The America’s Cup is the oldest trophy in international sports and the highest prize in sailing. Although it has a colorful history dating to 1851, America’s Cup wind-powered racing yachts certainly aren’t old school: the boats use advanced light-weight materials, the latest in nautical design, and aerospace control technology to skim across the ocean’s surface at speeds approaching 50 knots. That’s 55-plus miles-per-hour for landlubbers and the ultimate challenge for the 11-sailor crews that navigate the sophisticated yachts.
Parker is no stranger to the high-pressure competition that fuels the America’s Cup, having supported U.S. teams as an official partner during the last America’s Cup and supplying parts for decades. Following the announcement on January 7, 2019, Parker Hannifin is teaming with a New York Yacht Club-backed entry from the United States called “American Magic.” Parker is the official control systems partner to bring the trophy home to America’s shore in the 36th America’s Cup in 2021. Parker and the American Magic Team will work together to develop and implement state-of-the-art systems for the team’s racing boats. Leveraging a portfolio of proven aerospace and industrial technologies, these systems will enable the advanced yachts with precise control of the lifting surfaces and the wing required to produce optimum performance.
"Parker is honored to be a part of the American Magic team and to build on our long history with the America's Cup. The motion and control challenges that are presented by this latest generation of foiling yachts are significant and relevant to those that we see in our core business. The opportunity to partner with some of the most talented engineers and athletes on the planet in the crucible of a world-class competition is a recipe for technology advancement, and hopefully some American magic."
— Craig Maxwell, vice president and chief technology and innovation officer for Parker
Teams will be racing a monohull boat designed under the AC75 Class Rule, which defines the parameters within which teams can design a yacht eligible to compete for the 36th America’s Cup. In addition to shared weight, mast, and sail specifications, the AC75 boats will feature a 75-foot monohull with a T-foil rudder and twin canting T-foils. The objective of this design is to allow the boats to accelerate sufficiently that their foils elevate the hulls from the water to navigate above the ocean’s surface, reducing drag and increasing speed.
The AC75 is a “one-design” vessel, meaning that all teams’ boats use the same design for the main structural elements. The teams can innovate and gain advantage at the system levels of the boats. That’s where Parker Aerospace comes in.
Putting 100-plus years of engineering expertise to work and applying a broad range of core technologies, Parker will integrate its controls, hydraulics, and actuators into a key motion and control system that helps American Magic boats achieve stability as each lift onto its foils and accelerates.
According to Mark Czaja, vice president of technology and innovation with Parker Motion Systems, a wide range of Parker products and system-level expertise will help the American Magic boat perform at its highest level.
“Working with the team's Official Innovation Partner, Airbus – with whom Parker already works closely on several commercial and military aircraft platforms – we are bringing advanced control technologies to the American Magic boats, refining the design of the control system and its components for the rigors of saltwater competition.”
— Mark Czaja, vice president of technology and innovation with Parker Motion Systems
The New York Yacht Club American Magic team has built a boat to half-scale of a race-ready AC75 design. The 38-foot boat—known as “the Mule” to its sailors, designers, and shore crew—has undergone testing in the waters of Pensacola, Florida. The shakedown runs serve to train the crew and provide system-level data that will influence the building of the first full-scale American Magic boat. The first AC75 yacht should be in the water by the end of August of 2019. Data gathered from the first boat will inform construction of a second one; either of the two boats can be used in the Challenger selection events and, ultimately, the America’s Cup.
The 36th America’s Cup match will take place in Auckland, New Zealand, in March of 2021. Prior to the America’s Cup, American Magic will compete in the America’s Cup World Series (April 23-26, 2020) and the Prada Cup Challenger series starting in January 2021. These races build toward the 36th America’s Cup over March 6-21, when the competition leader will earn the right to face current cup defender, Team Emirates New Zealand. But there is much to do before that for American Magic—and Parker—to prepare for the next edition of the America’s Cup.
We’ll be blogging throughout the run-up to the America’s Cup race in 2021, keeping readers posted on Parker and American Magic progress toward winning the cup for America.
This post was contributed by Zack Cody, project lead and a member of the Parker Aerospace central engineering department.