From plastic boats to pedal power – New Zealand has been at the forefront of innovation in the America’s Cup since their first start in 1987. It’s ingenious thinking that has changed the world of sailing forever.
New Zealand has won sporting’s oldest trophy, the America’s Cup, three times since they began competing in 1987 – and they’ve done it with some amazing sailing, and a whole lot of ingenious thinking. Here are four innovations in America’s Cup sailing since Kiwis hit the scene.
1987 - Plastic fantastic!
Straight out of the blocks the Kiwis stunned the competition with their first bid for the America’s Cup. The fibre glass hull raised many an eyebrow when KZ-7 Kiwi Magic slipped through the waters off Freemantle. With a hull 20x the strength of their aluminium-bodied counterparts, this type of composite construction pioneered by the New Zealanders is now the norm for racing yachts.
2013 – Flying boats?
No one really expected to see boats flying across the top of the water, but in 2013 America’s Cup racing was transformed forever. The foils on the new AC72 catamarans created enough life to support the weight of five saloon cars on the surface area of an ordinary desk. New Zealand innovated and made the giant cats fly despite rules aimed to keep them on the water. Since then, the performance of America’s Cup boats has increased exponentially – a far cry from the wooden-hulled hulks that fought for the cup 170 years ago.
2017 – Pedal-power to the people.
Once again the Kiwis surprised the world when they unveiled their radical new ‘cyclors’ concept on the AC50s. Team New Zealand took innovation to the next step by replacing traditional arm-powered grinding with pedal power. This enabled a significant performance-enhancing advantage, with the grinders using leg-power to raise and lower the foils, pull the huge wing sail, and keep the boat flying. That year New Zealand proved that winning was indeed as easy as riding a bike.
2021 – Monohull magic.
For America’s Cup 36 Emirates Team New Zealand, in partnership with Luna Rossa, developed a new class of boat – the AC75s. These spectacular 75-foot foiling monohulls fly along at up to four times the speed of the wind that’s pushing them, recording speeds of over 50 knots, that’s nearly 100 km! It’s a testament to the innovation and expertise of the New Zealand marine industry, and you really must ask – what’ll they think of next?
Read more about the history of the Auld Mug and Emirates Team New Zealand here.
Looking for a country that can’t stop innovating? We know a place.