America’s Cup: In search of next idea
Published on October 31st, 2022
In his thirties, French yacht designer Thomas Tison is on his fourth America’s Cup campaign, having previously worked with Mascalzone Latino, Team Origin, Artemis Racing, and now INEOS Britannia Team. His responsibility includes imagining, simulating, and designing how the boats are built and turning the team’s ideas into reality.
Tison shares his thoughts on the evolution and future of the Auld Mug:
As the goal is to increase foiling time and avoid touchdowns, the aerodynamic aspect of the boat is becoming more and more crucial. For this reason, the boats are running very close to the water, have two cockpits and, between them, an air tunnel.
To continue this evolution, some Formula 1 car racing teams are now involved. America’s Cup teams and F1 teams work in a very similar manner, as aerodynamic subjects are important for F1 cars as they attempt to generate down force. On our side we are aiming to reduce the part of the air flow slowing us down. It is different but the methods are the same.
It will be interesting to see how this will be translated into the yachts, how the cockpit design, and the mainsail tunnel will be modified. There is a strong impact on the structure and from my side the aim is to bring aerodynamic designers as much freedom wherever we can while saving weight and designing a reliable platform that meets the team’s requirements.
America’s Cup projects provide the engineers with the budget and resources to study very specific areas in depth. We can investigate stress distributions when the loads change rapidly, like under flight conditions or during maneuvers, and experiment with new materials. The racing yachts are the fastest and most complex in the world and the engineering challenge is very exciting.
A winning team must be flexible enough in order to be able to innovate and adapt quickly, especially in a field where nobody can predict where the next big idea will come from.
While working toward the 2013 Match, the introduction of foils on the AC72 was the result of an idea, at the time extremely innovative, conceived by a small group of people in New Zealand. Then this small spark spreads, and we now see foiling multihulls and monohulls also outside of the America’s Cup context.
As an engineer my role is to make things happen, and I feel in my natural environment within the America’s Cup, where there is a strong emphasis on the quest for performance. The collaboration with the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team stimulates all the INEOS team members to push the boundaries even further.
The America’s Cup is constantly evolving to respond to the times and it has already impacted marine transportation, on the water activities with electric foiling boards and dinghy sailing. One is yet to see whether it will impact larger sailing yachts. This is fascinating, this is something I want to engage further with.
Of course, I will always push to design faster and faster boats but we must also resonate with society, bring new progressive ideas, entertain the public, motivate them to discover the sea and enjoy the connection with nature.
Following the publication of the AC37 Protocol and AC75 Class Rule on November 17, 2021, the AC75 Class Rule and AC Technical Regulations were finalized on March 17, 2022. The entry period opened December 1, 2021 and runs until July 31, 2022, but late entries for the 37th America’s Cup may be accepted until May 31, 2023. The Defender was to announce the Match Venue on September 17, 2021 but postponed the venue reveal, confirming it would be Barcelona on by March 30, 2022. The 37th America’s Cup will be held in September/October 2024.