Team New Zealand achieved ''quite staggering'' increases in
boat speed during its intensive build-up to the America's Cup
races in San Francisco last year, the team's senior design
engineer, Andy Kensington, said in Dunedin yesterday.
He was commenting during a ''Battle of the Boats'' lecture,
also involving Oracle Team USA senior design engineer Neil
Wilkinson, at Otago Boys' High School last night.
This was the third in a national series of lectures being
given by the two men, who are both New Zealanders, to mark
the centenary of the Institution of Professional Engineers
More than 200 people attended.
Mr Kensington said increases in boat speed of about 10 knots
had been achieved by Team New Zealand within a year of the
start of the America's Cup races.
Oracle eventually won 9-8 after a seemingly miraculous
comeback, having earlier trailed Team New Zealand 1-8.
Mr Kensington said in some previous America's Cup events,
with much slower overall speeds, an increase of 0.1 of a knot
would have been viewed as notable, but the increases gained
by Team New Zealand had been ''quite staggering''.
That team had been somewhat surprised to have such a marked
advantage in some of the early racing.
But Oracle had bounced back later and was sailing 1 or 2
knots faster than the New Zealand boat during the last couple
of races, which proved a crucial edge.
Oracle had earlier had a major overall advantage through its
greater knowledge of catamaran design and sailing, having won
the 33rd America's Cup regatta in 2010, representing the
Golden Gate Yacht Club.
For that reason, relatively few challengers had put
themselves forward, given time constraints, in the 34th
event, he said.
By contrast, Mr Wilkinson said Oracle had begun the 34th
event as something of an underdog, New Zealand having
achieved significant speed advances through earlier trialling
in New Zealand.
The two yachting syndicates had taken different approaches to
boat design and development, but in any case the New Zealand
economy had benefited, because much of Oracle's specialised
boat construction had also been carried out in New Zealand,