Airbus and American Magic announce innovation partnership
Frenchman Jean-Brice Dumont, the executive vice president of the aeronautical juggernaut Airbus, put it quite simply: “When boats start to fly, we are interested. We think we can bring something. We think we can learn something.” And while those sentiments are certainly a very simple way of looking at a very complex concept, with that Dumont briefly summed up his firm’s motivation in joining forces with the American Magic syndicate for the 36th edition of the America’s Cup, scheduled to commence in 2021.
The alliance between Airbus, the newly named Innovation Partner, and American Magic was proclaimed this week at a press conference and reception in the famous Model Room of the New York Yacht Club, the once and – if American Magic fulfills its stated mission – future home of the Auld Mug on Manhattan’s West 44th Street. In making the announcement, Dumont was joined on a podium with the syndicate’s skipper Terry Hutchinson and CEO Hap Fauth; team principals Doug Devos and auto-racing legend Roger Penske, as well as COO Rob Oulette, were also in attendance.
Dumont wasn’t kidding with the “flying boat” remark; defender Team New Zealand has decreed that the next Cup will be contested in radical, fully foiling 75-foot monohulls with a crew of 11. The foils, not unlike the wings of an Airbus aircraft, will obviously be a crucial component of the design. Dumont said Airbus engineers were providing onsite technical expertise and assistance with the naval architects designing American Magic’s two AC75 racers, Botin Partners, and at the team’s construction headquarters in Bristol, Rhode Island.
“This engineering partnership has been active for the better part of 2018 and is nothing short of awesome,” said Hutchinson. “Together we will push sailing technology forward, win the biggest prize in the sport, and inspire sailors here at home and around the world.”
It must be noted that this is not the first America’s Cup rodeo for Airbus, having partnered with Oracle Team USA in the last event, which was sailed in high-performance foiling catamarans. Hutchinson said that the company’s previous Cup experience was critical in establishing this new allegiance. And for its part, Airbus has stated that they have benefited through their involvement with the Cup by improving wingtip designs on their A350 airline and by developing new instrumentation that is used across the board in other ongoing aircraft projects.
Of course, Oracle Team USA came up short in their defense of the America’s Cup in Bermuda, a matter Dumont hopes to rectify this time around. “We didn’t win, but we learned,” he said. “This time, we hope to win and to learn.”