A race against time

The America's Cup – The race of a lifetime

The race for the America's Cup starts years before any boat makes it into the water. At Siemens, we’ve been working as part of the crew for Land Rover BAR to develop the next generation of racing catamaran.

Americas Cup racing in Bermuda

The America’s Cup challenge is well underway

In the middle of 2014, the Land Rover BAR team began a 2 1/2-year timetable to design, evaluate and verify an ACC (America’s Cup Class) catamaran. Crucially, teams are not allowed to launch their America’s Cup Class catamarans until 150 days before the first event of the 2017 America’s Cup Qualifiers in Bermuda on 26 May. The bulk of design, analysis and performance testing must be completed on much smaller-scale test models. 


The odds are stacked against any new entrant winning the America’s Cup, but for Land Rover BAR past statistics do not matter. What counts is the prospect of bringing the America’s Cup home to Britain for the first time since the inaugural race took place in 1851. Sir Ben Ainslie, Olympic medalist and 34th America’s Cup winner, does not underestimate the scope of the ambition. “It is a really big challenge on all fronts. We have established a new team from scratch; we have the right philosophy and the right design tools and we are catching up with existing teams; yet we are operating under tremendous time pressure. That’s the toughest aspect.” 

Accelerating the design process

At the pinnacle of sailing technology

Martin Whitmarsh, chief executive officer of Land Rover BAR, underlines the technical challenge: “Performance differentiation is usually created by shaping a hull to reduce drag; enhancing the way in which keel and rudder systems create a ‘righting’ moment; and using the sails for maximum thrust. These principles still apply to the America’s Cup, but only one percent of the surface area of the boats is actually in the water when they are racing. Aerodynamic considerations therefore become supremely important, especially as these boats can go 2.8 times the speed of the wind.”


The design team must produce a light and efficient system that can cope with enormous loads yet remain within the margins of safety. For Land Rover BAR, the use of NX™ and Teamcenter® is critical for simulating the performance of the daggerboards (retractable keels); evaluating the aeroelastic capability of the wing; defining the behavior of composite materials; modeling the hydraulic systems; optimizing development processes; and streamlining workflows.


For Sir Ben Ainslie, team principal and skipper of Land Rover BAR, the only way to validate the design process is to go out on the water. “The sailing crew is a delivery mechanism for the designers. We are constantly fine-tuning the boat by sailing it and providing feedback to the design team.”


The fastest boat wins

By the start of 2016, testing was fully underway and the America’s Cup Class wing-foiled catamaran was in development. In the technologically driven environment of Land Rover BAR, the engineering team dictates the tests that the sailing team must conduct. The team’s DELL EMC Mission Control center has a live video link to the test boat and designers can see exactly what is happening as they assess data received from the various sensors positioned around the boat. Sailing can then be followed by a thorough and informative debriefing session for sailors and engineers.

Hundreds of CFD geometries at the press of a button

The shape of a daggerboard dictates how effective it is in converting forward motion into lift and Land Rover BAR relies heavily on the ability of NX to produce hundreds of geometries at the press of a button. “Automated geometry and speedy shape generation are particularly important to us when working on the daggerboards,” says Simon Schofield, designer, Land Rover BAR. “We can quickly assess different shapes then confirm range of motion and check for clash.”

The Land Rover BAR designers really need to understand the limits of what is both possible and desirable.

Likewise, the fixed wing sail, which acts as the engine of the boat, is crucial to speed. The rules of the race are strict on wing weight and deformation. The Land Rover BAR designers really need to understand the limits of what is both possible and desirable. They have therefore coupled a fully detailed 3D model of the wing using NX, with a highlevel stick model developed with FemapTM software, and a detailed composite model created using the FibersimTM portfolio. This combination of models is being used with computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analysis tools from Siemens PLM Software.

Simulation of the behavior of composite layers and understand how they degrade under stress

Land Rover BAR is also using NX scripting capabilities to assist in simulation of the behavior of composite layers and understand how they degrade under stress. Andy Claughton, the team’s chief technology officer explains, “Our laminate analysis process enables us to get answers very quickly. We are still fine-tuning it, using the power of NX scripting and open capabilities to customize workflows, remove clicks and improve efficiency. As a result, we have been able to improve the way in which we send information to the shop floor. We can send laminate drawings or we can send flattened patterns that allow the manufacturer to set up automatic pattern generation and cut directly, guaranteeing precision.”

Use of Teamcenter controls the release process and governs all workflows leading up to manufacturing

Teamcenter is used to manage all technical files and documents so that specifications, design calculations, analysis data, simulation results and material properties are in the correct order and associated with the right CAD models. The team’s use of Teamcenter controls the release process and governs all workflows leading up to manufacturing. This enables 15 to 20 people to collaborate very closely on the same model. Claughton notes, “Teamcenter is doing all the things it is really good at: maintaining a secure CAD vault, controlling the issue of drawings and feeding them out to the supply chain. “Teamcenter condenses everything into one single environment. Now that we have a library of parts and established workflows, we do not always have to start from scratch. Each boat moves on from the last and we frequently use the clone tool to clone particular parts or subsystems and quickly try out a different approach.”

Everything stems from a robust CAD model

Together, NX and Teamcenter enable a complete and comprehensive development process from concept to the surface of the sea. “The ability of NX to generate geometries quickly and easily is fundamental because every question we ask ourselves starts with geometry,” says Claughton. “Everything stems from a robust CAD model. Only then can we analyze weight and behavior; produce renderings to show the sailing team the controls and displays; or print plastic samples for the sailors and shore crew to check.”


Tools that can be trusted

The Land Rover BAR team is using NX™ software and Teamcenter® software from product lifecycle management (PLM) specialist Siemens PLM Software. NX and  Teamcenter provide an integrated virtual environment for digital modeling and simulation. Software implementation, training and support services are being provided by Siemens PLM Platinum Partner Majenta PLM. 

To win the America’s Cup with a British team, to bring the America’s Cup home for the first time in its history would be the most amazing experience and for sure a career highlight. The Siemens PLM Software systems really enable us to collate our ideas and make sure they are put into practice. That’s why we wanted to partner with Siemens PLM Software.

Sir Ben Ainslie, Team principal and skipper of Land Rover BAR


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