Oracle hope to get defence off to a flyer
Oracle Team USA have turned to one of the world’s leading aircraft manufacturers for help designing their wingsail powered AC45 and AC62 catamarans for the 35th America’s Cup and America’s Cup World Series.
The defenders of the coveted “Auld Mug”, the oldest trophy in international sport, have forged a technological partnership with Airbus whose engineers and experts will share their knowledge of aerodynamics, instrumentation and simulation, composites, structures, hydraulics and data analysis to work with Oracle’s design team.
“The America’s Cup is a boat race, but the design technology and engineering are very often the winning factor,” Jimmy Spithill, the Oracle skipper, said.
“The new America’s Cup boats are lighter and faster than what we’ve had before. They will be powered by a wing and will fly above the water on foils. They’re as much like airplanes as they are like traditional boats, so I know we’ll have a lot to learn from the experience the engineers at Airbus bring to the project.
“Everything we do in these boats is right at the edge of what’s possible. For our design team to be able to have access to the resources of Airbus is going be a huge benefit to us.”
Fabrice Brégier, the Airbus president and CEO, views the partnership with Oracle as mutually beneficial to both parties.
“There are so many similarities between the America’s Cup yacht and our aircraft design, that each partner benefits from an excellent platform not only to learn and grow but also to win,” he said.
“This is a completely new endeavour for us. By taking on an extreme technology and sports project of this magnitude we stretch our competencies and further boost our agility.
“All at Airbus are very excited about this partnership. Our engineering team’s enthusiasm and engagement to be a part of this project is simply overwhelming. The biggest challenge might be to bring them back working on airplanes again!”
With Australian Spithill at the helm, Oracle won the 33rd America’s Cup in 2010 racing a trimaran powered by a 223ft wing sail, one of the largest ever built.
The team that hails from the Golden Gate Yacht Club in San Francisco successfully defended its title at the 34th America’s Cup in the AC72 wingsail powered catamarans — that flew above the water on hydrofoils at more than 50mph — after pulling off the greatest comeback in sports history.
The next America’s Cup, to be held in Bermuda’s Great Sound in 2017, will be contested for in the new AC62 class which is a smaller, lighter and more finely engineered foiling catamaran than its predecessor that is expected to reach similar speeds.
n Local officials will play a significant role ensuring the safety of participating teams during the 35th America’s Cup and preceding Challenger Series.
With the wing-sailed AC45 and AC62 catamarans capable of reaching speeds in excess of 50 miles per hour, Iain Murray, the regatta director and former America’s Cup skipper, revealed that some locals will be given the vital task of making sure spectator boats stay well clear of the race course in the Great Sound.
“We’re going to need very strong support in course marshalling and race management, and I expect we’ll be relying heavily on the local support for this,” Murray said.
“Control of the race course area is more important than ever before. The race boats are extremely fast now, so providing a well-defined, exclusive area for the boats is very important from a safety point of view.”
Murray has been reappointed as regatta director by the Competitor Forum, comprising the six teams registered for the 2017 America’s Cup, having served in the same role at the previous America’s Cup in San Francisco in 2013.
As regatta director, the past Etchells and 18ft Skiff world champion and boat designer will work in collaboration with all of the teams as well as commercial commissioner Harvey Schiller in setting the competitive parameters for the event.
He will be required to nominate regatta officials, including a Measurement Committee and umpires, as well as administer the Regatta Officials Fund to a budget agreed by the competitors.
Each team contributes in equal measure to the fund, initially through their entry fees.
Asked will any local umpires/judges officiate at the next America’s Cup and Challenger Series, the Australian Olympic sailor said: “We’ll be working with the teams to look internationally for the best qualified people for the umpiring roles.”
Bermudians Kirk Cooper and Peter Shrubb have both officiated in previous America’s Cups.
Past Royal Bermuda Yacht Club Commodore Shrubb officiated in the 32nd America’s Cup in Valencia, the only other time a syndicate has defended the “Auld Mug” in neutral waters, as will be the case when Oracle Team USA defend their title.