The NZ technology behind the America’s Cup

The NZ technology behind the America’s Cup

29 June 2017

Chris Burgess / Customer Manager NZTE / New Zealand

The 2017 America's Cup marked a tremendous victory for Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ). But the regatta was also a win for a group of innovative New Zealand businesses, whose world-leading technology underpinned both the ETNZ challenge and the competition itself.

Here's a closer look at just some of the New Zealand companies that played a part in the America's Cup story – and how they’re solving problems and delivering value to customers around the world.

Southern Spars

Southern Spars specialises in the design and construction of carbon fibre masts, booms and rigging.

America's Cup play: Southern Spars were responsible for creating the hull and wing mast of ETNZ's Cup-winning catamaran. A team of 10 workers put in over 200,000 hours in 18 months to complete the work.

Did you know? Innovative both on the water and off, Southern Spars engineered the cycling wheels used by New Zealand's Olympic Track Cycling team at Rio 2016.


C-Tech is a premium marine composites manufacturer based in Auckland, New Zealand, with a passion for sailing, a proud yachting history, and extensive experience across a broad range of applications.

America's Cup play:  C-Tech built ETNZ’s team’s foils, and also supplied most of the other America's Cup teams with prods and a number of compression struts. 

Did you know?  C-Tech worked overtime building components for ETNZ throughout the competition – including a 'go-fast' package rushed to Bermuda to get the team back racing after a dramatic capsize. Read the article here.

Salthouse Boatbuilders

Salthouse Boatbuilders build yachts and powerboats for customers worldwide. When John Salthouse formed the company in 1956, materials like carbon fibre and nomex were more than 30 years away from being used in the construction of boats – and Salthouse has been part of these evolutions over more than sixty years in business.

America's Cup play: Salthouse Boatbuilders were tasked with the critical job of building ETNZ's rescue boats for the 2017 America's Cup.

Rivers Carbon

Rivers Carbon is a specialist carbon fibre manufacturer based in Auckland, New Zealand, designing and making composite products for many industries including marine, mining, automotive, aerospace and medical equipment.

America's Cup play: Rivers Carbon has one of the biggest computer-controlled autoclave pressure chambers in Australasia, and cured the foils and rudders for Emirates Team New Zealand and Oracle, along with Team Japan. The foils, made of pre-impregnated carbon fibre, were 'baked' over 24 hours at temperatures controlled within one degree. With several competitors seeking a performance edge, secrecy was the order of the day – Rivers Carbon arranged for teams to deliver components at different times, and closed their factory doors when moving parts in and out of the autoclave, to prevent teams from seeing each other's foils.

Did you know? Rivers Carbon is delivering carbon fibre chassis for the new Formula 5 racing cars which will be part of the Australian V8 Supercars series – and has also created carbon fibre monorail systems and ventilation tubes for leading mining companies in Australia.

Tait Communications

Tait Communications is a global leader in designing, delivering and managing critical communications solutions.

America's Cup play: Tait Communications provided ETNZ with 22 of the latest Tait TP9400 digital portable radios, providing the sailors and support crew with highly secure, crystal-clear communications on the water. The radios featured sophisticated encryption – vital for keeping ETNZ's secrets safe from competitors.

Did you know? Tait's unique encrypted radio technology is also used by police forces around the world to protect sensitive communications from eavesdroppers.

Virtual Eye

Virtual Eye is a world leader in real-time 3D sports graphics for television, Internet and mobile devices.

America's Cup play: For the 2017 America's Cup, Virtual Eye provided broadcast graphics and tracking, mobile apps, sailing simulators, VR multiplayer environments, and interactive displays. Virtual Eye's 3D graphics make it possible to explain sailing to the audience in a new way – showing the entire racecourse including marks, the boats' speed and direction, and even the estimated time needed for one boat to catch up to the other. Originally designed for television broadcasters, this technology has also been adopted by the syndicates themselves to help uncover competitors' secrets – including Oracle during this America's Cup.

Did you know? As well as sailing, Virtual Eye delivers 3D animation for golf, sailing, cricket, airsports, motorsport and more.

Jackson Electrical

Jackson Electrical is a company specialising in composite engineering and precision machining for the marine industry – and beyond.

America's Cup play: The relationship between Jackson Electrical and ETNZ goes back over 20 years, working together to supply large-format CNC machining and power distribution systems. Jackson supplied a CNC mould builder to help create ETNZ's foils for the 2017 America's Cup, and members of ETNZ's engineering and construction team have also worked at Jackson's premises in Auckland, New Zealand for several years – with the combined team producing dozens of parts including dagger boards, rudders, elevators and other AC50 components.

Did you know? Jackson's CNC machinery is also used for motorway mouldings. Here’s an example.


PredictWind is a unique weather forecasting product, bringing the highest-quality tools and forecasts to sailors all around the world.

America's Cup play: PredictWind's weather predicting software was used in the 2017 America's Cup, and gives any local sailor around the world access to the same information as winning America's Cup teams. 

Did you know? PredictWind's technology is also being used in cruising, fishing, kitesurfing, powerboats and windsurfing.

Vesper Marine

Vesper Marine manufactures award-winning, innovative marine safety products that utilise the Automatic Identification System (AIS). Unlike ordinary AIS, which only sends and receives data, smartAIS from Vesper Marine is an active AIS system with smart alarm logic, giving proactive alerts before a collision happens. It also alerts the crew if their vessel is dragging its anchor – as well as continually watching for a man overboard, and triggering an alarm for quick action if needed.

America's Cup play: The America's Cup Event Authority used Vesper Marine's Guardian AIS system to provide a navigation perimeter of the Bermuda racecourse, which was updated in real time as course changes were made – ensuring safe racing and protecting the large number of on-the-water spectators.

Did you know? Vesper Marine's Guardian technology was employed in the Indian Ocean search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, to create a safety zone around the search vessels. It's also used by telecommunications and power companies to keep vessels away from submarine cables when anchoring.

Dynamic Composites

Based in Christchurch, New Zealand, Dynamic Composites designs, develops and manufactures innovative, high-performance composite products.

America's Cup play: Milton Bloomfield, Owner and Technical Director of Dynamic Composites, designed the carbon fibre steering wheel used by ETNZ. Five were made in total for the 2017 America's Cup campaign.

Did you know? Dynamic Composites was also involved in the creation of Martin Aircraft's personal jetpack, the foldable electric Yike Bike, and the design, development and manufacture of the bike New Zealand athlete Hayden Roulston rode to silver at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Bloomfield also designed the graphite bike frame used by New Zealand Olympic gold medallist Sarah Ulmer in the 2004 Athens Olympics. Check out this news story for more.

Core Builders Composites

Core Builders Composites utilises state-of-the-art equipment for composite tooling and manufacturing of composite parts.

America's Cup play: Core Builders Composites is the builder of Oracle's foils, moulds, and components.

Did you know? Core Builders Composites has been active in creating a composite design for SkyPath, a proposed clip-on walking and cycling path for Auckland's Harbour Bridge – the largest bridge in New Zealand. They also assisted the New Zealand Institute of Architects with their 2016 Venice Biennale Exhibition, named Future Islands. The 'islands' – shells of fibreglass, carbon fibre or infused hemp – were made by Core Builders Composites.


Igtimi is an electronics and communications technology development house based in Dunedin, in New Zealand's South Island. The company's flagship product, YachtBot, is a GPS tracking system that provides live, online performance analytics and visualisation for sailors, coaches, clubs and events.

America's Cup play: YachtBot was used by the America's Cup organising authority in Bermuda to monitor the locations of more than 40 media and mark-setting boats. The system allowed race organisers to build a 'virtual stadium' on the water, and establish a virtual 'seating plan' for nearly one thousand superyachts, VIPs and the spectating public.