The America's Cup is the oldest international trophy competition but it is seeing quite a technological upgrade this year. Gone are the regulations for only single-hull ships and for the first time motorized sails are allowed; unless you're the BMW Oracle Racing team who have forgone the normal sails and opted for a carbon-fiber/Kevlar wing instead.
With their new technology a sailor with a few clicks on a computer can almost instantly move the wing to wherever he wants, regardless of the wind conditions around it. The wing's design gives the boat 5% more speed, equivalent to about one knot. Weighing in at 7,700 pounds the wing is 80% longer than a 747's!
As well, the mast itself has been upgraded with sensors that feed data constantly into an onboard computer and manages the stress loads on the mast and wing and can even tell the crew when the mast is in danger of snapping.
It's not perfected yet though, because the wing can't change size it can sometimes get too MUCH wind and destabilize the vessel, but the increase in speed is worth it to the team as they get ready for the February 8th race in Valencia, Spain.