Please select your home edition
Edition
Zhik Isotak Ocean

America's Cup- First images of the AC45 construction at Warkworth

by Richard Gladwell on 16 Sep 2010
AC45 male mould under construction - BMW Oracle Racing building facility - Warkworth © Richard Gladwell http://www.richardgladwell.com

BMW Oracle Racing look to be set to put the sleepy northern Auckland town of Warkworth on the technology map with the establishment of a new hi-tech boatbuilding facility that will employ between 50-70 people.

The new facility to be known as Core Composites is off to a flying start with the production of the new America's Cup 45 class of catamaran, but will be also supplying to other boat builders and users of composite components.

Based in the old Rodney and Waitemata Times production facility, previously a major employer in the area, the building has plenty of open floor area and high ceilings – ideal for some of the big gear either already installed or on order.

Already one five axis machining centre is installed - which will handle a component of 6metres x 3 metres by 1.5 metres. Kerry Jones, who is in charge of the machining at Core Composites describes it as 'the Baby'. But it is the biggest machine of its type in New Zealand.


A second 'Monster'machining centre will take components up to 26 metres in length.

'We have these two five axis CNC machining centers, a CNC lathe and some other equipment basically to handle the capacity that we have rather than outsourcing all the parts that we do for the rigging', explains Jones.

'We probably will outsource some specialised components – when it comes to America’s Cup boats we will have to do the hulls in America. That is in the Protocol', explains Chief Operating Officer, Stephen Barclay.

The grand scheme is to be able to build all components for the AC45 class on site and thanks to some liberal rules in the new Protocol for the 34th America’s Cup, only the hulls of the BMW Oracle Racing’s AC72 yachts need be constructed in the USA. A special team will be sent from New Zealand to USA to do this.

The AC72 wingsail, foils and all other components can be manufactured in the Warkworth facility.


'We have the capability to do everything,' adds Jones, turning to the big five axis machining centre, which he refers to as 'the Baby'.

'This is the smaller one of the two that we have', explains Jones. 'It has a tilting rotary head so we have full five axis of movement on the head and a 6-meter stroke by 3-meter by 1.5 meter on the Z axis. '

Think of three dimensional drawings with width depth and height ('X', 'Y' and 'Z' dimensions) and you have an idea of the composite engineering art forms these machines can produce.

'It is the only one of its kind in New Zealand at the moment,' says Jones. 'We are getting a bigger one which is going in what we call the boat shed (really a huge two or three level room the size of a warehouse).

'This one will fit on the table of the big one', explains Jones to underline the size of the new beast.


'It is designed for the aerospace industry, and making spar component parts, it is quite widely used by Boeing and companies like that. It can machine up turbine blades, and not just marine stuff, but also automotive and aerospace components,' he adds.

'The machine are going to be used for doing a lot of the mould work for the composite construction', explains Barclay. 'We get the designs from the design crew and then we convert that into cutting files and then we basically supply all the mould components to the boat builders.

'In the past we would have to an outside company to get tooling and components made. That cost a fortune and you are beholden to the outside companies in terms of timing and things like that.


'By having these machines in-house we can do all of that stuff ourselves. Of course over time we can amortise the cost of it, so if we have a long-term use it will actually be cheaper for us to be able to handle this capability in-house. '

As mentioned 'the Baby' can handle components measuring 6-meter by 3-meter by 1.5 meter.

And the big one?

'The big machine is going to be 26-meter long by 6-meter by 3.5 metres' says Jones, drooling ever so slightly.

Barclay explains that 'the Beast' is going to be hitting a roof in the boat shed. 'It will be 9-meter high. It is a massive machine that can basically machine a whole boat - the whole hull. It will take up most of this shed - with a sail-loft at the other end.'



BMW Oracle Racing purchased the facility about 18 months ago

'The ambition and reason why we did it was that the team has aspirations of being around for a long time . We spent so much money to finish products around the world so that is really the reason for doing it, it actually saves us money. And of course, we can guarantee the quality which for any big team is really important,' explains Barclay.

About 50-70 boat builders will be employed at Core Composites, the reason for the shift to New Zealand is that the labour costs are less and the skills and engineering expertise are high. 'We are looking at working with a lot of New Zealand’s resource to help us with the AC 45 project and we are actively talking to a number of contracting companies at the moment', says Barclay.

Another plus for the Warkworth facility is that it allows the storage of an enormous amount of kit. 'When you have been an America’s Cup Team in operation since 1990, you acquire a lot of gear', explains Barclay resignedly. 'It will be good to see what we really have in the one place.'


Construction is well advanced with the male moulds for the AC 45 class of which six are expected to be sailing by mid-2011. The first will be launched in January 2011. Each competing team in the 34th America's Cup will own at least one of the yachts, maybe two. The wingsails for the AC45's will also be built in Warkworth on the same floor.

Right now the focus of Core Composites is to get the AC45’s into production.

'It will be America’s Cup Race Management and the yet to be appointed Regatta Director’s responsibility to determine who gets their boats first, and overseeing the training program we are looking to put in place before Christmas,' says Barclay.


'The idea is that all the teams can come down and learn about these, and learn about sailing the boats and learn about the logistics of the wing – all that sort of stuff.

'It is the Regatta director’s job to make sure that all the teams are handled in a way that is fair and equitable.'

'We are certainly up and running.'

Barz Optics - San Juan Worlds Best EyewearBakewell-White Yacht DesignInSunSport - NZ

Related Articles

America's Cup - Arbitration Panel Hearing over Kiwi Qualifier for July
ACEA CEO, Russell Coutts has confirmed that the Arbitration Panel will hold its first Hearing in July. In a yet to be published interview in Sail-World, America’s Cup Events Authority CEO, Russell Coutts has confirmed that the Arbitration Panel will hold its first Hearing in July. This is the first official indication that the three person Arbitration Panel had even been formed, however Sail-World’s sources indicated that it had been empanelled since last January, possibly earlier.
Posted on 27 May
Rio 2016 - The Qualification Games - Part 2
Yachting NZ's refusal to nominate in three classes won in the first round of 2016 Olympic Qualification is unprecedented Yachting New Zealand's refusal to nominate in three classes won in the first round of 2016 Olympic Qualification is without precedent. Subject to Appeal, the Kiwis have signaled that they will reject 30% of the positions gained in the ISAF World Sailing Championships in Santander in 2014.
Posted on 22 May
Gladwell's Line - World Sailing changes tack after IOC windshift
Over the past year, we've given the International Sailing Federation (now re-badged as World Sailing) a bit of stick Over the past year, we've given the International Sailing Federation (now re-badged as World Sailing) a bit of stick. Every blow well earned over issues such as the pollution at Rio, the Israeli exclusion abomination plus a few more. But now World Sailing is getting it right.
Posted on 21 May
Rio 2016 - The Qualification Games - Part 1
Antipodean selection shenanigans aside, the Qualification system for the Rio Olympics appears to be achieving its goals Antipodean selection shenanigans aside, the Qualification system for the Rio Olympics appears to be achieving goals set in the Olympic Commission report of 2010. Around 64 countries are expected to be represented in Rio de Janeiro in August. That is a slight increase on Qingdao and Weymouth, but more importantly a full regional qualification system is now in place
Posted on 19 May
Taming the beast-a conversation with Stuart Meurer of Parker Hannifin
While AC72 cats were fast, they difficult to control, so Oracle partnered with Parker Hannifin to innovate a better way. If you watched videos of the AC72s racing in the 34th America’s Cup (2013), you’re familiar with the mind-boggling speeds that are possible when wingsail-powered catamarans switch from displacement sailing to foiling mode. While foiling is fast, there’s no disguising the platform’s inherent instability. Now, Oracle Team USA has teamed up with Parker Hannifin to innovate a better way.
Posted on 18 May
From foiling Moths to Olympic starting lines-a Q&A with Bora Gulari
Bora Gulari’s is representing the USA at the Rio 2016 Olympics in the Nacra 17 class, along with teammate Louisa Chafee. Bora Gulari (USA) has made a strong name for himself within high-performance sailing circles, with wins at the 2009 and 2013 Moth Worlds. In between, he broke the 30-knort barrier and was the 2009 US SAILING Rolex Yachtsman of the Year. His latest challenge is representing the USA at the Rio 2016 Olympics in the Nacra 17 class as skipper, along with his teammate Louisa Chafee.
Posted on 12 May
Concern for Zika at Rio Olympics is now deadly serious
Alphabet soup is one description that has thus far not been used for either Guanabara Bay, Alphabet soup is one description that has thus far not been used for either Guanabara Bay, or the Rio Olympics. Many others have, and they were apt, but things have changed. So here now we have a situation where one man, Associate Professor Amir Attaran, who does have a more than decent string of letters after his name, is bringing nearly as many facts to bear as references at the article's end
Posted on 12 May
The importance of being Alive
Since buying the stunningly pretty Reichel-Pugh canting keel 66-footer, and re-naming her Alive, Since buying the stunningly pretty Reichel-Pugh canting keel 66-footer, and re-naming her Alive, the team have lined up for a lot of things, won plenty and nabbed a record, as well. She’s presently in a yard in the Philippines having a minor refit in readiness for the Australian season. It will commence with the upcoming Brisbane to Keppel and then head sharply into this year’s Hobart.
Posted on 10 May
Zhik - The brand born of a notion, not its history
here is probably every reason that ocean rhymes with notion. Zhik’s tagline is officially marketed as Made For Water There is probably every reason that ocean rhymes with notion. Zhik’s tagline has been officially marketed as Made For Water, and this is precisely what the company has done for the last eight years before the succinct and apt strapline came from out of R&D and into mainstream visibility.
Posted on 8 May
Shape of next Volvo Ocean Race revealed at Southern Spars - Part 1
Southern Spars has been confirmed as the supplier of spars for the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race. In mid-April, Race Director, Jack Lloyd and Stopover Manager Richard Mason outlined the changes expected for the 40,000nm Race during a tour of Southern Spars 10,000sq metre specialist spar construction facility. A total of up to seven boats is expected to enter, but time is running out for the construction of any new boats.
Posted on 3 May