Last week, Emirates Team New Zealand has won the 35th America’s Cup, defeating previous winner ORACLE TEAM USA. The New Zealand team dominated the final stage of the 35th America’s Cup, winning eight races to ORACLE TEAM USA’s one race win.
Both teams’ boat designs relied heavily on composites. ORACLE TEAM USA’s AC50 catamaran is bound together with a lattice of carbon fiber tubing. For more than six years, the team has partnered with New Zealand-based Core Builders Composites. Their facility has been used by Oracle Team USA for their America’s Cup projects dating back to the wingsailed trimaran of the 2010 America’s Cup, and again for the successful defense of the America’s Cup in 2013.
Oracle Team USA announced in 2014 it would also partner with Airbus on aerodynamics, instrumentation and simulation, composites, structures, hydraulics and data analysis expertise for the AC50. To optimize performance, Core Builders Composites invested in cost reduction methods and materials for manufacturing composite tooling.
“We are using cheaper mold making techniques and cheaper carbon fiber, including a lot of recycled carbon fiber to build all carbon molds,” said Tim Smyth, Manager at Core Builders Composites. “We prefer to use all carbon molds because they stay nice and true.”
Core Builders Composites also built tooling in conjunction with Cookson Boats, the team building parts from that tooling for the winning AC50 from Emirates Team New Zealand. Cookson Boats also worked with Southern Spars, one of the world’s leading composite engineering companies, on the hull and wing of Team New Zealand’s catamaran.
Having both Emirates New Zealand and ORACLE TEAM USA’s catamaran built in New Zealand has boosted the country’s boatbuilding reputation. According to NZ Marine, that reputation “comes largely from a unique training program in New Zealand that is seeing Kiwis set the bar for composite work.” The NZ Marine and Composites Industry Training Organization has developed a boatbuilding training program that’s steadily producing the most innovative marine craftsmen in the world, with graduates on both the Oracle Team USA and Emirates Team New Zealand boat building teams.
The 36th America’s Cup will be held in Auckland, New Zealand at a date still to be determined.