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ORACLE TEAM USA


THE POWER OF TEAMWORK

ORACLE TEAM USA has won the America’s Cups in 2010 and 2013.

Airbus forged a technology partnership with ORACLE TEAM USA as this champion sailing squad defended its title in the 2017 competition for the America’s Cup – the oldest international sports trophy of the modern era (born in 1851), and one of the most difficult to win. 

As Official Innovation Partner of ORACLE TEAM USA, Airbus shared the know-how of its experts in areas such as aerodynamics, instrumentation, simulation, composites, structures, hydraulics and data analysis; While the team’s efforts ultimately fell short of retaining the cup, they nonetheless provided Airbus with valuable lessons from the innovative approach of a world leader in hi-tech sailing. 

By taking on a project of this magnitude that combines extreme technology and sports, Airbus stretched its competencies and further boosted the company’s agility. And since there are so many similarities between the America’s Cup yacht and Airbus’ modern jetliners, each of the two partners benefitted from a platform on which to learn and grow. 

Airbus, Official Innovation Partner of ORACLE TEAM USA for the 2017 America’s Cup


Innovating to the finish line

For more than 160 years, the America’s Cup competition has shown that, while necessary, funding is not the primary factor in winning. This is why a much higher priority is put on design technology and engineering, which are two areas at which Airbus excels. 

ORACLE TEAM USA won the America’s Cup competitions in 2010 and 2013, in which two sailing teams – consisting of the defending champion and a challenger – go head-to-head in match racing. Skipper/helmsman Jimmy Spithill led ORACLE TEAM USA in its last two America’s Cup victories, and will again and “held the reins” again for the 2017 event. 

In 2013, ORACLE TEAM USA successfully defended its title in the AC72 class – a wingsail-powered catamaran that “flew” above the water on hydrofoils at over 50 mph (90 km/h). For the 2017 event, the team raced in the new AC Class (close to 50 ft), which is a smaller, lighter, more finely-engineered foiling catamaran than its predecessor.


Creating a true partnership

Following the innovation partnership between Airbus and ORACLE TEAM USA, announced in 2014, the joint effort moved gradually from the design offices to the open seas. The first on-water tests were carried out successfully in February 2015; afterward, a second phase began at the new team base in Bermuda, joined by Airbus engineers on-site, as they prepared for the launch of the AC Class in February 2017. 

Commenting on the partnership, Airbus President and CEO Fabrice Brégier said: “All at Airbus were very excited about it. Our engineering teams’ enthusiasm and engagement to be a part of this project is simply overwhelming. The biggest challenge might be to bring them back working on airplanes again!”

Supporting challenger SoftBank Team Japan

SoftBank Team Japan, a participant in the 2017 America’s Cup sailing competition, benefitted from a wide range of Airbus expertise.

SoftBank Team Japan benefitted from a wide range of Airbus expertise as it purchased its design package from ORACLE TEAM USA. 

Another participant in the 2017 America’s Cup competition – SoftBank Team Japan – benefitted from Airbus’ expertise as well, having licensed yacht designs from ORACLE TEAM USA that were developed in its ongoing technology partnership with the aircraft manufacturer. 

Per this America’s Cup Protocol, challengers were allowed to purchase basic design packages in order to build certain components of their yacht, thus not incurring the costs of a large design team and lengthy development cycles. As a result, SoftBank Team Japan was also privy to Airbus’ knowledge in fields such as aerodynamics, instrumentation, simulation, composites, structures, hydraulics and data analysis. 

In addition to the innovative designs themselves, SoftBank Team Japan skipper and CEO Dean Barker – a 20-year veteran of America’s Cup – said access to Airbus expertise brought a new approach to the way his team handled some design questions. 

SoftBank Team Japan was created in 2015. Japan has only competed for America’s Cup on three previous occasions, and the 2017 competition marked the first time this nation had been represented since 2000. 

Listen to Nick Holroyd, Technical Director of SoftBank Team Japan, giving his feedback on Airbus being Official Technology Partner of the Challenger.


latest photos

SoftBank Team Japan crew in front of the new AC Class boat after the official unveiling on 25 February 2017SoftBank Team Japan’s new AC Class boat undergoes ceremonial baptism by a priestThe technology partnership forged between Airbus and ORACLE TEAM USA is marked by (from left to right) ORACLE TEAM USA skipper Jimmy Spithill and Fabrice Brégier, President and CEO of Airbus
SoftBank Team Japan crew in front of the new AC Class boat after the official unveiling on 25 February 2017
SoftBank Team Japan’s new AC Class boat undergoes ceremonial baptism by a priest
The technology partnership forged between Airbus and ORACLE TEAM USA is marked by (from left to right) ORACLE TEAM USA skipper Jimmy Spithill and Fabrice Brégier, President and CEO of Airbus

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