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America's Cup- Defender names design team nucleus ahead of new Rule

by Richard Gladwell, Sail-World.com/nz on 7 Feb 2014
Oracle showing their clean under-body design. - America’s Cup Chuck Lantz © http://www.ChuckLantz.com

The America’s Cup Defenders, Oracle Team USA, have announced an 18 strong design team nucleus ahead of the 35th America's Cup.

The team includes two designers poached from Emirates Team NZ - both are US nationals.

In turn, two NZ designers, Kevin Burrows and Asim Khan, with the US team for the 2013 America's Cup campaign are not amongst those listed today.

The US team has made much of the nationality of the team, of whom 11 are returning from the previous campaign. That is the same number of US nationals in the design nucleus, which inflated to a team of about 30 designers for the last campaign.

'We’ve collected a talented group of designers for this campaign and a majority of them are American,' says Australian Grant Simmer in the team's media statement.

Simmer returns as General Manager of Oracle Team USA. 'We have a good mix of experience and expertise across the disciplines where we think the design challenge for this next America’s Cup will be contested.'

Among the returnees from previous campaigns, wing design manager Scott Ferguson (USA) is back for a third successive America’s Cup with Oracle Team USA. A collegiate All-American sailor, Ferguson has 30 years of design experience and is an expert in masts, spars, and now wing sails.

'It’s exciting to be back and trying for three in a row with Oracle Team USA,' Ferguson said. 'We know this is going to be a big challenge as the competition is always getting better. We’ll be working to a new class rule again with more constraints, but there should be a plenty of scope for innovation.'

Among those new to the team are Len Imas (USA) and Hal Youngren (USA), who worked with Emirates Team New Zealand during the previous Cup, contributing to the design of a Kiwi boat that came within an ace of winning.

Hal Youngren has been an Aerodynamic Optimisation/CFD Consultant to US aircraft and aerospace industry specialising in aerodynamics and aircraft design. He undertook aerodynamics design and development support for Alinghi America’s Cup challenges in 2003 and their unsuccessful multihull defence in 2010.

Len Imas underook hydrodynamic and aerodynamic modelling and optimisation analysis for 32nd and 33rd America’s Cups and Volvo Ocean Race projects. He has previously worked for three America’s Cup teams as well as aerodynamic modelling analysis for North Sails Performance Racing Group. Dr Imas also has an academic role with the prestigious Stevens Institute (USA) as an Associate professor specialising in computational hydrodynamics.

'It’s still amazing to think that the final was so close, and that it all came down to one last race,' Imas said. 'Now, it’s great to sit down with these guys, learn what they were thinking and to start work again with the new team.'

A surprise omission from the line-up is top structural engineer Dirk Kramers (USA) whose America's Cup experience extends back into the 12 Metre era. He is highly regarded in multihull circles.

The Oracle Team USA design team met as a group for the first time in San Francisco this week and is awaiting the release of the new America’s Cup Class Rule next month.

'In many ways, the release of the design rule is the starting gun for the 35th America’s Cup,' said Simmer. 'From that moment on, the clock is ticking towards the start of race one, and time which is your most precious currency in these campaigns, starts to get spent. We need to be ready to work from day one and spend our time wisely.'

The Oracle Team USA design team nucleus for the 35th America’s Cup:

Paul Bieker (USA), Dimitri Despierres (FRA), Len Imas (USA), Hal Youngren (USA), Aaron Perry (USA), Bryan Baker (USA), Juan Vila (ESP), Scott Ferguson (USA), Christophe Elberding (GER), Thomas Hann (GER), Steven Roberts (FRA), Jose Luis Vela (ESP), Tom Speer (USA), Eric Jolley (USA), Andrew Gaynor (USA), Ian Burns (AUS), JB Braun (USA), Kurt Jordan (USA)

The new Class Rule is expected to be announced in March, maybe with the new Protocol. Venue for the Cup is expected to be announced later, once the tortuous negotiations with San Francisco have been completed.


Earlier this week , the US team also announced the re-signing of skipper Jimmy Spithill. The crew is expected to reduce to about eight sailors in the new Protocol, who will sail a 60-65ft catamaran, which is expected to achieve similar speeds to the AC72.

Last month it was announced by Swedish challenger Artemis Racing that it had snaped up Thiha Win, a mechanical systems engineer with Emirates Team NZ. The team has made no comment on the two latest losses, however it is operating on a limited funding basis until a decision is made whether to lodge a Challenge for the 35th America's Cup.

Emirates Team NZ's Managing Director, Grant Dalton is currently in Europe.

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