America’s Cup: Using tech to protect

Published on April 24th, 2020

Each of the America’s Cup teams has had to alter their operations due to the health guidelines of their country, and as these standards are not consistent across the world, this has tilted the playing field in an event where time is always the most valued commodity.

Hit hardest is the New Zealand defender as their AC75 has been gone on ship transport since late January for the now cancelled America’s Cup World Series events, and the construction of the second AC75 has been halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

New Zealand’s 4-level Alert System specifies measures to be taken against the virus at each level, and with the country at Alert Level 4, they have been in full lockdown. However, with the Government to move out of Alert Level 4 lockdown at 11.59pm on April 27, the shift to Level 3 will permit workplaces to function if they can operate safely.

This means the kiwi team must maintain physical distance between workers, recording who is working together, limiting interaction between groups of workers, disinfecting surfaces, and maintaining high hygiene standards

To prepare for Level 3, Emirates Team New Zealand was casting its thinking forward to how to be operational again and what measures would be needed to keep team members safe so that it could be in the strongest possible position to make up for lost time.

An initial response was to address the need for stringent hygiene and constant sanitization with the understanding that national supplies of sanitizers were already under significant pressure. The solution has been to import several chlorination producing machines for the team base and the North shore build facility which has seen the build of the second AC75 frozen for five weeks.

The next equally important but more complex issue would be managing appropriate levels of social distancing for the entire team while at work.

“It was obvious to us that monitoring social distancing would be both difficult and distracting for the team to be constantly judging their distance by eye all day long,” said Emirates Team New Zealand CEO Grant Dalton.

“So we went looking for a simple technological system that could aid the team with their personal distancing but nothing seemed to be readily available. Because we are an organization with technology at its core, we looked at what we could do ourselves and who we knew could help.”

Dalton thought of Brent Russell and company Igtimi who are in charge of developing the pinpoint accurate boat tracking software for the America’s Cup race management system. Russell’s typically kiwi response was, “Yep, we can do this.”

Brent and the team at Igtimi were straight onto the job developing an Ultra Wide Band positioning system of personal tags that accurately measure the distance between people. The tags are programmed to react by flashing, beeping and vibrating when a pre-programmed perimeter is intersected. The interactions between the two tags (or people) are then logged for contact tracing purposes.

“We have basically come up with a cost-effective technical solution to keep the Emirates Team New Zealand crew separated in their own bubbles in their work environment, and recording any contact between them for traceability and accountability,” explained Russell.

Igtimi as a company was established in the middle of the Global Financial Crisis, so like Emirates Team New Zealand, understands the opportunities that can be created through hardship. With the country expected to shift to Level 3 on April 28, the clock was ticking.

“Before coronavirus came along we would have been in the thick of preparing for the TV production and race management in Cagliari at the first ACWS event this week,” noted Russell. “Instead, we have spent our time frantically working with Emirates Team New Zealand on this separation system and plan to have it implemented by the time work resumes.”


Source: Team New Zealand, Scuttlebutt

36th America’s Cup
In addition to Challenges from Italy, USA, and Great Britain that were accepted during the initial entry period (January 1 to June 30, 2018), eight additional Notices of Challenge were received by the late entry deadline on November 30, 2018. Of those eight submittals, entries from Malta, USA, and the Netherlands were also accepted. Here’s the list:

• Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL)

• Luna Rossa (ITA) – Challenger of Record
• American Magic (USA)
• Malta Altus Challenge (MLT) – WITHDRAW
• Stars + Stripes Team USA (USA)
• DutchSail (NED) – WITHDRAW

Of the three late entries, only Stars+Stripes USA remains committed, but they still must complete the entry fee payment process before they will be eligible to race. They have allegedly made their initial payment but as a late entry challenger under the Protocol, they also have a liability to pay a US$1million late entry fee due in installments by October 1, 2019. However, it is not yet confirmed if they have paid the fee, nor is there any knowledge of a boat being actively built or sailing team training.

Key America’s Cup dates:
✔ September 28, 2017: 36th America’s Cup Protocol released
✔ November 30, 2017: AC75 Class concepts released to key stakeholders
✔ January 1, 2018: Entries for Challengers open
✔ March 31, 2018: AC75 Class Rule published
✔ June 30, 2018: Entries for Challengers close
✔ August 31, 2018: Location of the America’s Cup Match and The PRADA Cup confirmed
✔ August 31, 2018: Specific race course area confirmed
✔ November 30, 2018: Late entries deadline
✔ March 31, 2019: Boat 1 can be launched (DELAYED)
✔ 2nd half of 2019: 2 x America’s Cup World Series events (CANCELLED)
✔ October 1, 2019: US$1million late entry fee deadline (NOT KNOWN)
✔ February 1, 2020: Boat 2 can be launched (DELAYED)
✔ April 23-26, 2020: First (1/3) America’s Cup World Series event in Cagliari, Sardinia (CANCELLED)
✔ June 4-7, 2020: Second (2/3) America’s Cup World Series event in Portsmouth, England (CANCELLED)
December 17-20: Third (3/3) America’s Cup World Series event in Auckland, New Zealand
January 15-February 22, 2021: The PRADA Cup Challenger Selection Series
March 6-15, 2021: The America’s Cup Match

AC75 launch dates:
September 6 – Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL), Boat 1
September 10 – American Magic (USA), Boat 1; actual launch date earlier but not released
October 2 – Luna Rossa (ITA), Boat 1
October 4 – INEOS Team UK (GBR), Boat 1


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