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BMW Oracle Racing to Build Composite Hulls on Home Soil for 2007 America Cup

  • Friday, 21st January 2005
  • Reading time: about 4 minutes

BMW ORACLE Racing, the international sailing team that is challenging for the America’s Cup in Valencia, Spain, is bound by race rules to build composite hulls for the team’s new high-tech race boats for the 2007 sailing competition in Seattle.

As an American entry representing San Francisco’s Golden Gate Yacht Club, the team is bound by the rules to build the hull of the new racing yachts in the United States. The boats will ultimately race in Valencia, Spain, which is the site of the 32nd Americas Cup in 2007.

“”The Seattle area’s aerospace and maritime heritage and resources make it the ideal location to build many of the components for such high-tech racing yachts,”” said Chris Dickson, CEO BMW ORACLE Racing. “”We plan to utilize local technology and resources where possible to support our in-house team of experts. In our 2003 campaign, we had great results when we built many of the components in the Seattle area and we hope we can repeat that success.””

Due to the competitive nature of the America’s Cup, much of the boat-building plans will remain under wraps until later this year. The team did confirm that the mould for the 80-foot sloops will be built at Janicki Industries in Sedro-Woolley. The hulls will be built of composite materials in nearby Anacortes with the team leasing a 20,000-square-foot building for the hull construction.

“”We built a mould for one of our 2003 America’s Cup yachts at Janicki and we were impressed with the quality of the product,”” Dickson said. “”With a custom made boat, it is essential to have quality control every step of the way and we have the confidence in the operation at Janicki. We’ve gone one step further by building the hulls in the same region, at a facility in Anacortes. While last time we constructed the hulls in California, we decided it would be more efficient to build most of the components in the Seattle region.””

The construction will follow an intensive research and development program to develop what the team hopes is a fast design. Through its partnership with automaker BMW, the international team is benefiting from structural analysis and engineering from BMW engineers integrated into the BMW ORACLE Racing design team. “”We are fortunate to have this transfer of BMW technology and know-how from the automotive industry,”” said Ian Burns, BMW ORACLE Racing Design Coordinator.

“”Quality construction is key to bringing our design concepts to life,”” Burns said. “”Through a precise custom boat-building process, we can ensure the right materials and methods are applied to the build. With high-tech composite materials, precision of construction is critical to ensure that engineering specifications are met,”” Burns said.

Seattle-area sailor Paul Bieker leads the structural design team, working closely with the boat-building team. “”The technology involved in composite boat-building is a science in itself. The design team is pleased to be doing the construction work at these Seattle-area sites.”” The tooling is first developed and then a mould for the hull is constructed. The high-tech carbon fibres are layered onto the mould and then baked in a large oven to make a hull that is strong but light.

The construction of an America’s Cup Class yacht is regarded to be a highly-specialized trade. The BMW ORACLE Racing team will use mostly boat-builders from its experienced in-house team. Mark Turner, the team’s boat-building manager, Tim Smyth and Mark Somerville are collectively managing the build program for BMW ORACLE Racing. All three were involved with the construction of USA 71 and USA 76, the team’s 2003-generation race boats. Those boats are now being used by the team for racing and training as well as for testing new ideas for the 2007-generation boats.

The first of two planned new race boats won’t sail in Valencia until some time in 2006. A start date for boat construction has not been announced. At this stage, the facilities are being prepared to house the construction of the moulds and the hulls but it is still some months before construction begins.

“”We look forward to becoming part of the greater Seattle area maritime community in the months ahead,”” Dickson said. “”We will have a little piece of Seattle with us when we race in 2007 in Valencia, Spain.””

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