America's Cup: Can Jaguar Land Rover help Team GB secure its first win in 165 years?

Back in 1851, Great Britain started The America's Cup , lost it to the US, and has never won it again since.

165 years later, Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR) hopes to change that, using Formula One-style engineering and design advances to create the fastest racing boat yet.

What is the America's Cup?

The America's Cup is a sailing race, held roughly every four years, with a World Series of races leading up to that.

Points from the series help to narrow down teams until one ultimately faces last year’s winner. The winner then sets the rules for the following competition.

This year, Great Britain, New Zealand, Sweden, France and Japan are battling it out to take the title from the US.

What boats do they sail?

The Cup works in a way that makes it as much an engineering race as a sailing one.

During the World Series stages, the boats are all the same AC45F foiling catamaran models, and the team can make only minor adjustments.

Team BAR won its leg of the World Series last month by flying its boat over the fastest course on its home turf in Portsmouth.

It's the final America’s Cup race where they can build their own ACC (America's Cup Class) boats.

This is when everything learned from data collected in the World Series races goes towards building the fastest boat.

The America’s Cup boats fly over the water at up to 50mph, thanks to hydrofoils and a sail the size of a jumbo jet's wing.

British innovation

As part of the British effort to claim back "The Auld Mug" as it’s affectionately known, Jaguar Land Rover is helping push innovation.

The British car manufacturer's experience with data collection and analysis places it perfectly to help refine and design the fastest boat.

During a session, Jaguar Land Rover’s myriad sensors on the boats collect a hefty 189 million points of data at a rate of 500 per second. That’s compared to 5.8 million from a car over the period of an entire day.

This is where experience, maths and computing come into play, in order to make sense of all that data.

The goal is to find an accurate measure of speed. Sure, you could measure the boat’s speed using GPS – but that's in relation to the Earth.

What if the tide was moving against the boat one day and not another, but the GPS speed read-out was the same? One of those days the boat would be producing more speed to counter the tide.

That true measure of speed will help to show real effects that any design changes have on the boat, leading to an ultimately faster vessel.

Hydraulic power

While the World Series boats use traditional ropes and pulleys that leave the sailors running about the ship working hard, the ACC boats are powered hydraulically.

That doesn't mean the sailors' hard work of 15 hours per week in the gym and over 5,000 calories eaten a day is wasted - they still power everything.

Using what are called grinding stations, which look like bike pedals but for hands, the boat's actuators are effectively powered.

This means hydraulics can move parts of the ship and sail to make manoeuvres, allowing the sailors to stay largely in one place inside the boat for aerodynamics, making it go faster.

Respecting the sea

The boats aren't the only thing powered by renewable energy. Back at base in Portsmouth, team BAR has created a building that works with nature.

The near new base is powered 100% by renewable energy, 20% of which is from its own myriad solar panels.

It even helps nurture its racecourse - the ocean. There are over 1,000 oysters maintained there, each of which can filter 200 litres of water per day.

When can you watch?

The final America's Cup main event will be held in 2017 in Bermuda. The next leg of the World Series leading up to that is in Toulon, over the weekend of September 9.

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