The America’s cup is essentially an engineering and design competition. And Oracle Team USA will win this competition because it has assembled an extraordinary group of technical sponsors to help them develop their boat. Each of the companies listed below is contributing major engineering expertise to Oracle ‘s campaign. The other team’s sponsors simply are not able to bring comparable technical expertise to bear.
Airbus is contributing 30 engineers to the Oracle project. To put this into context, in the last edition, Team New Zealand’s design team had 35 engineers at it’s peak. Airbus is sharing the know-how of its experts in areas such as aerodynamics, instrumentation, simulation, composites, structures, hydraulics and data analysis. Airbus recently developed the innovative “sharklet” winglet design on the A320 passenger jet – which reduced drag to such an extent that it reduced fuel burn by up to 4% compared to a conventional wing. They are bringing this expertise to Oracle’s foil design.
It is a shame that this European company, who is headquartered in France, is backing an American team and not the French team Groupama. But they are doing this because they want to back a winner and not the weakest team of the competition. And also because they feel they will be enriched by the collaboration on this project with the other extraordinary sponsors that Oracle Team USA has lined up.
With annual sales exceeding $11.4 billion in fiscal year 2016, Parker Hannifin is the world’s leading manufacturer of motion and control systems, providing solutions for a wide variety of mobile, industrial and aerospace markets. Their engineers are providing the expertise behind the hydraulic systems that control Oracle’s wing and foils. These are key control systems that help the boat achieve and maintain stability as it lifts onto its foils and accelerates.
BMW is bringing it’s know-how and infrastructure to help Oracle Team USA’s with aerodynamics. It is providing expertise in wind tunnel testing and computational fluid dynamics (CFD), and in digital flow simulation. BMW Motorsport engineers also helped develop Oracle’s unique steering wheel.
Oracle itself is a key asset to Oracle Team USA’s effort. The design and development of the America’s Cup boats has become increasing dependent on data driven design and real-time analytics ”to build faster boats. Oracle is one of the best companies in the world at this. They seem to be collecting a lot more data than the other teams during testing and they have the know-how to exploit this data. They are using their machine learning expertise to model the wind on the race course and integrating this with tactical software that advises the skipper on the optimal course to steer. As the team’s Performance Manager Ian “Fresh” Burns admits – this will give them a massive advantage “over the other guy that may be doing it purely by instinct”.