Bermuda at the leading edge of technology The America’s Cup has found a uniquely hospitable home in Bermuda and next year’s event promises to be an exciting race in a phenomenal location First contested in 1851, the America’s Cup is today’s yachting’s most coveted prize. The trophy dates back to the Great Exhibition of 1851, organised at Crystal Palace in London by Prince Albert to showcase British technology and excellence to the world. A syndicate of businessmen from New York sailed the schooner America across the Atlantic Ocean to represent the United States at the World’s Fair. As the schooner America passed the Royal Yacht in first position and saluted by dipping its ensign three times, Queen Victoria asked one of her attendants to tell her who was in second place. “Your Majesty, there is no second,” came the reply. That phrase, “There is no second,” is still the best way to represent the America’s Cup’s singular pursuit of excellence. In the more than 160 years since that first race off England, only four countries – the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Switzerland – have experienced the euphoria of winning the ‘Auld Mug’ and only eight cities have hosted the competition. Aiming to continue to perpetually foster friendly competition between foreign countries, the last winner, Team Oracle, chose Bermuda as the home of the America’s Cup until the races in 2017. Bermuda, a first-time host, is an island founded on a legacy of sailing. The last few years have seen the various teams design and build their own America’s Cup Class (ACC) boats, which they will use in 2017. While the 50 feet-long catamarans are built to a design rule, there is an allowance for designers and engineers to infuse creativity in their designs. Throughout its history, the America’s Cup has been driven by technology. The 34th edition of the America’s Cup in 2013 marked a transformation for the oldest trophy in international sport with new wing sail foiling catamarans, cutting-edge technology and a close-to-shore venue. It is therefore no surprise that this sport, with its high demand on the tools and equipment and ever-further reaches into technological prowess, is providing a premier testing ground for technology. One of the America’s Cup teams, Artemis Racing, is a professional sailing team founded in 2006 by businessman and sailor Torbjörn Törnqvist. Artemis Racing values the environment where its bases are located and the waters where its boats sail, and that sustainability orientation comes from the team’s heritage: Sweden is a country where the environment is of high priority and where the development of technology in the area is advanced. “For more than 150 years, the America’s Cup has been at the forefront of yachting technology and the 35th edition in Bermuda is taking development to the very limit of what is possible”, says Peter Bentley, one of the engineers working on the foiling fifty-footer that the team will sail in the Cup races next May. This upcoming America’s Cup is only Artemis Racing’s second, but the team is determined to take it home to Sweden for the first time. To do that, with a team composed of several Olympic medalists and world champions, it is relying on its designers and engineers to use creativity, innovation, and new ways of thinking in order to build and sail the fastest boat through the undeniable power of technological innovation. Peter says that his group is composed of highly-competent members trained across the spectrum of nautical activity: aerodynamics, structural engineering, computational flow of dynamics (CFD), and fluid structure interaction (FSI), to name but a few. Basing its research, development, and design on a continuous improvement loop, the team builds on technological advances seen not just in their sport, but also in other areas such as aeronautics, Formula 1, and even the military. This loop ensures that the team’s technology, which is using highly-sophisticated software, much of it proprietary, enables them to reach limits that only three years ago would have been unthinkable. This loop also ensures that before they reach the end-user, commercially-available products have been designed and tested in an extremely demanding environment by elite teams and proven to be high-performance items that are safe and durable. Peter also explains that technology at America’s Cup is not limited to the physical design and build of the catamarans used for training and for the races, or to the survival system, clothing, and gear used by the teams. It also extends to other components of the event, including the actual boundary of the race. That crucial piece of information is only sent to the teams - electronically, of course - a few minutes before the race begins. The virtual boundary is then not only downloaded onto their onboard data systems but also on the team members’ personal PDAs so that they may monitor their position on the course and their proximity to the boundary in real-time throughout the race. Off the boat, America’s Cup’s teams are just as technologically progressive and impressively skilled at using real-time data loads and analysis. Every day, as they train for the big event - now less than a year away - each team captures data from their sailors and boat and scrutinizes it for a thorough debrief the next day. Also on a daily basis, the training and nutrition régimes are programmed by trainers and tailored to each team member according to his individual needs, progress, and personal role on the team. Here’s where technology once again comes into play: the sailors, while training, use wearables that provide feedback data to their trainer, who are able to download it and look at each sailor’s activity and heart rate in real time. That dataset is studied and used to tailor the fitness plans of that specific sailor. And there is no deadline to stop innovation; no timeline for creativity: new ideas are consistently tested, modelled, presented, and manufactured. The teams have workshops on base for just that purpose: from paint to manufacturing, hydraulics, and electronics, R&D is an on-going process and the search for incremental progress is open-ended. The America’s Cup is an elite sailing contest that is imbued in science and technology. The sailors provide quite the show of strength, meticulousness and speed as they perform well-choreographed movements that show impressive precision. The yachts are among the most technically-advanced in the world and their daggerboards have almost doubled speeds since their recent introduction. Bermuda is the right place for the America’s Cup. It is an island known for its innovation in good and lean times, for its deeply-rooted sailing tradition, and for the ease with which it greets new challenges. The America’s Cup has found a uniquely hospitable home in the Island and next year’s event promises to be an exciting race in a phenomenal location.
Bermuda is the right place for the America’s Cup. It is an island known for its innovation in good and lean times, for its deeply-rooted sailing tradition, and for the ease with which it greets new challenges