Olympic rowing champion Joe Sullivan had never been in a yacht race until recently, but he is one of the four cyclists on board Emirates Team New Zealand's America's Cup cat

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8 May 2017

2012 Olympic gold medallist Joe Sullivan is one of two members of Emirates Team New Zealand’s America’s Cup team who is a sailing novice.

The rower, along with former sprint cyclist Simon van Velthooven, are cyclists on the team’s catamaran, which has a cycle grinding system to power the hydraulic systems.

The team’s decision to build a boat with cycling pedestals instead of traditional arm-powered grinding pedestals caused much debate and excitement when it was unveiled in February.

Although, they lack sailing experience, both Sullivan and van Velthooven have clearly been chosen for their ability to push through the pain barrier, and, in van Velthooven’s case, his cycling expertise.

America's Cup crew training on bikes

The training is tough. Credit: Hamish Hooper / Emirates Team New Zealand

Around two weeks ago, these sailing newbies got the chance to experience the kind of high speed racing expected at America’s Cup matches when they took part in three races on the final day of official practice racing in Bermuda.

Speaking to the New Zealand Herald, Sullivan said: “It was definitely a bit more intense, everyone is really switched on and really locked into what we’re doing.”

A cyclist who is part of the Emirates Team New Zealand America's Cup team

Simon van Velthooven. Credit: Nicola/Wikimedia Commons

“We didn’t have the best of races, but we learnt a lot, which was really good and just to get out there and really cement that understanding of what you need to do and what the boat needs was really good,” he added.

Emirates Team New Zealand raced Artemis Racing , SoftBank Team Japan and Groupama Team France taking two wins from the three races.

It was certainly better than their earlier experience of Bermudan waters, with the cat nosediving during on practice session


Sullivan said there are many similarities between rowing and grinding.

“It’s definitely very similar (to the intensity of a rowing final), but it’s a bit more on-off. So there are patches where the boat demands a lot of power and you have to give as much as you have and then there are times where you can take it a bit easier, whereas with rowing it is consistently killing you,” explained Sullivan to the New Zealand Herald.

“When you’re giving it a full effort it’s very much the same as rowing,” he added.


4 May 2017

Emirates Team New Zealand unveiled their cycle grinding system to power the hydraulic systems throughout their boat.

Now, Land Rover BAR have made public their secret weapon to win the 35th America’s Cup in Bermuda – a bespoke steering wheel.

Engineers have created a one-off steering wheel with gear-shift paddles shaped to fit Sir Ben Ainslie’s hands.

It should give the Olympic legend perfect fingertip control, allowing him to adjust the boat’s hydrofoils with greater precision for the fastest possible racing.


Effectively it means Sir Ben can lift R1, Land Rover BAR’s 2.4-tonne race boat, out of the water with a flick of his fingertips.

Just as an aerofoil helps a plane into the sky, hydrofoils lift a boat out of the water.

The Land Rover steering wheel turns the boat left and right as it would on a car, while the gear shift paddles control its height above the water by controlling the lift from the foils.

Land Rover’s Human Machine Interface engineers spent 18 months developing the wheel that will lift R1 above the water at speeds above 50 knots.

As Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series champions, Land Rover BAR head into the qualifiers for the 35th America’s Cup with a two-point head-start over the remaining challengers.

The team begins its challenge for the America’s Cup on 26 May against Artemis Racing of Sweden.


21 April 2017

There are just 35 days to go until the start of the first America’s Cup race and all six teams are pushing hard, trying to iron out any glitches in their form.

Certainly the skipper of Oracle Team USA – the defenders of the Ould Mug – will be hoping there wont be a repeat of his man overboard during training yesterday.

Jimmy Spithill was trying to leap towards the starboard side of the catamaran, when he lost his footing and ended up in the sea.

“I got sling-shotted off the back,” Spithill told said in a video of the incident posted onto the team’s official YouTube channel.

“I had a split decision to basically say ‘can I stop myself?’, and I made the decision that I could not stop myself.”

Spithill suffered no ill effects from his man overboard, which seems to be a pretty common occurrence.

Last week, a member of Groupama Team France ended up in the sea during practice training before being picked up by a safety boat.

Earlier this year, Spithill’s Oracle Team USA team mate, Graeme Spence went overboard in front of the main beam.

The grinder fell in the water between the two hulls.

A timely reminder of why safety is paramount in yacht racing.

16 February 2017

Emirates Team New Zealand has launched the boat it will use to challenge for the 35th Americas Cup in Bermuda in May.

And unlike the other boats unveiled so far, New Zealand has a cycle grinding system which the team will use to power the hydraulic systems throughout the boat.

Emirates Team New Zealand design coordinator, Dan Bernasconi said moving away from a traditional grinding system was an obvious design choice.

“When we sat down to think about the overall design of this boat three years ago the benefits of cycling opposed to regular grinding were obvious, but certainly not without issues and difficulty with functionality, and this is what we have been working incredibly hard on overcoming for the past three years,” he explained.

“Winning the next America’s Cup is all about maintaining a stable flight on the entire race course and that’s the reason why this boat contains some of the most innovative and powerful technology ever used in this competition in its systems, electronics, hydraulics and foil designs,” stressed Bernasconi.

Emirates Team New Zealand's America's Cup race boat

New Zealand. Credit: Hamish Hooper/Emirates Team New Zealand

The catamaran was unveiled at the team’s Beaumont Street base in Auckland.

“This is a really proud day for the team collectively,” said the team’s CEO Grant Dalton.

“The campaign always just gets real when you launch the actual boat that you hope will be the one to win the America’s Cup back for New Zealand. It’s when things get exciting, and despite the long hard hours everyone has been putting in there is definitely an added edge to the team now this is in the water,” noted The Race winner and five time Whitbread Round the World competitor.

The AC Class catamaran, which is 15 metres (49.2 feet) long and has a 25-metre wing, is the result of the team working six and seven day weeks since July last year.

All the boat’s components were built in New Zealand involving works at Southern Spars, Cookson Boats and C Tech, with the meticulous fit out process being done at the team base since prior to Christmas.

The rule for the America’s Cup Class required certain elements of the boats to be one design (hulls, beams, central pod and wing shape), so designers were mainly focused on control systems and daggerboards where the Protocol allows more flexibility.

Even if the AC Class catamarans are 20-feet shorter and have a 15-metres smaller wing than the AC72s, they are expected to be around 20% faster around the race track than in 2013 in San Francisco.

America's Cup boat, New Zealand, is lowered into the water

New Zealand is lowered into the water. Credit: Emirates Team New Zealand

Shore team manager, Sean Regan said the team had be “working so incredibly hard to get to this point”.

“Some guys have been working 12+ hour days everyday without a day off since the 3 January. The fact we are the first team to go sailing on the race boat, considering how late we were compared to the other teams is an unbelievable testament to the drive, focus and determination this very special team has collectively,” he stressed.

“There is a true belief that this team can take on the five other Goliath’s and win this thing,” added Regan.

The emphasis of the campaign now moves from inside the confines of the boat shed to the open water of the Hauraki Gulf, led by skipper and sailing team director, Glenn Ashby.

“It’s been a challenge to get to this point, and the first sailing has been a very special moment for the entire team,” he noted.

“The next few months of sailing and development with our race boat will be some of the most important in this America’s Cup. We’ll do a month of intensive testing here in Auckland then we will suspend the test programme and move to Bermuda where we will resume our training until racing starts, on 26 May,” added Ashby.

New Zealand will challenge for the 35th America's Cup

On the water in Auckland. Credit: Hamish Hooper/ Emirates Team New Zealand

Dalton said that in the 30-year history of Emirates Team New Zealand, it has always been “at the forefront of international sailing.”

“From its beginning with Plastic Fantastic in 1987 to the introduction of foils in San Francisco the team has always reshaped the America’s Cup and the boat we are christening today is introducing revolutionary concepts once again,” said Dalton.

“I wish to thank the sponsors and the official suppliers that have believed once again in our challenge, but I also want to congratulate all the team, and in particular shore and design teams, who have worked relentlessly for months, allowing us to comply with the deadlines we had set,” he added.

New Zealand in numbers

Boat weight: 2332-2432 kg
Optical fibres: 60 metres
Hull length: 49,2 feet
Height of wing above water: 25 metres
Top speed: +46 knots
Crew members: 6
Average crew weight: 87.5kg
Emirates Team New Zealand’s members: 90


15 February 2017

After more than 85,000 man hours, ORACLE TEAM USA has revealed its new America’s Cup Class boat, 17.

Speaking at the unveiling of the foiling catamaran the team will race this summer in Bermuda, skipper Jimmy Spithill said: “This is the boat we’re racing to win the America’s Cup.”

The new America’s Cup Class boats are foiling, wingsailed catamarans, 15 meters in length and capable of reaching speeds approaching 100 km/h.

In addition they are extremely manoeuvrable, making them ideal match racing platforms.

“We need to get this boat out on the water and put the hours in getting it ready to race,” said Spithill.

“The long days will continue,” he added.

The team will continue testing and developing the catamaran and this won’t stop until the final race of the America’s Cup.

America's Cup catamaran

ORACLE TEAM USA hope 17 will give them their third America’s Cup win. Credit: Peter Hurley/America’s Cup

“Many of the major design decisions have been made and have been built in already to what you see tonight,” said the design coordinator for ORACLE TEAM USA, Scott Ferguson.

“But the refinement and optimisation process never stops. We know there is still speed to be found between now and 26 May  when racing begins in the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers and that’s our focus for the coming weeks,” he added.

More than 15 designers and 50 boat-builders have contributed to the design and build of 17.

Team partners like Airbus, BMW, Parker and Yanmar have provided technical expertise and support.

Oracle Team USA's America's Cup boat

17. Credit: BMW/Carlo Borlenghi

The chief operating officer of ORACLE TEAM USA, Grant Simmer said the unveiling of 17 was a major milestone “in our campaign to win the America’s Cup for a third time”.

“These boats are highly-engineered, with complex systems, and built to perform under extreme conditions,” he said.

“It’s a great achievement by our designers, builders and engineers to get us to this point where the race yacht gets handed over to the sailors,” stressed Simmer.

Spithill, who attended the launch along with his 14-strong sailing team, described 17 as an “incredible racing machine”.

“I’m really proud of this team and what we’ve achieved so far,” he said.

“I’d like to thank the design team, the engineering team, the shore support, and our full boat-building team, including the guys who couldn’t be here,” added Spithill.


7 February 2017

Britain has never won the America’s Cup in its 166-year history.

But Sir Ben Ainslie and his Land Rover BAR team are hoping to change that….and Rita is the name of their secret weapon.

The R1 race boat was unveiled at the team’s base in Bermuda yesterday afternoon (7 February 2017).

It was christened by Sir Ben’s wife, Lady Georgie Ainslie and daughter Bellatrix.

Land Rover's BAR America's Cup Race Boat, Rita

The LandRover BAR race yacht, Rita, is launched in Bermuda. Credit: Lloyd Images

The choice of the boat’s name is significant. Sir Ben has been naming his boats Rita throughout his career.

Watch an interview with Sir Ben below

Commenting on the launch, Sir Ben said: “It’s a great moment to see our race boat Rita hit the water in Bermuda.”

“The launch represents the sum of all the team’s efforts to bring the America’s Cup home, and we’re delighted to get her in the water here in Bermuda,” he continued.

“We’re a start-up team, and we had to build not just the boat but the design and engineering team, the facilities and the processes to get to this point today,” explained Sir Ben.

Rita - the America's Cup race boat for Land Rover BAR

The Land Rover BAR team with Rita. Credit: Lloyd Images

“There are just a few short months before the racing starts at the end of May, and we will be working very hard now on the final development and testing of this boat to make sure we are ready for the racing,” stressed Sir Ben.

BAR shared the engineering skills used by Jaguar Land Rover to create its newest models.

Aerodynamic, self-learning car, artificial intelligence and virtual-modelling technologies are all helping the boat to go faster.

The director of research at Jaguar Land Rover, Tony Harper, said their partnership with Land Rover BAR has enabled the engineers to up-skill and practice new methods in different environments and platforms.

“This process of two-way engineering and our wider STEM programme across the business has enabled us to develop, learn and provide our capabilities to the BAR team,” he explained.

“We developed industry-first aerodynamic testing to support the wingsail design which you can see on the final boat here today,” continued Harper.

“From the success of this project, and with our knowledge of analysis and construction of light-weight vehicles, we have also supported the structural design of the daggerboards – the surfboard-style structure underneath the boat that allow it to fly and keep it stable when out of the water,” he stated.

Each light-weight daggerboard needs to bear 2,400kg, the equivalent of a new Land Rover Discovery, so their job on the boat is crucial.

“It has been an incredible campaign to be involved in as a British automotive brand. We are extremely proud to be supporting Sir Ben Ainslie’s entry into this legendary race,” added Harper.

Rita - Land Rover BAR's America's Cup boat

The CEO of Land Rover BAR, Martin Whitmarsh, said Jaguar Land Rover’s input to the final boat design had been “hugely significant” for the team.

The America’s Cup has always been a sailing and design race and the boats have developed from ropes and winches to more technical machines which will fly out of the water at up to 60mph,” he said.

“This complex design requires the latest engineering skill and insight, allowing automotive brands to make a significant impact in the design race – very much like in F1,” explained Whitmarsh.

Land Rover BAR have less than four months to make design tweaks and for the sailors to train on the water in Bermuda.

The America’s Cup begins on 26 May 2017 with the first round of qualifiers.

The winner will be crowned at the end of June.

Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to watch the event live in Bermuda and more on TV.


19 December 2016

Land Rover BAR’s opening race of the 35th America’s Cup campaign will be against fellow challenger Artemis Racing from Sweden.

The race will take place on Friday, 26 May 2017.

The full event schedule for the 35th America’s Cup in Bermuda in 2017 has been confirmed, outlining the calendar of five weeks of sailing action, starting on 26 May and finishing on or around 27 June 2017.

All the 35th America’s Cup races will take place on the waters of Bermuda’s Great Sound.

The racing format of the 35th America’s Cup in Bermuda features all six America’s Cup teams competing in the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers, the round robin match racing that kicks off the 35th America’s Cup.

In these opening two rounds, Land Rover BAR will race every other team twice battling for the right to advance to the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Challenger Playoffs (only the top four advance), which starts on 4 June.

Land Rover BAR out in water in Bermuda

Credit: Alex Palmer

The current Defender, ORACLE TEAM USA, then moves straight into the America’s Cup Match, in which it will take on the winner of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Challenger Playoffs.

The teams finishing first and second in the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series will carry two and one points respectively into the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers in 2017.

The top four challengers from the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers will split into two semi-finals and this second stage of the 2017 competition will run from 4 June until 12 June, with the winners taking part in a finals competition to determine which team will take on the Defender in the America’s Cup Match.

Also at stake in the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers is a bonus point for the America’s Cup Match.

If the team that wins the Qualifiers (whether Defender or a challenger) also advances to the match, it will start with a one-point advantage.

Also running over these dates is the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup and the return of the AC45 foiling race catamarans currently being campaigned by the America’s Cup teams in the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series.

In Bermuda 2017 the AC45’s will be crewed by up to 16 teams of the next generation of sailing superstars, with the Land Rover BAR Academy representing Britain.


6 December 2016

With the America’s Cup World Series over, Land Rover BAR have now starting moving their sailing operations from Portsmouth to Bermuda.

The first two shipments of boats and equipment have left the base, an award-winning building at Camber Docks in Old Portsmouth.

The new sailing and hospitality facility located in Bermuda’s Royal Navy Dockyard has been under construction since mid-summer.

Ben Ainslie's dachshund, Ginger, at the team's America's Cup base in Bermuda

Ben Ainslie’s dachshund, Ginger, checks out the team’s dock in Bermuda. Credit: Alex Palmer

The team have already arrived in Bermuda, and have started training under the Caribbean sunshine.

About 50% of the team will move to Bermuda, but many of them will be on rotation from Portsmouth, which will remain the core of the operation and the team’s home.

A ‘Virtual Chase Boat’ has been built  to allow engineers and performance analysts to monitor all the sailing in Bermuda from the Dell EMC Mission Control in Portsmouth.

BT has built the data channel that allows the 190 sensors and four video cameras to report in real time from the America’s Cup race course on the Great Sound, Bermuda all the way back to Portsmouth.

Once there, the performance analysis is supported with tools developed with help from Land Rover.

TEam Land Rover BAR

Team Land Rover BAR. Credit: Jack Abel Smith

In addition to the team members in Bermuda, 54 family members will be moving full time, including six babies and 24 children.

The team’s engineering manager, Richard Hopkirk, said the next few months are crucial.

“The next few months of sailing and development with our race boat will be some of the most important in this America’s Cup,” he said.

“And while the design and engineering teams will be split, we’ve used communications technology to our advantage to ensure that the team in Portsmouth will be an integral part of the onwards development programme,” continued Hopkirk.

“It’s an exciting new way of operating in the America’s Cup, and is closer to the F1 model than what’s been done in the Cup before,” he added.

The move to Bermuda involves three shipments, including one R1 race boat, one T3 test boat, a fully equipped gym, a crane and 42 containers full of kit!

Land Rover BAR America's Cup infographic

Meanwhile, tickets for the 35th America’s Cup will go on sale on 9 December 2016.

The battle will take place from 26 May 2017, withe the final expected to take place on or around the 27 June.

There are a range of ticket options which give spectators access to a variety of areas including:

The America’s Cup Village;
Grandstand seats, offering unrivalled views of the stadium-style action as it unfolds on Bermuda’s Great Sound;
Official Spectator Boats, enabling America’s Cup fans who want to be on the water to enjoy a front row position right on the edge of the racecourse;
Longtail Lounge hospitality, one of the best VIP experiences in Bermuda, providing relaxed views of the Great Sound in a perfect hospitality setting;
Goslings Dark ‘n Stormy Island Bar, promising a lively atmosphere, delicious buffet lunches and fantastic views of the finish line;
Private Boat Registration, giving boat owners the chance to enjoy all the 35th America’s Cup action from the comfort of their own vessels, right next to the racecourse itself.

Tickets are limited to six tickets per day, per person but multiple days may be purchased.