America’s Cup: Emirates Team NZ wants to set a new speed record at over 100 knots

by Hamish Hooper/ETNZ media Feb 19 11:32 PST
February 20, 2022

Emirates Team New Zealand wind-powered world land speed record design and planning © Emirates Team New Zealand


Emirates Team New Zealand, four-time America’s Cup champions, has announced that it will attempt to set a new world land speed record using wind power, using the design, engineering talents and construction used for the AC75.

The team will work on a project that “sails” at speeds in excess of 100 knots. The current record is 109.5 knots.

Some childhood dreams can become realities, others remain only dreams. For a 10-year-old boy growing up in Bendigo, Australia, his childhood dream was to go faster than anyone else, propelled by the wind.

Speed ​​has always been at the center of Glenn Ashby’s existence, on yachts, motorcycles or land yachts. The quest for speed has earned her 3 America’s Cups, an Olympic silver medal and 17 world championships in 4 different boat classes.

Following the 36th America’s Cup victory in 2021, the stars aligned for Ashby and Emirates Team New Zealand, of which he has been an integral part for more than 10 years, combining his life’s ambition with the depth of design , technology and innovation from Emirates Team. New Zealand. While utilizing the window of opportunity that existed with the usual lull in AC activity during the transition from the 36th to the 37th America’s Cup.


Emirates Team New Zealand has always commissioned external contracts to keep the design team sharp and engaged during these times. So when the independently funded project to attempt to break the world wind land speed record emerged, it was not difficult to find designers, engineers and shore crews willing to put their talents to use. race, from being the fastest on the water in the America’s Cup to being the fastest on land ever.

The speed record attempt has been a common talking point for several years between Ashby and ETNZ CEO Grant Dalton, who himself has long had an interest in such a record. “Wind-propelled land speed record is something that has always interested me, so in bringing a design challenge like this to ETNZ, I knew it would be beneficial on many fronts to keep the techs and the organization’s innovators engaged during downtime with complex new technical problems to solve with a cool project.” said Dalton

Glenn Ashby has been like a cat on a hot tin roof at the end of dozens of Zoom calls to the Emirates Team New Zealand base unable to return to New Zealand for the past 10 months.

“I’ve never spent so much time on the computer as I did last year,” Ashby explained. “Basically, from the time the Dalts said ‘let’s look at this’ after AC36 ended, we all went. The first job was a two-week in-depth feasibility study to ensure sufficient overall understanding that it was something that could be done in a positive way for ETNZ and would not impact the team and its America’s Cup goals financially or resource-wise.”

Since then, the core group of Guillaume Verdier, Romaric Neyhousser, Benjamin Muyul, Jeremy Palmer, Romain Gard, Tim Meldrum, Sean Regan, Adrian Robb, Jarrod Hammond and Dave French have worked on the new design and engineering challenges entirely focused on beating the existing wind land speed world record of 202.9 km/h (126.1 mph or 109.5 knots) which was set in 2009 by Richard Jenkins at Greenbird.

Ashby paid tribute to Richard Jenkins whose record he is trying to conquer. “As we did our research and delved deeper and deeper into the intricacies of the design challenges, it became very evident that Richard has truly done an amazing job with his world record design.” Ashby said. “As a team, we explored some pretty creative and innovative design ideas in the quest for more speed, but in the end, our design and performance principles evolved into a reasonably similar concept in basic layout to the existing record holder, which really underlined for us what a huge challenge this will be.”

Without a silver bullet in terms of breakthrough design, and quite as predicted at the 37th America’s Cup with the next generation AC75, the gains will come down to small improvements and refinements that add up to progress and success. global.

“As with the America’s Cup, we just have to do better at every level using our experience, skills and tools acquired as a team to date,” explained Ashby, “And then, like sailing, it there are always the weather gods and doing everything we can to be ready when the right conditions are there.”

Emirates Team New Zealand director Matteo de Nora, who is a big supporter of the world record attempt, makes it clear why now is the time to take on the challenge. territory with Ineos Britannia and Mercedes and Alinghi and Red Bull Racing to start. It’s no coincidence and focuses on top speeds and lessons that can be learned the faster you can go. So this project will be beneficial in continuing to evolve and learn a lot more in the aerodynamic field, which was a big factor in AC36.” said de Nora.

From a design and engineering point of view, Guillaume Verdier explained “this project is really compelling for all of us. There are a lot of similarities with what we do with fast sailboats in terms of aerodynamics and forces structural, construction methods, materials etc., so we are well placed in many respects. But without a doubt, no boat we ever design will go as fast as we need our land yacht. So, with the “Increased speed comes from increased complexities, but we’re sure those are complexities we can learn from so we can make our next AC75 faster.”

The obvious element of uncertainty and point of difference for all Emirates Team New Zealand designers is the tire technology and the dynamic forces associated with the tires on the ground, as opposed to the hydrodynamic forces on the foils in the water.

“That’s the big unknown for us,” explained ETNZ mechanical engineer Tim Meldrum. “Tires on a flat salty surface going over 200km/h are very different to foils in the water at over 50 knots. The rules say we have to ride on a natural flat surface. The best we know where it can be windy are dry salt lakes.Because the tires are the only point of contact with the salt, it’s a pretty big factor in finding the sweet spot to maintain enough grip, with the least amount of rolling resistance.

Our machine compared to a speed record motorized car has many differences. First of all our “engine” – a wing in our case really delivers little thrust compared to a racing combustion engine. So anything that works against that thrust – wheel rolling resistance and aerodynamic drag has been a high priority to reduce if we’re going to hit high speeds. Second, our wing creates a lot of side load on the main rear wheels – so we need to provide grip to keep it straight. An aerodynamic downforce wing like the ones used in F1 to help cornering grip would deprive us of too much speed, so we chose to add variable ballast to allow us to adjust our level of grip. The extra weight primarily affects our acceleration time but does not compromise aerodynamic drag. The trade-off is that we can go faster, but end up using more trail to reach our top speed. Fortunately, our circuit is 8 km wide.”

Another conflicting issue with the norm in the America’s Cup concerns weight. In AC75s, the less weight in the boat, the easier it will be to fly and the faster it will be. With a sand yacht, weight is an advantage in some ways, says construction manager Sean Regan: “At land speed, weight will be our friend if it’s used in the right place. That way we can fine-tune our construction techniques that take into account the extra weight in certain aspects and not be so focused on weight savings. On the spinnaker pole nacelle, we actively add weight or ballast to counter the force of the wind on the sail of the wing, otherwise the craft would overturn. This is not something we want for Glenn approaching such high speeds.”

But like a scale measuring gold, the weight still has to be precise. Too little the outboard tire will lift off the ground losing contact, too much will add unnecessary resistance and lose valuable clicks of speed.

It’s these kinds of design issues that will need to be overcome in the generally condensed prospect of a July/early August world record shot that Ashby and the team are striving to attempt on one of the vast salt lakes. of Australia with Lake Gairdner. in South Australia or Lake Lefroy in Western Australia as potential locations.

Any world record must be rigorously verified and will require North America Land Speed ​​Association officials to measure and record the race with a specific set of rules that must be met to qualify for the world record.

For now, the craft is already under construction at the Emirates Team New Zealand construction facility on the north coast of Auckland. “Construction is expected to be completed by the end of March, with assembly, commissioning and preliminary testing in Auckland thereafter.” says Sean Regan. “The plan is to then pack the gear and equipment in containers and ship it all to South West Australia and truck it to the record attempt location where a small team will be based from July for testing, then eventually a world record sprint shot.

“Obviously the goal is to design a boat that becomes the fastest wind-powered land yacht of all time. said Glenn Ashby “And nobody would ever have been so fast in a wind-engine on or off the water. So that’s a damn exciting thing to try to become.”