After 16 years of long service on Lake Geneva, the D35 one design catamaran was overdue for replacement. The advent of foiling catamarans in the America’s Cup led the stakeholders in the new TF35 not only to embrace this technology, but also to take it a significant step forward by developing a state of the art, automated flight control system. With this the crew has basic control, but on a split second basis a computer controls battery-powered actuators that in turn operate flaps on the foils wing and rudder elevators.
The automation also allows the new boat to fly in a more efficient manner, which in turn enables it to both foil upwind, as well as down, to foil in less wind than it might normally and to be capable of sophisticated manoeuvres such as foiling jibes. It also allows the owner and crew to focus more on familiar skills such as steering, tactics, sail trim and manoeuvring. Thus the TF35 enables teams without America’s Cup backgrounds an easy, enjoyable path into foil-borne racing.
Compared to the D35, the TF35 is also more versatile. For lake racing it will be able out-perform its predecessor thanks to its light wind take-off speed.
In fact the TF35 is only part lake boat. Primarily it is designed to perform on open water, because its stakeholders are keen both to race outside of Switzerland and to encourage international participation. A circuit is planned across Europe initially taking in venues in Italy in 2021. It has also been realised that while the long distance races such as the Bol d’Or Mirabaud are important to Swiss teams, this isn’t always the case for foreign teams who might prefer purely to focus on around the cans racing. As a result, scoring on the TF35 Tour results in the long distance races may be discarded.
Two time America’s Cup winner Ernesto Bertarelli and his Alinghi team, along with a committed group of owners, have been behind the change to the TF35, just as they were with the D35 in the early 2000s. Bertarelli explains: "My hope for the new design is that it is not only as successful as the D35, but that it also becomes a competitive class internationally on open waters. The TF35 is a one-design, that’s very high performance and, most excitingly, is designed to foil upwind in light conditions.
"I love racing on the lake and the camaraderie of the owners we have involved in the project. Once all the boats are up and running successfully then racing on open water will bring a fresh challenge to the competition.”