Back to CNN content Sponsored Content by Airbus
© 2016 Cable News Network. Turner Broadcasting System Europe, limited. All Rights Reserved. Terms of service Privacy guidelines Ad choices About us Contact us Work for us Help

The Power of Teamwork

Scroll Down

Meet “17”

Meet “17”, The America’s Cup Defender Yacht With Airbus Technology Embedded

On February 14 2017, when Jimmy Spithill, skipper and helmsman of ORACLE TEAM USA, presented “17” -the yacht entrusted with the team’s hopes for the America’s Cup - there was certainly a sense of pride and achievement within the group of world class engineers and athletes who had worked so hard to deliver it on time. But Jimmy made it clear the work is not over: “We need to get this boat out on the water and put the hours in, getting it ready to race. The long days will continue.”

The result is an incredible racing machine: a foiling, wing-sailed catama- ran with extreme manoeuvrability, capable of reaching speeds approaching 100 km/h.

“These boats are highly-engineered, with complex systems, and built to perform under extreme conditions. It’s a great achievement by our designers, builders and engineers to get us to this point where the race yacht gets handed over to the sailors.” says Grant Simmer, chief operat- V ing officer of ORACLE TEAM USA. 15 designers and over 50 boat-builders have put in more than 85,000 man hours to create this feat of modern sailing technology, and around 30 Airbus engineers and experts have contributed with some of their know-how in fields such as aerodynam- ics, instrumentation and simulation, composites, structures, hydraulics and data analysis, working with the ORACLE TEAM USA design team.

Engineering Excellence

ORACLE TEAM USA and Airbus share not only a vision for peak perfor- mance and engineering excellence, but also much of the technologies that make the boat fly. With hydrofoils li ing the hulls out of the water, and propelled by a wing, this racing yacht has a surprising amount in common with an airplane.

Both Airbus and ORACLE TEAM USA have learned a lot about modelling from the collaboration. The MARES rapid design tool, developed by Airbus in Spain, has provided vital insights into how wing deformation affects aerodynamics - did you know that hydrofoils can bend a stagger- ing 40cm between being at rest and at speed? The sailing team did not have to use MARES for long before they were impressed: “They thought it was so fantastic that they licensed it from us. It's now a core part of their design work,” says Pierre Marie Belleau, Airbus Head of Business Development.

"This partnership has created innovations with potential application for our aircraft,”continues Belleau. The hydrofoils are an example of this: they need to lift the boat out of the water while producing minimum drag, and also withstanding tremendous loads. “Designing them to be as hydro-dynamically efficient and strong as possible, while keeping them lightweight, is essential. The solutions we've proposed to ORACLE TEAM USA are something that is also under consideration potentially for a new aircraft winglet design."

The possibility of teaming up with SMEs (small-and medium-sized companies) in Toulouse has also been a priceless timesaver during the process of perfecting the hydrofoil design options. "It's a fast test-and-fail approach. If something doesn't work, we examine it, change it, and retest it,” says Belleau. “It's a very agile methodology, one that allows for a quick convergence on the best possible designs within the short time frame of an America’s Cup campaign cycle."

A win-win Partnership

The winner of the America’ s Cup, to be held in June of 2017 in Bermuda, has yet to be determined, and, in sports, nothing is certain. There is still work to do to perfect the vessel that ORACLE TEAM USA hopes will lead them to glory (a third consecutive win a er 2010 and 2013). But what is already certain is that both teams enjoyed significant victories in this collaboration. Not only has it been an amazing experience for the people involved, but it has also yielded valuable technology that means both parties will emerge stronger.

“What we at Airbus get out of this collaboration is to go faster and test new ideas. We get to use our technology in a different manner, and we may be able to use [the lessons] on our aircra structures, systems and instrumentation,” says Charles Champion, Executive Vice President of Engineering at Airbus. “Our DNA is in this boat. We make it fly! As both [Airbus and ORACLE TEAM USA] come together with our experience, we can win the America’ s Cup.”

Back to Top