Oracle Sails High
Only two of the four airfoils are in the water, reducing drag to near zero.

The Mariners Museum in Newport News has landed the Oracle, winner of the 2017 America’s Cup off Bermuda. The behemoth sailboat is suspended from the ceiling of a specially made wing of the museum. It harkens back to the Spirit of St. Louis suspended from the ceiling of the old Smithsonian.

Oracle’s light weight and amazing airfoils enabled it to surpass 50 mph as it came from behind 8-1 to beat New Zealand 9-1 for the Cup. The identical boats weigh perhaps 1 one-thousandth of the 20th century Navy ships and cruise liners portrayed elsewhere in the museum.

To get to the exhibit, one has to navigate through the Monitor Center, the elaborate display of the Monitor vs. Merrimac battle in Hampton Roads during the Civil War. One also has to pass through a detailed exhibit on the US Navy. It includes an aerial photo of the USS Enterprise, the first nuclear aircraft carrier. The photo shows sailors lined up to depict Einstein’s equation.

Admission to the museum has been reduced to $1 to build audience, which has since doubled.

Since this iconic boat emerged, the America’s Cup and even the Vendee race have convered to air foils. Developers figured out to outfit not just catamarans but sloops as well. The 2021 Vendee solo race around the world became dominated by foiled sloops. The winner came in under 80 days, a Jules Verne fantasy come true. Before long, foils accompanied small cats that came onto the commercial market. Initial pricing: $400,000. Foils on commercial sloops will be close behind.

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