North Technology Group and The America's Cup - Through the Test of Time

Danielle Neri

NTG contributes sails, wings, and design horsepower to 34th Americas Cup finalists.

The Emirates Team New Zealand AC72 foiling inside San Francisco Bay.

With the 34th America’s Cup shift to wing sails, we’ve all heard the question, “How has the America’s Cup use of wings affected business for North Sails?”

North Technology Group (NTG) has maintained an evolving relationship with the Cup since the 1970s, and has been the sole provider to cup finalists since the first carbon sails on Il Moro de Venzia in 1992. The truth is, NTG contributes to the America’s Cup in many significant ways. The list is long, but we’ve simplified it here:

Building Wings
"For the 2013 Cup, it was clear from the beginning that to stay in the game we not only needed to build sails, we needed to build wings" said Jay Hansen, COO of North Technology Group.

NTG welcomed this challenge with the initiation of a Shared Design Package for the America’s Cup Race Management, completed in fall 2011. Since then Southern Spars has built a total of four wings for America’s Cup syndicates Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ) and Luna Rossa Challenge.

To see footage of Southern's gleaming new wing at the christening for Luna Rossa's AC72 click here (@1m30s).

Building Sails
All America's Cup sail programs use North 3Di structures. 3Di technology allows precise control over the placement and orientation of material within the sail, achieving more balanced resistance to distortion in all directions. It is the most advanced form of sailmaking on the market.

North Sails' North American production design and R+D staffs are working with the America’s Cup teams on a daily basis. In the lead up to the Cup, Jeff Neri (Production Manager, North Sails 3D) coordinated AC syndicate requests for R+D support with the Minden lab and materials engineers.

More information on North’s 3Di technology can be found here.

Designing Software
Through their involvement with the Shared Design Package, Michael Richelsen and Mike Schreiber (North Sails PRG Designers) completed a version of MemBrain for wings. With this development designers are able to test a wing, spar, and sail as one cohesive unit or “engine above deck”. Michael Richelsen continued to use the new program on a daily basis in his work for Luna Rossa Challenge, as do many other North Sails designers working for top America’s Cup syndicates (listed below).

To read about the North Design Suite of software click here.

North Sails Performance Resource Group (PRG)
North contributes to the America’s Cup through the provision of our top designers to various Cup teams.

For Artemis Racing:
Steve Calder (North Sails PRG): Sail Design Group
Juan Garay (North Sails Argentina): Sail Design Group
Gautier Sergent (North Sails PRG): Sail Design Group
Thomas Richard (Thin Ply Technology): collaboration with Artemis Structural Team
For Emirates Team New Zealand:
Burns Fallow (North Sails New Zealand): Sail Design Coordinator
Steve Wilson (Southern Spars): Wing Design coordinator
For Oracle Team USA:
Micky Ikert (North Sails New Zealand): Lead Sail Designer
JB Braun (North Sails PRG): Aerodynamics Design Group
For Luna Rossa Challenge:
Mike Schreiber (North Sails PRG): Lead Sail and Wing Designer
Michael Richelsen (North Sails PRG): Aerodynamics Coordinator
Julian Pilate (Southern Spars): Wing Structure and Design
North Sails Technical Backup and Support:
Doug Slocum (North Sails Marblehead DS) and Philip Williamson (North Sails Toronto DS) provide support in the form of computing horsepower for the sail designers on each team.

Jay Hansen commented on the progress North has made in the ramp up to the 34th America's Cup, pointing out that NTG is now the only commercial wing manufacturer in the world, "Having internal capabilities is invaluable and North Technology Group has always been famous for that. There is always room to grow, and we have the skills to do so."