SAILING EVER CLOSER TO THE WIND
The America's Cup outcome may owe much to the wind tunnels of Seattle
Webmaster's Note: As 1998 ends and the countdown to the America's Cup 2000 approaches, requests by visitors to our web site for technical information are made every day. While much of this information is confidential, several new details were recently reported in the London's Financial Times. The following are some excerpts from the article which ran in the The Financial Times on December 1st.
By Andrew Gellatly
December 1, 1998, -- When Paul Cayard, winner of this year's Whitbread Round the World yacht race and a native Californian, set out to find the $30m sponsorship he needs to compete, he went straight to companies with the technological clout to give him an edge in what has become a computing "arms race."
AmericaOne, has already secured half the money it needs from three sponsors: Hewlett-Packard (H-P), Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC)/Bellcore and Ford Motor Company. "It always boils down to who has the fastest boat. We need the tools to accurately model more than 100,000 possible designs in tank testing and wind tunnel testing, so it lends itself to information technology companies because they can tell a meaningful story," says Mr Cayard.
In addition to $5m in sponsorship, H-P has given the 30-strong AmericaOne design team sole use of its 128 parallel-processor supercomputer in Richardson, Texas. The team has been using it for three-dimensional analysis and for crunching hydrodynamics data from its tank testing at the US Navy's weapons research facility in Maryland.
"There is a very clear synergy between the work AmericaOne is doing and our work for motor racing teams," says Knute Christiansen, H-P's supercomputing program manager. "The tools used for analysis have proved very similar. Racing car teams don't have to worry about hydrodynamics, but AmericaOne's design problems perfectly map over into the automotive and aerospace industry's work on fluid characteristics and structural analysis."
Improvements in processing speed since the last America's Cup in San Diego have redrawn the map of what is possible in designing an America's Cup boat.
"Four years ago we might have been doing an analysis on the hull surface by modelling a 1m cells, now we are doing 10m, plus those simulations are five to 10 times more accurate," says Mr Christiansen.
John Kuhn, SAIC's director of technology in San Diego, has been working on three-dimensional sail analysis problems which previously have only been calculated in two dimensions. "For SAIC this has been a very physics-oriented campaign, with a lot of corporate input - there has been a business spirit behind it," he says.
Next year's Auckland event, in Hauraki Gulf, promises to be an interesting TV spectacle. "It's windy a lot of the time," says Mr Cayard, "things will break, people will get stuck up masts, it will look very exciting." But much of the outcome will already have been determined in the wind tunnels of Seattle and the towing tanks of Maryland.
About the Syndicate
AmericaOneis dedicated to recapturing the America’s Cup by applying U.S. technology in computer equipment, aerodynamics, hydrodynamics, sail design, naval architecture and structural engineering to America's Cup sailboat design. Technology partners include Hewlett-Packard, Bellcore/SAIC, and Ford Motor Company and Visteon. Operating since June 1, 1996, the AmericaOne team is comprised of 36 professionals, including 20 members of the design team, actively working on the research and design of its sailboats. AmericaOne is the challenger on behalf of San Francisco’s St. Francis Yacht Club. To learn more about AmericaOne , visit the web site at www.ac2000.org
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