To ensure that the 500 square metre gigantic spinnaker of USA 98, its massive keel bulb weighing 19 tonnes, and the comparatively delicate hull complement each other to perfection, a consistent evaluation of data and values is necessary.

Just as the BMW ORACLE Racing crew is expected to deliver perfect teamwork aboard the yacht, the essential yacht components need to be in tune with each other.

This story explains how BMW ORACLE Racing utilises on-board electronics of high-tech yachts USA 87 and USA 98 with BMW expertise

This task calls for a high degree of responsibility, one that Claus Polap was charged with more than two years ago. The BMW engineer specialises in metrology and is part of the BMW ORACLE Racing design team, spending most of his working time in Valencia at the base of the American Challenger of Record.

Several hundred days of measuring have taken place over the past three years – at times with more than 100 sensors attached to the hull, rig, keel, hydraulics, winch drive and other components of the high-tech yachts. The objective is clear – every single value should, and needs to, contribute towards making the fast yachts even faster, so that at the decisive moment, the tip of the bow is ahead of the competition. The intelligent compilation of performance data aboard the BMW ORACLE Racing yacht plays a key role in this context. A similar version of the lightweight, compact and energy-efficient system is used by BMW in the field of serial development and testing. Besides prototypes and trial vehicles, it was, for instance, used specifically and very successfully in the case of the BMW H2R – the legendary hydrogen-fuelled, record-breaking vehicle which traveled at speeds of more than 300 kilometres per hour.

The electronic system is easy to install, and it can be modified and enhanced as required. It also tolerates extreme temperatures and is moisture-resistant, an aspect which is extremely important with regards to America’s Cup yachts. The benefit of the modular, integrated system is that all the relevant data – from the atmospheric conditions, such as wind data via the current sailing situation, as well as the activities of the yachtsmen, to the effects of all these factors on the yacht and its components – is collected directly and simultaneously within a single system. This not only leads to outstanding efficiency in terms of post processing and data analysis, but also results in a number of different synergy effects. The intelligent linking of all the data in a high-performance system allows for the real-time evaluation of smart, accumulated information. Thanks to compatible display technology from the automotive sector, this information can be displayed to support the sailors in an ideal manner.

“The system enables us to access more data and also get specific information.” according to Claus Polap. “At the same time, it is so flexible; it only displays the values needed in a given situation.” Another advantage over conventional, centrally-structured standard solutions, which require hundreds of metres of cable, resulting in extra weight, is that the sensors of the system used by BMW ORACLE Racing are bundled and connected to the local measuring modules. Significantly fewer cables are needed – the system is robust, easy to maintain and has a low overall weight.”

“The new system very efficiently delivers the right information, at the right time, for the right person, to the right place – all the while taking into account the current racing situation on the water.” Polap explains.
All the information is visualised by the innovative display system, based on the experiences of BMW in the field of automotive research and development. Close to the body, the small displays feature all the relevant information, while the medium-sized displays are designed for universal use on deck. At the mast, large displays provide the sailors with the data they need. What makes these on-board displays so unique is that the sensors connected to them adapt to the respective racing situation. Whether for the pre-start, in up-wind or down-wind situations: technically, the BMW ORACLE Racing team is optimally prepared.