America's Cup: A quick look at University of Auckland's Yacht Research

Emirates Team NZ AC72 Launch their second generation AC72 - Auckland graduates are working across all teams in the 34th America’’s Cup Regatta

Many people wonder why New Zealand is able to produce so many good sailors and engineers. The sailors often come from the Lion Foundation's Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron's Youth Program, and designers and engineers come from The University of Auckland's Faculty of Engineering.

The really good ones do both.

Five time winner of the America’s Cup winner and Olympic Gold medalist, Russell Coutts
The Engineering School at Auckland University has specialised in performance yacht research for more than 25 years, and has more alumni involved in the 34th America’s Cup than any other.

These include four times America’s Cup winner Russell Coutts, now CEO of Defender Oracle Team USA, and Tom Schnackenberg, the hugely respected sail designer for Australia II, who is currently a design consultant with Artemis Racing, Nick Holroyd, the technical director of Emirates Team NZ, and Burns Fallow, the sail design coordinator, are also both graduates of the Faculty.

Coutts is also an Olympic Gold Medalist. Other Olympic Medalists who have graduated from Auckland School of Engineering include Jo Aleh and John Cutler. Peter Burling is currently a student at the faculty, as is 2012 Olympic representative, Paul Snow-Hansen.

The Master of Engineering Studies in Yacht Engineering at The University of Auckland is a small-craft naval architecture degree which combines courses in materials, structures, boat design and manufacturing, computational fluid dynamics, and aerodynamics/hydrodynamics, with practical project work and field visits to leading boat building companies.

The Twisted Flow Wind Tunnel at University of Auckland
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The Faculty of Engineering also has a range of state-of-the-art facilities, including:
• A Yacht Research Unit which has been involved in the design and testing of boats competing in the America’s Cup, Volvo Ocean Race, and many other regattas since its inception in 1987.
• Twisted Flow Wind Tunnel.
• Boundary Layer Wind Tunnel.
• Centre for Advanced Composite Materials.
• Light Metals Research Centre.

Students also have the opportunity to work alongside researchers with associated interests such as polymers, coatings, dynamic positioning and embedded systems.

To add a practical sailing dimension onto their degree studies, students are just up the road from the unique Auckland sailing environment which offers everything from being able to work with top Olympic sailors, to America’s Cup and Volvo Ocean race projects, superyacht construction, sail design and manufacture, spar design and manufacture, and rigging - all within a 10km radius of the University. The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, which operates its renowned youth training program – producing many top America’s Cup and Volvo Ocean race crews and helmsmen – is just 5kms from the University.

David le Pelly, now a member of Emirates Team NZ's design team responsible for Aero and Instrumentation gives a tour of the Auckland facility (apologies for the audio acoustics>



Ranked in the top 1% of world Universities, many international students travel to Auckland to study at the Faculty of Engineering because of the unique facilities it offers and environment in which it is located.

In this video, international student Fredrick Gerhardt, doing a PhD in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Auckland, explains why he came to New Zealand.



Ben Goodwin, a three times NZ representative at ISAF Youth Worlds, in the Hobie 16, 29er and 420 before moving onto the 470 and now the 49er explains his 470 project with fellow University of Auckland student, Tarou Shiota..



15/01/2011 - Auckland (NZL) - 34th America's Cup - AC45 finalization - Tom Schnackenberg (Artemis) - Matthew Mason (Oracle Racing)

August 7, 2012 - Weymouth, England - Blair Tuke and Peter Burling on the 2012 Olympic medal podium at Portland

Olivia Powrie and Jo Aleh salute the Nothe crowd soon after winning the Gold Medal at Weymouth in August 2012.

John Cutler (left), Bruce Kendall, Chris Timms and Rex Sellers at the 1988 Olympics, Pusan, Korea.
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The 60 metre long loft floor close to the Viaduct harbour allows several J class sails to be worked on at one time by two shifts of sailmakers working 20 hours per day. North Sails

Part of the Southern Spars impressive spar contruction factilty that has been used for the construction of America’s Cup wingsails, Super yacht masts extending the length of the factory, and multiple Volvo Ocean 65 rigs
Southern Spars

VolvoFinishDoyle (1) - Volvo Ocean Race - Team Sanya - Doyle Sails