MATT SHEAHAN
Yachting World|May 2021
WAS AN ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE ‘BOT’ THE SECRET TO EMIRATES TEAM NEW ZEALAND’S AMERICA’S CUP SUCCESS?

Standing beneath the hull of Te Rehutai, Emirates Team New Zealand’s winning boat in their base at the end of Cup party, was a view no one outside the team had seen before. It was a vantage point many of us craved during the event in order to better understand what made these boats tick. And as the cooler bins were emptied of beer there were selfies being taken aplenty to document this rare opportunity.

Yet, the reality is there was little new on show. Compared to the days of lead bulbs, winged keels and ‘hulas’ there wasn’t much that couldn’t be seen each time Te Rehutai was lifted in and out of the water. The really impressive parts of this boat are the very bits we were never going to be able to see. The black boxes and hydraulic cylinders that make up the controls and systems tell little of what they really do.

This was a generation of extremely complex racing yachts, arguably more so than anything else ever built. Machines that were so power hungry that crews felt the biggest physical risk while racing was of them catching fire. Apparently, the heat below decks when the boats were fully on song was unbelievable.

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