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America's Cup: Alinghi Red Bull Racing's Marcelino Botin on the Swiss team's approach

by Marcelino Botin/Alinghi Red Bull Racing 5 Oct 14:47 PDT 6 October 2022
Alinghi Red Bull Racing's AC75 sailing off Barcelona 5 October 2022 © Alex Carabi/America's Cup

Alinghi Red Bull Racing is, before anything else, a team. A group of passionate people working together towards one goal: winning the America’s Cup

It’s a big responsibility to lead the design for such a legendary team that has won the America’s Cup twice, and even more so after partnering with Red Bull and benefiting from the knowledge of Red Bull Advanced Technologies. I work on hydro and aerodynamics on a daily basis, but my broader role is to keep an eye on the whole project, from a design point of view. This job has evolved a lot over time. Previously, we were designing boats; now these boats are closer to planes. I have been part of the industry for a long time and have followed this transition closely, adding the aerodynamics to the design.

But that is not the only thing that has changed in the boat design. When I started, there were three or four times more sailors than designers, now the balance has shifted. The design team has become bigger. The most important thing of all is to hire people that can work in a group, not as individuals. These people are the key to success, as well as failure. This is even more important when working under pressure, as timing is key. And there is never enough. Our competitors are one campaign ahead of us. We don’t have the AC75 experience they have, but our team’s strength lies in the talent that we have assembled and the strong and positive atmosphere that we work in.

It’s so interesting, every day we work on something different. We challenge the process, we’re challenged, we push the limits. A topic that Red Bull Advanced Technologies knows well. Their high-performance vehicle engineering group supports us with its engineering and design expertise derived from competing in Formula 1, the world’s fastest development cycle. Many aspects can be exported from Formula 1 to the America’s Cup. At the beginning of the campaign, alongside RBAT, we identified areas that they could help us with, and since then, have been improving the collaboration across many projects that are evolving successfully. We collaborate with them on a regular basis.. Ultimately they are all part of our project and it’s exciting to listen to them, to learn from them and to work with them. Many elements come together in the design of such a boat.

One of these elements is the sailors’ input. We encourage their participation in our meetings, and we try to join them as often as possible. On the simulator, on the boat, and on the chase boats that are usually packed with designers. Now that they’ve started sailing BoatZero, their feedback is extremely important for the design of our race boat. At the end of the day, the sailors need to be happy with the product we are creating!

Design Coordinator Adolfo Carrau oversees the different areas of design that are led by the following team members: Steven Robert, structural engineer lead, Gautier Sergent, sail designer lead, Joseph Ozanne, simulator lead, Nicolas Bailey, foil designer, and Gonzalo Redondo, foil and hull designer. From a global perspective the most important strength of any design group is how the whole team works together.

When I walk into the office and overhear the designers sharing ideas with colleagues from all the other departments, I know we are working in the right direction. Each of them has a key role in our success. The America’s Cup seems far away, but we are now at an essential moment of our campaign, gathering as much data as possible from the boat, the simulator and all our design tools. Developing a design concept around this information that is competitive in the conditions that we will race in is crucial for the success of the campaign.

The countdown is on!

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