The Road to Bermuda 2017
Managing director Clint Jones recaps his experience at the 35th America’s Cup in Bermuda and the lead-up to this epic event.
When I read about Sir Thomas Lipton and the mighty Js that raced in the America’s Cup at the turn of the century, I never knew that I would one day be part of two America’s Cups.
In early 2011, I saw the first AC 45s by Warkworth’s Core Boat Builders sailing in Auckland and realised that, as a 55-year-old, I had one shot at getting involved. I tracked down New Zealand sailing legend Harold Bennett for a job interview that turned into a sporting dream come true. The Job: to be the on-water camera boat skipper of Cambria and oversee her design and build.
By May 2011, I found myself in the Netherlands, working with a Dutch company to assemble the componentry and systems on this unique boat that would deliver TV coverage of the AC in an entirely new and different way. For the first time in history, the race boats would achieve closing speeds in excess of 50 knots, and little did we know then that foiling was going to be the next major sailing breakthrough.
About Cambria: The boat was designed using existing Extreme 40 hulls with modified hull risers and a custom-built deck and wheelhouse, all of which could be transported around the world in two 40-foot containers. The hulls featured four displacement-reducing foils to settle the stern of the boat at high speed, but only the rear ones have been used in action. Cambria runs three completely separate electrical systems to support the sophisticated technology on board, including a $500,000 USD gyro-stabilised FLIR camera that enables live broadcasting to a shore-based studio. To date, in over 700 hours of broadcasting, we have lost just 12 minutes due to technical glitches. The boat was repowered this year, to keep up with the “Foiling Flyers.”
Fast-forward four years and, as many of you know, I have been working with the broadcast team in Bermuda for the past six weeks as part of the TV team bringing the America’s Cup to millions of sports fans all over the world.
Team New Zealand did not win a sporting battle; they won a technology war against some of the world’s largest and best-funded brands: Oracle, Airbus and BMW, all sitting under the Team Oracle USA banner. Imagine the resources available to them: design teams, wind tunnels and complex software. But little old New Zealand, using determination, focus and innovation, kicked some serious butt! They did it with Kiwi flair and our famous can-do attitude, the things that make me very proud to be a Kiwi.
The global marine industry media are telling the story of how bringing the America’s Cup back to New Zealand will be a game changer for the local marine industry. With New Zealand’s reputation for building world-class boats, there is already a lot of buzz around what this might mean and the opportunities that the Cup will bring. I am confident that all of this will also further the growth of the Oceanmax brand in the coming years.