Answering the call – part 2
The second part of our exclusive interview with Silvio Arrivabene co-general manager and head of technical operations at the Swiss America’s Cup challenger Alinghi Red Bull Racing.
Although not yet at full capacity the Swiss Alinghi Red Bull Racing America’s Cup team is nevertheless a complex organisation. Arrivabene expects it to end up similar in scale to previous Alinghi campaigns, but says the syndicate’s configuration will be quite different because of the complex nature of the AC75 class.
“Typically an America's Cup team these days ends up somewhere between a 100 and 110 or so – that is always a scale,” he says. “But although the crew has been reduced, the number of designers and other members of the shore crew has increased.
“These boats are really high-precision machines that require a lot of maintenance and constant development. It takes a lot of manpower just to get them on the water in the morning and once they come back you typically need a lot of maintenance.
“A great example is the appendages – rudders and foils. At the speeds they go the foils can get – damaged is not the right word – but abused puts it better. So every day you need to give them some love and you have a few guys looking after that.
“Plus the systems, hydraulics, electronics, also require a lot of maintenance – the one design foil can’t system is demanding as well.’
Under the new rules for the 37th America’s Cup teams are allowed to design and build only one AC75 – one less than in the 36th edition. With less opportunity to try out new ideas there is fierce pressure on all the teams’ designers to get it right first time.
“They only have one shot,” Arrivabene observed. “ But it is going to be the same for everyone, so at least we're all in the same ….. boat. And of course we have the AC40s that we can use to some extent to test ideas at about half scale.”
Given that the AC40 is heavily based on the second Emirates Team New Zealand’s AC75 which proved so potent in the final of the last America’s Cup Arrivabene said he expected all the teams to take some pointers from that successful design package.
“Their [ETNZ] second boat was pretty unique,” he says. “It had cockpits and the AC40s are along those lines. So you would think that is the way to go – or at least the latest trend.
“But probably, as always, there will be some ideas that are more ‘at the corners’ – we shall see. There is still a good amount of design time ahead of us.”
Arrivabene confirmed that the Swiss team had two AC40s on order which they would at times use for internal match racing practice. He said the team was keen to help support the development of the new class going forward.
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