com.