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Southern Spars - North Technology

America's Cup- Emirates Team NZ signs with Dell and launches new boat

by Richard Gladwell on 13 Jul 2011
Emirates Team NZ - SL33 - 13 July, 2011 © Richard Gladwell

Emirates Team New Zealand have announced a partnership with US based multinational, technology company Dell computers.

The team will be looking to make up one of the 'holes' in its 2007 America’s Cup campaign – which was in the area of applied technology, which by the estimate of CEO, Grant Dalton, cost the team about 10 seconds a leg in that event.

Emirates Team New Zealand were beaten by Defender Alinghi in the final race of that regatta by just one second.

The partnership with Dell will extend to providing the technology grunt for the design and data analysis process for the AC72 catamarans, the first of which can be launched in July 2012.

The second leg of the relationship will be to provide a full online presence for the team using social media, such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. That development is not covered by the Protocol governing the America’s Cup which controversially requires all teams to have their sole web presence on the website. Social media are exempt from this provision.

Emirates Team New Zealand now regards itself as a 'brand' which needs to be able to position itself into what it wants to be for a given set of campaigns (currently the team is competing in Extreme 40’s, Volvo Ocean Race, America’s Cup World Series and the 34th America’s Cup). It will use the social media to shape its public perception to stay in tune with all the campaigns. It will use a second partner RD2 to drive this innovation.

The assistance from Dell will closely parallel the technology it provides to the Lotus Formula 1 team, and will be centralised around what is claimed to be the single largest privately owned computer in New Zealand which will be housed at MaxNet, in Albany, due to the power, heat and networking constraints – which are not feasible to replicate in the teams Halsey Street base, where the 30 strong design and performance teams are based.

Design team leader, Nick Holroyd explained that the technology would enable the team to move further away from the traditional tank testing methods and into a more virtual design world, where previously three aerodynamic models could be run per day, now those runs will increase to 24 per day – enabling more options to be run.

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That will be critical around the middle of 2012, when the first AC72 is launched and the first real sailing data becomes available, and design options will have to be quickly worked through in order to be incorporated in the second AC72, which will, have to start construction soon after the launch of the first.

Already the team has been undertaking some prototyping work in conjunction with Dell, running programs at Cambridge University, England using a facility to which Dell have access. That footprint will be bought back to Auckland and used to develop the full design programs by a 30 strong design team.

However the bulk of the technology will come from Dell’s Solutions Group based in Austin Texas.

Today was also the opportunity for Emirates Team NZ to show off its two 33ft catamarans, the SL33, which will form the heart of its two boat testing program – effectively using just under half scale models.

Today was the first occasion for the testing to start in earnest, which will start with calibrating the instrumentation and performance alignment. Once that process is complete and the design team is satisfied that a change made on one boat will be accurately reflected in the captured data, then the process of testing design options can begin.

Part of that process is thought to be the development of a three element wingsail which will be used on the larger AC72 class.

The team now has several classes of catamaran at its Auckland and others bases including singlehanded A-class catamarans – used to get monohull sailors used to sailing multihulls.

The team also races Extreme 40 one design – used in a short-course regatta circuit. Just packed into the container for shipping to Europe is the teams AC45 to be used on the America’s cup World series. The SL33’s will form the foundation of the teams multihull training until the launch of the second AC72 in 2013.

Even though the team’s first AC72 will be launched in July 2012, it cannot under America’s Cup Protocol be sailed for more than 30 days in the six months remaining in 2012.

Under America’s Cup rules the only catamarans other than AC72’s that can be sailed by the teams are AC45’s. However legally those are a one design class, with very strict rules, and they cannot be moved out of AC45 mode, without infringing the Surrogate Boat rule which is part of the rules for the 34th America’s Cup and is designed as a cost restriction measure.

The only legal catamarans that can be sailed by teams are those less than 10metres in length, and the SL33, design by two of Emirates Team NZ’s designers, ,Morelli Melvin, is just under that length limit.

Even so two more AC45’s are said to be under construction at the Cookson yard in Auckland, whether they are being acquired by a new team, or an existing team, is not known at this stage.

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