Bernasconi updates on Team NZ build as HP comes on board

ETNZ Head of Design Dan Bernasconi talks about HP computing used to develop the next America’s Cup yacht. Video / Supplied
By: Chris Keall Business writer, NZ Herald @ChrisKeall

ETNZ Head of Design Dan Bernasconi talks about HP computing used to develop the next America’s Cup

Some saw the move back to monohulls for the 2021 America’s Cup as a shift of emphasis from high-tech to more traditional sailing.

But the foils put paid to that. Sitting out of the water, the 2021 boats will be able to hit up to 50 knots – or 92.6km/h in land-lubbing terms.

The 75-foot foiling monohulls will need a lot of tech in their design process, and operation – or, quite simply, somebody’s going to get hurt.

“The G-forces in the tight turns will be phenomenal,” Emirates Team NZ design head Dan Bernasconi says.

“So a big part of the design process is the structural design, which goes hand-in-hand with the fluid dynamics design, and both of those are computationally-based.”

And so it is that tech company HP has signed on as an official sponsor for Emirates Team New Zealand.

The multinational has supported Team NZ before – but was an official supplier in Bermuda – but this time it’s both cash and kind and it’ll be the first time HP gets its logo on the boat as it upgrades to official sponsor.

HP NZ managing director Grant Hopkins won’t put an exact figure on the deal, but says it runs to the “single-digit millions”.

Speaking to the Herald ahead of today’s announcement, Bernasconi said designing America’s Cup boats used to rely to a large degree on intuition, plus real-world tests.

But now the days of creating a physical model then putting it through its paces in a wind tunnel or drag tank are gone. Design has gone all-digital. Cue a bank of HP workstations and servers.

Bernasconi showed the Herald some prototype “honeycomb” for AC75’s hull created by an HP 3D printer, using nylon.

Emirates Team New Zealand CEO Grant Dalton and HP New Zealand Managing Director Grant Hopkins at today's sponsorship announcement. Photo / Supplied.
Emirates Team New Zealand CEO Grant Dalton and HP New Zealand Managing Director Grant Hopkins at today’s sponsorship announcement. Photo / Supplied.

The honeycomb – of which no photos are allowed – is not currently part of Team NZ’s construction plan but Bernasconi says it shows where things are heading.

The honeycomb sits between two sheets of carbon fibre, and the 3D-printed nylon prototype is lighter than traditional materials like aluminium of kevlar and can be moulded to the shape of the hull in areas with intricate geometries, the lead designer says.

Bernasconi adds that an HP 3D printer is also being used to create test versions of mechanical components for controlling the boat’s sail. It’s a quick, easy way of making prototypes, and could end up being used for the real thing.

Emirates Team New Zealand CEO Grant Dalton. Photo / Supplied.
Emirates Team New Zealand CEO Grant Dalton. Photo / Supplied.

Hopkins says HP’s Jet Fusion 3D 4200 printer – the model employed by Team NZ – is also being used by North Canterbury motor racing specialist Rodin Cars, and Australian-based iOrthotics, which develop custom-made orthotic devices for podiatrists.

We’re not talking a $300 consumer 3D model, incidentally, the JetFusion line begins at around $295,000 – though it’s billed as 50 per cent cheaper than more traditional industrial design alternatives, and faster.

Paying the bills

HP will also work on signage for sails – necessary to pay the bills, though Bernasconi notes that other teams can do without logos (however lightweight) full-stop because of their billionaire backers.

“We’re the only team that’s really commercially funded. The other big teams have a much higher percentage of private funding so don’t rely on as much branding or sponsorship,” Bernasconi says.

“The engineers are always debating the amount of branding on the boat, because everything has a weight, but we understand who’s paying the bills,” he adds.

HP’s logo will be on the foil, where it won’t be affecting this aerodynamically. Hopkins says it was chosen because it was the most high-tech component.

Emirates Team New Zealand Head of Design Dan Bernasconi and HP Managing Director Grant Hopkins. Photo / Supplied.
Emirates Team New Zealand Head of Design Dan Bernasconi and HP Managing Director Grant Hopkins. Photo / Supplied.

How is Team NZ tracking overall?

“We’re well into construction of our first AC75 yacht at our own yard,” Bernasconi says.

“And that’s going very well. No major hiccups.

“The bottleneck at the moment is the supply of the foil arms.

“There are a few components that, for cost-saving reasons, will be standard-supplied for all teams – and the foil arms are being designed by Luna Rossa and built by a yard in Italy.

“We’re expecting those foil arms to be complete around July. And as soon as we have those in New Zealand, we’ll be able to go sailing.”


My partner and I approached David at Re3dtech with our project and were greeted with kind and caring service. Throughout the last couple of months we have placed several orders in varying size and were even able to sit down with David and the owner to discuss our needs as a small business. Through this sit down we saw their passion for assisting both small and large clients in achieving their goals. We even had a hiccup with a batch of prints that was immediately addressed and remedied with precision and care. I almost don't want to recommend these guys because I feel like I have stumbled upon a hidden gem in 3D printing services and selfishly want to keep it to myself. Jokes aside we will be continuing our business relationship with the folks there and look forward to growing our order quantities and business with their help.
Re3DTech was instrumental in helping us get our product, Stroba™, to market faster! We needed a technology that could do snap fits and looks and feels as close the injection molded part as possible, and Re3D Tech was there for us. We used SOLIDWORKS Make to get in touch originally, upload models directly, and sign an NDA directly with their excellent team. It was really simple and easy to use their quoting tool as well. Excellent prices, excellent lead times, and superior quality are perfect words to describe our experience with Re3DTech. We went through many prototypes for Stroba™, and we at Goodfriend Innovations™ use Re3DTech for our other rapid prototyping jobs to help get our additional productions out to market faster than the competition. 5 Stars
I provided RE3DTECH three laser scanned ".stl" files for 3-D printing of prototypes. I used their on-line quote and file delivery process. The file acceptance and resultant quote were returned quickly. The parts were received at the quoted time. The parts are quite complex with many holes, angles, curvatures and notches. Each of the parts came out identical to the scanned parts dimensionally and passed the form/fit/function test in the upper level assembly. RE3DTECH has a high quality business process and produces high quality products. I will use them for future prototyping projects and recommend RE3DTECH.
Re3dtech is one of the most honest and reputable companies we have done business with. We decided to look into options for getting parts made in the USA for the retail market. It was awesome to find a local company with humble staff looking to provide their services meeting our criteria, not to mention meeting the Re3tech crew face to face and checking out their operation. Peter was very honest, knowledgable about design. Peter's creative element made working with him a great pleasure. Jim's flexibility was a breath of fresh air and greatly appreciated. CentralSound is proud to scratch the surface with Made in the USA parts in the retail market now, thanks to Re3dtech. Hope to do more business with them in the future.
Re3dtech has consistently delivered the best service I have ever received in the industry. Their response time is unmatched and they always stand by their parts and quality. They regularly make me look like an all star at my job.
It is always a pleasure to have a vendor that provides quality, experience, and always shows as much care for your order, and your product as you do!