How a top F1 designer is helping BAR's America's Cup Bid

1 March 2015• Written by Ben Ainslie

We had a big announcement at the end of 2014 that wasn’t quite released in time to make it into February’s column: our partnership with Red Bull Advanced Technologies. This was something that we had been working on for a long time, as you might have guessed, if you had read any of the extensive speculation in the press!

It all started when I met Adrian Newey at the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix in 2013. He told me about his interest in the America’s Cup and the new foiling multihulls, and that he had a desire to help Britain win it. When the top F1 designer tells you that he’s interested in applying his expertise to your problem, you don’t just drop his card in a drawer.

We followed up that opening chat with several conversations about a partnership with Red Bull’s team principal, Christian Horner. There are plenty of strong similarities between the design challenges of F1 and the 35th America’s Cup and it was clear that they could help us.

The new America’s Cup boats require much more expertise in aerodynamics and control systems than the old monohulls. In the UK we’re lucky to have a very high level of knowledge and experience in these areas within the motor sport industry, and it made a lot of sense for us to partner with the leading practitioners.

Red Bull Advanced Technologies is absolutely right at the top of this game and there are many very talented people there. The press has tended to focus on our involvement with Newey – he is the chief technical officer at Red Bull Advanced Technologies, but we’re going to be working with the whole team. There are some very sought-after engineers at Red Bull and it’s fantastic to get access to them.

Red Bull Advanced Technologies' technical director, Giles Wood, and Andy Damerum (driver development manager at the F1 team), will be our main contacts on the project. We will present them with a tranche of work, a particular problem or problems, and they will take that in-house to their people in Milton Keynes and give us some answers. All I can tell you about the work is that Giles and Andy specialise in simulation and analysis... I’m not giving away anything more than that! We can learn a huge amount from them and I’m sure it will be a very strong partnership for us.

We’ve already started working on the other news that did make it into February’s column: the venue announcement for Bermuda. A research team went out to the island as soon as it was confirmed and had a really positive trip, making lots of contacts – the Bermudans were really supportive and helpful. I said last time that we’re excited about the choice of venue; this really is going to be a great America’s Cup.

One of the questions our guys got asked a lot on the research trip was, “When are you moving out here?” Oracle Team USA have already announced that they will move to Bermuda in the spring, and the America’s Cup Event Authority will do the same. We have already had our first training camp on the island and went at the end of January to sail in our two-man foiling cats.

But we won’t be moving the team lock, stock and barrel to Bermuda. We’re a British-based team, with a permanent headquarters in Portsmouth and it’s very important to us to be able to utilise the best of British in terms of engineering, manufacturing and sailing.

We will do most of our training in the Solent, and by the time you read this we will be back sailing at home. So we won’t ever be based full-time in Bermuda, but go there for specific training periods, when we have something to achieve with respect to either our sailing or design goals. It’s just another of many differences between this and previous America’s Cups.