ARCHIVED - NRC Client Sails to Victory in 2003 America's Cup

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May 03, 2003— Ottawa, Ontario

The Oracle BMW team, one of NRC-IMD's two clients to reach the final of the America's Cup challenge round.The 2003 America's Cup sailing match and the qualifying round preceding it have cemented the already solid reputation of the NRC Institute for Marine Dynamics (NRC-IMD) among yacht designers.

On March 2, the Swiss syndicate Alinghi beat the defending champion, Team New Zealand, 5-0 to win the America's Cup — the first time in the 152-year history of this event that the Cup went to a European team. Prior to the sailing final, Alinghi defeated the Oracle BMW entry for the Louis Vuitton Cup.

The Oracle BMW team, one of NRC-IMD's two clients to reach the final of the America's Cup challenge round.In preparation for this year's matches, NRC-IMD expertise helped both the Alinghi and Oracle BMW teams test different yacht designs. "So in the Louis Vuitton Cup final, we had torn loyalties," says Dr. Bruce Parsons, NRC-IMD's Director of Research.

"We got in this business back in 1993 when we tested the Australia team's designs," he adds. "Word of mouth got around that we could do this job very well."

In 2001, a crew from Oceanic Consulting Corporation, NRC-IMD's commercial partner, measured the drag, lift and other performance variables of sailboat models for the Alinghi syndicate, using the Institute's tow tank facilities. Meanwhile, technical officer Rob Pallard spent almost a year in the United States conducting similar testing on design models proposed by the Oracle BMW team.

At the time, the America's Cup rules required each team to use any testing facilities available in their home country. "So all of the American teams-including Oracle BMW-had to use the U.S. Navy's tow tank in Bethesda, Maryland," says Dr. Parsons. "We took our instrumentation down there, installed it, and Rob Pallard did the measurement work there — even though all the models that he tested were built in Newfoundland."

The Oracle BMW team, one of NRC-IMD's two clients to reach the final of the America's Cup challenge round. The Oracle BMW team, one of NRC-IMD's two clients to reach the final of the America's Cup challenge round.

What edge does NRC-IMD give to its clients? According to Dr. Parsons, "Most of our equipment is state-of-the-art. We designed a new generation of instrumentation back in 1993, outperforming other organizations' equipment."

Superior equipment translates into more precise measurements and therefore increased confidence when ranking the performance of different models. "To highlight this," says Dr. Parsons, "another European team did all the testing work at a large tow tank in their own country. After 100 weeks — two years of effort — they couldn't tell whether boat A was faster or slower than boat Z."

In the wake of its America's Cup victory, the Alinghi team has changed the rule requiring each entry to use facilities in its own country. As a result, Dr. Parsons expects demand for NRC-IMD's services to increase. "Whereas we tested two syndicates' boats last time, we will probably have three, four or more enquiries next time," he says. "But the impact of our success has already been felt. Few naval designers make a full time living from the America's Cup — they have other work. Many of them now use the expertise available at Oceanic Consulting and our facilities for testing powerboats and other things."

The NRC Institute for Marine Dynamics (NRC-IMD), located in St-John's, Newfoundland is Canada's national centre for ocean technology research and development. In collaboration with partners, NRC-IMD pursues research in ship technology and offshore engineering, focusing on such areas as ship and underwater vehicle dynamics, ice effects on marine systems, mooring and towed body simulation, wave-current interaction, and wave impact-analysis.

Find out more about NRC, its partners involved in this collaboration, and about America's Cup:

Enquiries: Media relations
National Research Council of Canada

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