British challenger for the America’s Cup Ben Ainslie Racing will test AC62 design ideas with a simulator. Former McLaren Advanced Technologies wizard James Roche leads the development of the F1 style AC62 simulator.
Just as Formula 1 limits track testing time, America’s Cup teams face restrictions on sailing time in their AC62 catamarans. BAR is the first team to talk about their plans to use a simulator to let the sailors test design ideas before they get built and to train maneuvers off the water.
An intimidating array of computers, hard drives, circuit boards and displays drive electrical actuators that connect to powerful hydraulic rams. A platform on top of the rams supports the cockpit, complete with steering wheel. Crew wear 3D headsets and earphones. The advances in 3D headset technology have led to a lower cost way to display the simulated sailing environment and to a more immersive experience for the crew.
The design team will use the simulator to develop concepts for the AC62 and to test their performance prediction tools. Design team members Jason Ker and Johannes Mausolf are writing the physics model with Roche. The mathematical models used for calculating theoretical performance will be exactly the same models that drive the simulator, providing a positive feedback loop for developers. The sailors will use the simulator to train in complete safety and when they cannot be on the water. The two groups – sailors and designers – will have more effective communications thanks to the way each group uses the simulator.