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It’s all systems go for AC35

March 22, 2017


We are now in the last few months before the 35th America’s Cup and while there are still many things to prepare before the main event, all six teams have crossed a major milestone — launching their America’s Cup Class yachts.

The first team to launch was Land Rover BAR early last month at their new base in Dockyard. The British team combined the boat launch with the opening of their base and the 11th Hour Racing Exploration Zone.

“It’s a great moment to see our AC50 Race boat hit the water in Bermuda,” Sir Ben Ainslie, the BAR skipper, said. “The launch represents the sum of all the team’s efforts to bring the America’s Cup home, and we’re delighted to get her in the water here in Bermuda.”

The boat — called R1 or Rita — was christened by Sir Ben’s wife Georgie.

Oracle Team USA was the next team to unveil its AC Class yacht — 17 — on Valentine’s Day — seven years to the day that the team first won the America’s Cup.

At the event, Jimmy Spithill, the Oracle Team USA skipper, said: “This is the boat we’re racing to win the America’s Cup. I’m really proud of this team and what we’ve achieved so far. I’d like to thank the design team, the engineering team, the shore support, and our full boatbuilding team, including the guys who couldn’t be here. They’ve made an incredible racing machine.”

Artemis Racing was up next with the launch of Magic Blue at their Morgan’s Point base. The boat was officially christened by Natalia Törnqvist, owner Torbjörn Törnqvist’s wife.

“It’s very exciting, rolling out the boat today,” said Nathan Outteridge, the Artemis skipper, at the time. “It’s been a long time coming! We’ve had two development boats over the last couple of years, testing various foils and systems, and what we’ve launched today is the result of everything we’ve learnt.

“We’ll get to go sailing on it very soon and then we’ll be racing it for real in a few months.”

Emirates Team New Zealand christened their boat in Auckland. The biggest difference in the yacht is the cycling grinding system the team is using to produce the energy to power the hydraulic systems throughout the boat.

“It’s been a challenge to get to this point, and the first sailing has been a very special moment for the entire team,” Glenn Ashby, the Emirates skipper, said. “The next few months of sailing and development with our race boat will be some of the most important in this America’s Cup. We’ll do a month of intensive testing here in Auckland, then we will suspend the test programme and move to Bermuda where we will resume our training until racing starts on May 26.”

SoftBank Team Japan unveiled their brand new America’s Cup Class race yacht Hikari at their Dockyard base. Shinto Priest Kai Guji, who travelled from Kagoshima, Japan for the naming, performed a Japanese Oharai purification ceremony for the new boat using special talismans collected from several different Shinto shrines to bless the sailors, the yacht and the weather.

“It certainly helps to have a year of sailing in Bermuda under us and at the Cup it’ll feel like we’re sailing at home,” Dean Barker, the Team Japan skipper, said.

“We’ll have a much better understanding of what to expect and the three teams who were based here will hopefully have an advantage over the other three.”

Finally, Groupama Team France launched their yacht earlier this week at their new base in Dockyard in front of 50 members of the team.

At the event Franck Cammas, the Team France skipper, said: “A bit of emotion around today. It’s fantastic. Congratulations to the whole team. Everyone’s put in a huge amount of work with regards to the numerous details, with many long hours over recent months.

“Right now, we, the sailors, will have a bit of pressure on our shoulders to get the best-possible use out of this fine bit of kit provided by the designers and the entire technical team.”

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Minute with Mikaela – Team Boat Launches

Local Telecommunications Companies meet America’s Cup demand

Local telecommunications companies are geared up for America’s Cup by increasing Bermuda’s mobile phone, data and internet capacity and all providers are confident that Bermuda’s telecommunications services will be robust and will exceed consumer demand.

It is anticipated that spectators, race participants, and all associated partner activity during the America’s Cup event in May and June will consume as much international data as Bermuda normally does in an entire year.

This data is from forecast modelling conducted by the ACBDA Telecommunications Committee, tasked with ensuring sufficient telecoms infrastructure on island during the largest international sporting event that Bermuda has ever hosted.

Telecommunications Committee Chair, Fiona Beck, says “We will be ready for the America’s Cup, and we are ready for the new Bermuda. So much has been done, that this of course improves the infrastructure for Bermuda’s long term benefit.” Here’s what’s being done.

  1. New internet and fiber connectivity,
  2. Increased cellular coverage and capacity,
  3. New Wi-Fi,
  4. New submarine cables to improve local resiliency and increased capacity on diverse international submarine cables,

Bermuda relies on two main cables to the mainland USA for internet connectivity. To improve island wide connections, there is new international capacity coming on stream; this means more capacity is being added in anticipation of the huge data demands of the America’s Cup coverage.  Once this capacity is switched on and available in Bermuda, it stays on after the America’s Cup event.

  1. Sophisticated managed spectrum for the significant boat telemetry, radio and broadcast signals, and all the hand-held VHF’s.
  2. A new Wi-Fi network will be set up at the America’s Cup Village, which is free to the public.
  3.  Both local cellular companies; One Communications and Digicel; are rolling out new LTE (or 4G) networks. This new 4G network effectively means that anyone on 4G networks will get faster connections on a cell phone. Both companies are also installing several new temporary cell sites (Cellular on Wheels, COWs) during the race month. This improvement will mean that the on water experience this year will be significantly better than during the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series event in Hamilton in October 2015. At that time, LTE was not available as the spectrum had not been awarded, where now we do and Bermuda’s cellular networks will be ready.
  4. Cellular capacity on the water, with possibly 1000 boats all streaming data, will still be a challenge.  These companies have spent the past 18 months building new LTE networks, planning additional cell sites and redesigning the network to be America’s Cup ready.
  5. The companies have designed networks that will be monitored locally, and resources will be deployed on the water to keep an eye on cellular traffic congestion and any signal interference, to ensure that Bermuda delivers quality telecommunications.
  1. Over the past two years Bermuda’s providers have made a significant effort.  One Communications, Digicel, CCS, TBi, Challenger Cable, East End Telecom, Fireminds, WOW, and many other contractors have been involved and have played a critical role in making this happen. This is a collective industry response, which means we will have an infrastructure and service we can be proud of.

The investment by local telecommunications companies is another example of how America’s Cup benefits Bermuda for the long term. When Bermuda hosts an event of this magnitude, local companies can identify commercial opportunities to see return for their investment. Without the event, these projects may not have been commercially viable and therefore may not otherwise be started.

Tickets for the 35th America’s Cup can be booked online at Local priced $10 tickets are still available for the first day of racing and the Bermuda-themed Open Ceremony and fireworks on Friday May 26.

A thousand points of data in one high-flying machine

March 18, 2017


Oracle Team USA’s new America’s Cup Class boat isn’t just the fastest racing yacht in the world, it’s a fully networked data machine.

Building a boat like this doesn’t just happen — it requires a precise, iterative approach to improving design and performance.

To foster innovation, all of its speed, performance, and control data must be collected for both real-time and later analysis.

Every time the yacht enters the water, sensors connected via Bluetooth, fibre optic, and wi-fi aggregate specific data points. The number of sensors fluctuates, but running more than a thousand concurrently is common.

Some sensors measure weather conditions, others monitor hull stresses and hydrodynamic force on the foils, while others track performance on the wing and sail.

Every sailor wears devices that track heart rate and other bio signals.

All of these sensors operate in real time and the data is pushed out to the team’s Performance Boat — a RIB that follows the race yacht to capture all of the data.

Each of these data points adds up to a more-educated and prepared team as they race towards the 35th America’s Cup.

This data-capturing capability is a result of the internet of Things (IoT) phenomenon and the increasingly viable cost of high-power computing.

Just a few years ago, only 35 custom-programmed sensors measured air pressure on the wing. Today, 300 off-the-shelf sensors provide far more accurate information on the wing alone. In a single test run, Oracle Team USA will generate hundreds of gigabytes of information.

Deep analysis is key to the team’s success. In fact, data is sent to the design team while the yacht is still on the water.

“We can calculate in real time. We can look at what’s actually happening compared to what is predicted to be happening. The sailing team can get a handle on that while they’re sailing,” said Ian Burns, performance team manager for Oracle Team USA.

IoT technology and strategic thinking have ushered in a generational shift in data collection. Nuances that previously couldn’t be measured are now captured with precision. Inexpensive machines crunch gigabytes in real time; the computing power accessible to Oracle Team USA is 100 times what was available in the last race.

There is no longer a trade-off between accuracy, affordability, and scalability.

“The moment the computer resources become less expensive, our guys use more of them,” Burns said.

“The computer solves that we do now are ten times the size that we were doing just last year and 100 times what we did in the last America’s Cup.”

But the answer sought at the end of the equation is always the same — the fastest boat to race in the America’s Cup.