In April, Eurolarge Innovation posted a Bretagne Sailing Valley® online TechTalk offering a technical appraisal of the America’s Cup with the designer Guillaume Verdier, member of the design team of the winner of the 36th edition, Emirates Team New Zealand, the engineer Dimitri Despierres, in charge of systems for the American Magic design team and Gautier Sergent, Managing Director of North Sails France and member of the design team for Ineos Team UK.
Online Techtalk # 3 : what is the technical appraisal of the outcome of the America’s Cup?
The three guests began by drawing up a positive overall appraisal of the 36th America’s Cup which featured a new class of boat, which initially left quite a few people feeling sceptical, but which finally offered a “fairly tight Cup with more match-racing than we all thought there would be beforehand,” said Dimitri Despierres. “We weren’t that sure it would work, but the magic of match racing was certainly there,” explained Guillaume Verdier.
Each guest explained the major difficulties they had to face in their particular field: the designer talked about “the extremely complicated mechanics of the foils,” and “the countless solutions in terms of the rig,” before adding, “Once you start going down one track, you have to go all the way.” Gautier Sergent confirmed that talking about ‘the complexity of finding the right balance in terms of the rig, a hybrid arrangement between a wing and a sail.” The Head of North Sails France added, “We could have gone for a simplified wing or a sophisticated sail.”
As for the systems, Dimitri Despierres stressed that with the foils, “the challenge was to develop an efficient system to ensure the stability of the boat when flying, but we also needed to fit these systems into the smallest space possible to reduce the drag from the appendages.” The engineer from American Magic was in any case “delighted to have worked on the new class rules.” This pushed all of the teams beyond their limits according to Gautier Sergent. “We brought innovation back to the Cup, which is more or less its role. We all ended up worn out and this edition was incredibly intense.”
Guillaume Verdier was indeed impressed by the ability of the various groups within the same team to end up agreeing and “playing a piece of music without any hint of a bum note,” even though he admits he enjoys working with smaller teams, particularly at the start of the design process. “What is very important is designing in small groups and then to delegate responsibility.”The French designer reminded us of the key role taken on by the sailors: “We talk a lot about the design work, but the sailors were incredible. Their ability to get to grips with the technical difficulties was a key factor in terms of performance. There were lots of discussions at every level within Team New Zealand.”
Dimitri Despierres also stressed the importance of “the human factor which is still very present”, explaining, “We manage to work with groups from very different backgrounds to help develop things to a very high level. I find this emulation quite extraordinary.”
The latter questioned about the major innovation in this 36thCup, spoke about the simulator, “a tool which enabled time to be saved in terms of the design, but which also enabled many different work groups to talk to each other.” Guillaume Verdier mentioned the role of “data collection”, which enabled “the teams to examine what was going on beneath the water with sometimes a huge difference between reality and what we imagined.”
As for the sails, Gautier Sergent believed that “the concept of the double skin worked,” believing that this Cup was very enlightening for manufacturers. “In this edition we had to deal with weight constraints and very high loads. That led to us to develop new solutions in terms of the structures of the sails. These ideas may be applied to other fast boats, such as the Imocas and Ultim multihulls.”