Technology Will Make the America’s Cup Exciting!

Team Oracle USA

If you thought this sport was boring, hold your opinion till September.  In 2010 Team Oracle USA won the Cup, led by billionaire yachtsman Larry Ellison, (founder and CEO of Oracle Corp). They won the right to set the rules and host the 34th  America’s Cup challenge in San Francisco Bay during the month of September.  Team Oracle has undertaken a challenge to make the America’s Cup yacht racing as thrilling a spectator sport as Formula One racing, with scary fast redesigned boats, a first time ever “in-shore” course, and on-board technology that will immerse viewers with the action for the first time ever.

The AC 72 yachts are catamarans (twin hulls), 72 feet long, CAD designed and made of carbon fiber with a 13 story tall rigid wing instead of centuries old soft mainsails.  The rigid wings are computer controlled and propel these boats to an amazing 50+MPH with the hulls flying on hydro foils.  Each AC 72 yacht has 6 high definition cameras, remotely controlled on shore.  Crew members wear microphones, and additional microphones capture sounds of winches being turned and water hitting the hulls.  Data is shared between the devices with computers on shore, where real time graphics in the forms of lines on the water are added to the video to show who is winning, and tactics being used by crews.

The expectations of the Facebook generation

Stan Honey, the Director of Technology, Team Oracle for the 2013 America’s Cup said “the objective is for the technology to stay out of the way and yet allow the sport to be more easily grasped”.  Honey co-founded SportVision, a company based on technology he developed to show television viewers the paths of hockey pucks, baseballs, and football first downs in real time.  He has been a professional sailor since college and full time with Team Oracle since 2005.  As Russell Coutts the CEO of Team Oracle stated in 2010, they planned to create an event to “meet the expectations of the Facebook generation, not the Flintstones generation.”

This year there are 4 entries for the challenge, down from 11 entries in 2007, partly due to the reported $65-$100 million costs just to participate.  Probably just as well, the speed and technology alone, will make this series exciting, and critics have said that “ the boats are simply too dangerous for competition”.   In May, the Swedish team Artemis, flipped its AC72 during training and the front beam connecting the hulls snapped, causing the boat to fold in half drowning a crew member.  Crews now are required to wear helmets, body armor, and buoyancy canisters.

Will you watch the America's Cup challenge?

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