SolidWorks Helps Propel 32nd America's Cup Winners

Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ) and Alinghi were competing in the 2007 America's Cup last week in racing yachts designed using SolidWorks 3D CAD software. A wide range of features on both boats including the hulls, winch mounts, and other deck hardware was designed in SolidWorks to be durable, dependable, and as light as possible in the most demanding of racing conditions.

Taking place off the coast of Valencia, Spain, the 32nd America's Cup features a rematch of the two yachts that competed for the championship in 2003. Switzerland-based Alinghi, the first team to return the Auld Mug trophy to Europe in 152 years, is defending its title against ETNZ, which has competed for the America's Cup four times (winning twice) since 1987. Both teams used SolidWorks to push the limits of hull and keel design within strict America's Cup guidelines.

ETNZ used SolidWorks and COSMOSWorks design analysis software to develop and test new approaches to structural design such as the keel fin, which must support a weight of nearly 20,000 kilograms when the boat is heeled over under a strong wind. "Every stay, eye bolt, and winch must meet exacting standards so the boat performs to its maximum potential," said Grant Dalton, managing director for ETNZ. "SolidWorks and COSMOSWorks let our engineers visualize different concepts and see new ways to make the boat faster."

Shortly after its founding in 2000, Alinghi migrated from 2D drawings to SolidWorks 3D CAD to streamline development of components that require constant innovation to stay ahead of the competition. "SolidWorks had become so widespread in our industry it was important for us to speak the same design language as our suppliers," said Grant Simmer, managing director and design team coordinator for Alinghi. "Our engineers use SolidWorks to design close to the edge so we can get the best performance from every single feature of the boat."

ETNZ won the Louis Vuitton Cup earlier this month to earn the right to challenge Alinghi for the championship. The America's Cup runs from June 23 through July 7. The team that is the first to win five races, wins.

"This is the premier event for yacht racing, and it is a test of tactics, execution, and technology," said Rainer Gawlick, vice president of worldwide marketing for SolidWorks Corporation. "Good luck to both teams as they race toward the Auld Mug this year!"

Emirates Team New Zealand and Alinghi work with authorized SolidWorks' resellers Intercad Pty. Ltd. and e-Systems, respectively, for ongoing software training, implementation, and support.

A little information on the two teams:

  • Alinghi, Defender of the 32nd America's Cup, flies the colors of the Societe Nautique de Geneve, Switzerland. Its partners for the 2007 campaign include UBS and BT Infonet (main partners), as well as Audemars Piguet, SGS, Nespresso, MSC Cruises, Wisekey and North Sails (co-sponsors). For more information, visit the Web site ( ).
  • Team New Zealand won the America's Cup, the world's oldest sporting trophy, in 1995 and successfully defended it in Auckland, New Zealand, in 2000. A Swiss team took the Cup from New Zealand in 2003. Now with sponsorship from the Dubai-based airline Emirates and Toyota New Zealand, the team is preparing for a challenge in Valencia, Spain, in 2007. Two new yachts will be designed and built for the 2007 America's Cup and put through a strenuous testing program. For more information, visit the Web site ( ).

Commentary By Jeffrey Rowe, Editor

It’s the week of the Fourth of July holiday here in the U.S. and the 32nd America's Cup is fast coming to a close. Sailboat racing at any level is a real challenge, and at this level, is extremely complex as a myriad issues come into play, especially weather and sea conditions.

The America’s Cup is a challenge-driven yacht series that involves a best-of-nine series of match racing (a race between two boats). Since the 1992 match, it has been sailed with the International America’s Cup Class (IACC) sloop, a monohull boat that has an average length of about 75 feet (24 m). Any challenger who meets the requirements specified in the Deed of Gift, which governs the regatta, has the right to challenge the yacht club that holds the Cup. Since 1983, Louis Vuitton has sponsored the Louis Vuitton Cup as a prize for the winner of the challenger selection series (which was inaugurated for the 1970 match). The America’s Cup is a race between the winner of the Louis Vuitton Cup and the current holder. If the challenging team wins the cup, the cup’s ownership is transferred from the defender’s yacht club to the winning team’s yacht club.

On November 27, 2003 Alinghi announce it would defend the America’s Cup this year in Valencia, Spain, the first time since the original 1851 Isle of Wight race that the America’s Cup has been held in Europe. The deadline to challenge for the 32nd America’s Cup was April 29, 2005, when 11 challengers from nine countries had submitted formal entries.

The challenger selection series, the Louis Vuitton Cup 2007, began in Valencia in April and concluded on June 6, 2007 after 122 matches. Emirates Team New Zealand won the challenger series and met Alinghi for the final quest for the Cup.

The America’s Cup has always been a marriage of design, technology, and sailing ability. An America’s Cup team is only as good as its boat is fast, and one of the biggest influences on the final design of an America’s Cup boat is the weather that the boat is likely to experience during racing. America’s Cup teams invest a lot of time and money in researching the race course so that they can predict what range of wind and wave conditions they are most likely to encounter while racing. The data is invaluable in helping to understand the venue and to select the correct design so that a boat sails in its sweet spot (where it’s fastest in given conditions).

The boats we see now are what are termed “America’s Cup Class.” This class was first conceived in response to the fiasco of the 1988 America’s Cup mismatch between Dennis Conner’s catamaran and the Kiwi “Big Boat.” To avoid a repeat of the calamity, the America’s Cup Class Rule was written to produce, “wholesome, fast and maneuverable day sailing monohulls of similar performance intended for spectacular match racing in a wide wind range . . . (creating yachts to be) raced around buoys, with tenders present, as opposed to offshore in high wind and rough sea conditions.”

The America’s Cup Class Rule is a complex formula (see below) that trades length, displacement and sail area within general tolerances. In order to gain in one area that would make the resulting yacht design faster, you have to give up something in another area. A designer must trade off these variables, all the while considering the likely wind and sea conditions the boat will be racing in, to come up with the fastest ‘solution’ to the formula. As no two designers will have the same solution, the resulting boats are similar but each will have slightly different performance characteristics and sweet spots.

The Rule is now in its fifth iteration, “turbocharges” the boats for the conditions likely to be encountered in the Mediterranean. So, while there are many changes from the early days in San Diego, many aspects of the America’s Cup Class endure.

L = boat length (meters)

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Review Article
  • October 09, 2008
    Reviewed by 'Richie'
    It is always a pleasure to read what you write. It is easily understood with your choice of words. I wish I could do the same. I learned a lot of what goes on behind the watching of these boats in the water. I'm sure Las Vegas betting is already being done on this next Amerca's Cup Race. Good Write Jeff.

      Was this review helpful to you?   (Report this review as inappropriate)

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