The hydrogen foil boat that will accompany two America’s Cup teams in the 2024 edition is Italian. The project is called BGH-HSV and is signed by Bluegame, a shipyard of the Sanlorenzo galaxy. For those who visited the Genoa Boat Show, it was impossible not to see the boat, on display at the entrance to the fair. Here is what it looks like and how it works.
What are America’s Cup chase boats.
Bluegame’s ambitious project starts from the needs of the teams and the strict and stringent America’s Cup regulations provided even for chase boats. These support boats are used by teams to follow the racing hull, both during training and during Cup practice. After Team New Zealand’s announcement dating back to 2021 informing other teams that it was working on a prototype hydrogen-powered chase boat, all teams had to adjust to this choice, as the Cup Protocol stipulates.
The choice is an important step forward in the sustainability of an event like the America’s Cup, which is yes a sailing race, but involves hulls capable of speeds in excess of 50 knots. The challenge for the shipyards supporting the teams is therefore to combine environmental needs with sporting ones, which require fast boats that can nimbly hold their own against the AC75s (the boats in which the America’s Cup will be raced). The Protocol requires chase boats, the “tenders” of the Cup boats, to have the following characteristics. Propulsion relied solely on hydrogen, presence of foils, ability to reach at least 50 knots of speed and have a minimum range of 180 miles. All in a boat that cannot exceed 10 meters in length.
Bluegame BGH-HSV: the 50-knot hydrogen boat
The challenge was met enthusiastically by Bluegame, although it is an extremely complex step forward from a design standpoint, not least because engagement in the world of multihulls is recent for the shipyard, which recently unveiled its first: the BGM75. The chase boat is in fact a catamaran, is called BGH-HSV (Hydrogen Support Vessel) and was unveiled at the recent Cannes and Genoa boat shows. The development journey began with the New York Yacht Club American Magic team, challengers in the 37th America’s Cup, but the work was immediately appreciated and recognized by other teams as well. In fact, it was just a few days ago that the prestigious French Orient Express Racing Team also chose Bluegame’s signature development platform for its chase boat.
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In terms of design, the boat is a 10-meter long catamaran with a front and a rear foil. The front one is composed of two shafts, fuselages and propellers, joined by a single front wing, while the center rear one is composed of shaft and wing. The enclosed, aerodynamic deck plan houses several individual seats with wraparound, protected seating and a dashboard that controls the electronics and manages the operation of the foils.
For the development of the BGH-HSV, Bluegame created a team of professionals with long experience in the America’s Cup world from different areas. Besides structures and composite, the areas involved the most were foil design and management of the software that controls the attitude of the flying boat. The work put into making the BGH-HSV will also be used by Bluegame for the development of an ambitious project, the BGM65HH hydrogen-powered multihull.