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They Say You Should Never Meet Your Heroes

I challenged this famous adage when I met Iain Percy – one of my heroes of this year’s edition of the America’s Cup –  at the Altair Technology Conference (ATC) in Detroit, held on October 9th and 10th at Cobo Hall. Iain was the Team Manager and Tactician of Artemis Racing, which chose Altair as their technical supplier for the 35th edition of the cup.

While it was exciting to have a chat with him in the hallway, he truly lit up the stage with his speech. The entire auditorium was captivated with America’s Cup’s mix of technology, heroism and a little bit of craziness, especially when showing what’s arguably one of the world’s closest maneuver at high speed as happened between Team Softbank Japan and Artemis in the Cup’s semifinals.

Artemis Team engineers used RADIOSS and OptiStruct to design and verify the performance of their composites structures. Particular attention was put on the boat’s hydrofoils and rudders. These are lifting the entire boat out of the water and undergo extreme loads of several tons while being made from partially solid carbon fiber composites at a weight of roughly 90 kilograms each. Given that the tip deflection of a daggerboard can be one meter under full load, Altair’s solver RADIOSS and its Fluid-structure Interaction (FSI) capabilities were crucial in the design process. OptiStruct, our solver for nonlinear structural analysis and optimization, was used for detailed composites analyses of the composite structures. A correct layout of the tight corners of the L-shaped daggerboards and T-shaped rudders were crucial, as these are the areas where the highest splitting forces occurred.

It was good to hear Iain reporting that team Artemis was acknowledged by the competition for having the best validated models of their foils in the fleet and that they officially had “bragging rights” for the highest top speeds; these boats reach top speeds of close to 50 knots (57.5 mph or 92.6 kph). Interesting for Iain to say, they stressed their boards twice as much as Team Oracle did when comparing notes after the cup was over.

I was impressed with Iain’s honesty when he looked back saying how much more they could have been driving their design if they would have taken more advantage from a simulation-driven design approach. This validated Altair’s long-standing vision to accelerate the product design cycle with simulation.

With the rules being reshaped by the new defender of the next America’s cup, Team New Zealand, it is not entirely clear whether Team Artemis will participate in the next competition. But if they do, we will be happy to help them with the full strength of our software and knowledge, eventually getting the ultimate prize: winning the cup!

In conclusion, my personal take away from the experience: I highly recommend to meet your heroes!

Check out more presentations from ATC East in Detroit: