Kiwi ingenuity plays big role in America's Cup

New Zealanders are famed around the world for their ingenuity – there’s an old adage that Kiwis can do anything with a piece of fencing wire.

Kiwis are always striving to develop ideas that no one else has tried, ideas that work. That’s where Kiwi ingenuity and New Zealand’s wealth of boatbuilding experience comes to the fore.

And, when it came to building the 2013 generation of monster wingsail catamarans - known as AC72s - for the 2013 America's Cup, Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ) did not need to go far from their Auckland harbour base to get help and expertise.

Viaduct Basin

Auckland’s Viaduct Basin is home to some of the world’s leading manufacturers in the boatbuilding trade.

Names like Southern Spars, who built the 40m wingsails for ETNZ, and North Sails, are famous the world over. Cookson Boats, one of the world's leading builders of composite racing yachts, based on Auckland’s North Shore, has built the last eight boats for Team New Zealand campaigns.

Having the world’s leading manufacturers straight across the road when you’re building a new boat is a huge help, the ETNZ team acknowledges, especially when those companies know their work will be on show to the world, in an event regarded as the pinnacle of yacht racing.

"This team is at the leading edge of yacht design and technology, accumulating a wealth of intellectual capital dating back to Fremantle in 1987," ETNZ managing director Grant Dalton says.

"We employ designers and engineers of international repute - a priceless asset for New Zealand in a world where knowledge is paramount. The team has invested more than 140,000 hours in designing the two AC72 yachts, and that process is continuing."

AC72 - new genre of boat

With a team of over 30 boat designers - and help of a mini super-computer, and the advice of the sailing crew - the New Zealand team has led the way with its AC72s.

They were the first team to launch the new genre of America’s Cup boat, and the first to successfully sail using foils, where the hulls are lifted clear of the water, resulting in less friction and more speed.

But they are not sitting back on their laurels. The Kiwis are only too aware that it is an ever-evolving class, and the fickleness of the fragile catamarans means every team must be constantly looking to improve - without losing a speed edge.

"We are always trying new things and testing new ideas all the time; it is a constant process of trying to make the boat better and better and this won’t stop right up until the last race," says ETNZ designer Nick Hutchins.

Emirates Team New Zealand technical director Nick Holroyd, in his fourth America’s Cup campaign, says designing the AC72 has been more complex than anything he has ever been involved in.

"The Cup is always about pressure; it's always nerve-wracking. It’s a very big, very complex, very expensive project," he says. "This class is going to redefine the definition of a fragile race boat."

But the Kiwis are confident that with their wealth of knowledge and experience, stretching back more than a quarter of century, they will again be at the forefront of getting the complex equation right.

More information

Fact file: New Zealand and the America's Cup