Monday, November 2, 2020

World's Greatest Yacht Race Sees Competitors Flown Around the Globe

Craft That 'Fly' on Water Travel by Air
Shipping News Feature

UK – ITALY – US – NEW ZEALAND – The Americas Cup is surely the very pinnacle of ocean yacht racing, the Formula One of the water, but less frequently contested and possibly even more expensive for individual races. Shipping the contestants then is a delicate yet massive undertaking, particularly as they travel as air freight and not on land or their own natural habitat.

When it comes to flying the 22.8 metre long yachts to the other side of the world one carrier’s name springs out, and once again Antonov Airlines were a natural choice to undertake the task. Three of the competitors recently completed their journeys to New Zealand to prepare to take part in the America's Cup World Series in Auckland which runs from 17 to 20 December.

Following this series the Prada Cup will take place after which time the finalists compete in the America’s Cup match itself in March 2021. All the yachts are AC75 class craft and their 4.9 metre beams mean only a very special aircraft can accommodate them. Step forward the seven strong AN-124-100 Ruslan fleet which Ukrainian outfit Antonov operates.

Three of the competitors, from Italy, the UK, and the US, saw their high tech ‘flying’ yachts which rise from the water when racing, have the Antonov in-house engineering team working to ensure the safe loading of each vessel.

The first yacht was transported from Providence, Rhode Island for the American Magic team, with the second travelling from London Stansted Airport, for the British Ineos Team UK, and the third departing Milan Bergamo Airport, Italy for the Italian Luna Rossa team.

The journey from Rhode Island took three days and included two scheduled fuelling stops in Chicago, Illinois, and Honolulu, Hawaii, whilst the air shipment of the cargoes from the UK and Italy both took three days as well with stops in Dubai, UAE, and Surabaya, Indonesia, also for scheduled refuelling.

The 50 kilometre per hour yachts meant a total weight of each consignment (including the yachts and support equipment) of 20 tonnes, and Andriy Blagovisniy, Commercial Director of Antonov Airlines observed:

“Our engineers worked closely with the teams that organised the air shipment of these unique yachts to develop a safe loading and stowage system for the long journeys to New Zealand. The AN-124 Ruslan, which has a volume of cargo cabin up to 700 cubic metres, was the ideal aircraft for the job.”

Photo: The Italian team’s yacht Luna Rossa AC75 slides into the gaping maw of the giant aircraft.