“Why is Dassault Systèmes involved in the America’s Cup?”
I get this question a lot. So, I thought this week, as the America’s Cup is in full swing, would be a good time to answer it clearly. It isn’t about CAD, design, simulation, composites, etc. It is about experience. Larry Ellison and Russell Coutts and the entire Oracle Team USA America’s Cup racing syndicate have changed the experience of the America’s Cup yacht racing sport completely. And not just for the sailors, but for the viewers, too.
The basic story isn’t terribly new. Anybody watching the America’s Cup, reading a newspaper or watching TV has likely heard the story of how Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle and yacht racing enthusiast won the America’s Cup, the oldest trophy in sport, and brought it to San Francisco. Each winner, and subsequently, defender of the Cup is allowed to change the rules of the race. And change them Ellison did: faster boats, bigger boats, no more sails (!), more athleticism, shorter (and more broadcastable) races, a venue where the races can be watched, in person, for free.
The reimagined 34th America’s Cup is going on now, with his Oracle Team USA competing in their 72ft, 50+mph catamaran, against Emirates Team New Zealand in the amphitheater-like San Francisco Bay race course. Emirates is putting up an amazing set of times against Oracle Team USA, beating them in four of five races, as of Tuesday, September 10.
But no matter who wins, Oracle Team USA has shown what can be done by adopting an experience strategy. They went into the 34th America’s Cup with experience on their minds. They don’t just want to have a race. They want to make yacht racing a nationally known sport. They looked at their audience in the United States, looked at our sports, looked at yacht racing, and modified everything about it to create a new experience.
A few months ago I had the privilege of taking ten international journalists to Oracle Team USA’s Pier 80 headquarters in San Francisco and speaking with Russell Coutts, the team’s CEO, Christoph Erbelding, the team’s design engineer, as well as Murray Jones, the team’s tactician. The team’s use of Dassault Systèmes applications to design and manufacture their AC72 racing catamaran was on full display. We heard about design, simulation, finite element analysis, CAD, composites and a host of other details. We saw the two AC72s in the HQ being worked on. We learned details of the wing control system design.
Skipper Jimmy Spithill articulated perfectly the benefits of interactive collaboration between sailing crew and the design and engineering team:
Vision is very important on this sort of a boat. 3DEXPERIENCE gave us vision into the realities of sailing a boat that didn’t even exist yet. The best way for the crew to evaluate what will – and what won’t – work is to use 3DEXPERIENCE. We can spin it around. We can see where everything needs to fit. You just couldn’t get that kind of vision without these tools.
But mostly what the attending yachting journalists wanted to hear about was the race, how it would work and what the sailor’s experience was. The reporters, all sailing enthusiasts themselves, wanted to know what viewers would see and experience.
The story, at its core, is about the America’s Cup experience. And this is why Oracle Team USA and Dassault Systèmes, the 3DEXPERIENCE Company, are partners.