Cup Runneth Over

December 20, 2002

in General Interest

From the NZ Herald and various sources. The America’s Cup is known for innovative breaking of rules, tough competition and billionaires. What’s less known round the world is where the innovation comes from. New Zealand yacht racing is a worthy study, for the NZ skippers, team leadership (Russell Coutts – Allengi, Chris Dickson – Oracle and Dean Barker TeamNZ) and the technology that bubbles out from the latest in hulls and spars to wireless heads up displays on Oracle. Here sweeping changes of logic can make huge differences. Revisiting ideas given up on earlier may find new life.

17bighullgraphic.gif Team New Zealand’s new boats uses a ‘false hull’ to increase the effective sailing length and, therefore, the boat’s potential speed.

Some suggest that being allowed to design a basic hull that looks less powerful, and then attaching a second underwater skin that restores not only full power but extra power, means the Kiwi yacht should have an unassailable advantage.

It’s been hard to the keep secret and so they are not now alone. Alinghi’s false hull is in trial and it looks like Oracle is ready to follow. Note: With the exception of Alinghi’s mast – Alinghi, Oracle and OneWorld all used New Zealand boatbuilders and Southern Spars.

We’d probably find more innovations if we looked on board. “It is a heads-up display, it is a wireless connection to the instruments,” Doyle said. “I sit in the back of the boat and I struggle to see the instruments through bodies. This has a tiny screen I can put down and call up different readouts.” Michael Schumacher has one too. In the last cup match the Kiwi’s constant chatter using “receiver based” communication led to smooth sailing and quick wins.

There’s a lot to be learned from these small innovative teams. They are working with millions, getting results and changing the rules everyday. Then TeamNZ is working with even less…. and doing more! That’s attitude – and what we all should be doing.

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