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New York Yacht Club American Magic: Data Driven

by Will Ricketson, NYYC American Magic 9 Nov 2020 22:44 PST
Patriot, American Magic's second AC75 foiling monohull, practices on the Hauraki Gulf in New Zealand, site of the 36th America's Cup next March © Will Ricketson

A strong argument could be made that the most important word in the modern America's Cup is "data".

After years of design, production and fitting-out work, each day of sailing on an AC75 represents a crucial opportunity for a team to evaluate its progress and improve. Terabytes of information pour into servers as systems are relentlessly tested.

It takes a special combination of skill, inventiveness, and cool under pressure to manage the flow of priceless data from the boat's sensors to the team's analysis tools. From those tools come refined schematics for builders, lessons for sailors, and a better chance of winning.

American Magic Instrumentation Engineer Elvira Llabres manages the team's data flow on and off the water. Before the AC75 goes sailing each day, dozens of systems, instruments and sensors need to be activated, calibrated, and checked. On the water, Elvira's usual perch is on Chase 2, American Magic's mighty four-engined performance support craft. Chase 2 bristles with monitors, specialists and KVH telecommunications gear, and is the hub of the team's improvement process.

From Chase 2, Elvira monitors data coming off the race boat in real time. While traveling at high speeds alongside the AC75, she can flag anomalies, fix problems as they occur, and identify potential breakthroughs. Onshore, Elvira ensures that each day's information haul is organized, uploaded and distributed to each department on the 150-strong team.

"Being part of something this big is really challenging, and really something that motivates me," said Elvira, now in her 5th America's Cup campaign after starting her career at IBM. "I think I'm very lucky, combining my passions. Seeing that we are improving, day by day, makes it for me."

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