A Japan First! Yanmar Marine Engines Support the World’s Premier Yacht Race at the AMERICA’S CUP World Series in Fukuoka
In three days of thrilling action over November 18 to 20, Fukuoka, Japan was host to the AMERICA’S CUP World Series, a preliminary to the AMERICA’S CUP due to be held in 2017. More than 14,000 spectators thronged the race-front shore to watch events unfold, together with upwards of 320 pleasure boats. Yanmar supported this exciting event as an Official Top Marine Partner.
But what is Yanmar’s involvement with Yacht racing? In fact, Yanmar marine engines are crucial to support of the race team. As we look back over the AMERICA’S CUP World Series in Fukuoka, the first such event held in Japan, we’ll see how important this role was.
The AMERICA’S CUP has a history that goes back to 1851, making it the world’s oldest sporting trophy. 165 years ago the first AMERICA’S CUP was held in a race around the Isle of Wight off the south of England, on the occasion of the first World Fair held in London. The Cup itself was crafted in sterling silver by British Royal Jewelers Garrard and Co. as the champion’s trophy.
From a wide field of contenders, it was the lone entry from the new world, the yacht “America”, that went on to beat the best of British sailing and claim the Cup. As the name of the first winner of the Cup was inscribed on the trophy, it came to be known henceforth as AMERICA’S CUP.
The shock defeat of the cream of British sailing at the hands of the relative newcomers set the stage for a series of hotly contested challenges as Britain sought to reclaim the trophy. From these beginnings came the one-on-one match-race that is today’s AMERICA’S CUP, currently held by Oracle Team USA, with Yanmar proudly in support as an Official Technical Partner.
The modern Olympics began in 1896, but predating this by many decades, the AMERICA’S CUP is an event with a long and illustrious history, and there have been many noteworthy challenges over the years. One such race in recent times was in 2013 with Oracle Team USA defending the 34th AMERICA’S CUP. One race away from defeat, the team went on to pull off what surely has to be one of the most remarkable comebacks in the history of any sport. Coming from 8-1 behind and with Emirates New Zealand only needing one win to capture the Cup, Oracle Team USA won the last 8 races in a row to claim victory.
One year before the start of that San Francisco race, a call came in to Yanmar. The caller was Oracle Team USA. They needed a marine diesel engine and drive unit for their race chaseboats.
Racing yacht standards have evolved with the times. From the San Francisco AMERICA’S CUP, the racing yachts morphed into sleek catamarans that employ hydrofoils and wings to achieve undreamt of speeds. Previous top speeds of 8 knots (15 kph) have been smashed by boats that regularly achieve 30 knots (55 kph) or more. Suddenly, teams needed a chaseboat that could keep up with the astonishing pace their race boats were setting. For a marine engine that could endure prolonged use in these punishing conditions, the team reached out to Yanmar.
Yanmar’s AMERICA’S CUP story began here. With Oracle Team USA’s success in defending the cup, the bonds of trust and reliance between the two have deepened and in 2017, Yanmar will once again be teaming up with Oracle Team USA in defense of the 35th AMERICA’S CUP.
Looking towards the Bermuda AMERICA’S CUP, Oracle Team USA needed chaseboats capable of reaching speeds of 45 knots (84 kph). Yanmar was able to meet these exacting demands by supplying the 8LV370 marine diesel engine and the ZT drive system. With this high performance loadout, the “YANMAR” chaseboats are able to reach top speeds of 53 knots (98 kph)! Currently Yanmar supports Oracle Team USA with engines and drives for three race team chaseboats.
In the AMERICA’S CUP World Series, the contesting teams battle it out on the water at locations around the globe. The Fukuoka event, where the “YANMAR1” chaseboat was on the water, was the last in the series of 9. Softbank Team Japan, Land Rover BAR (England), Artemis Racing (Sweden), Emirates Team New Zealand, Groupama Team France, and Oracle Team USA, the six teams contesting the series, all showed their mettle at the Fukuoka series.
Amid difficult conditions at Fukuoka, with blustery winds and a changeable wind direction, Oracle Team USA finished first in race 3 ahead of Land Rover BAR and Artemis Racing, showing the Japanese fans their champions’ spirit. In the overall rankings, Oracle Team is in second place, 19 points behind Land Rover BAR.
Reigning champions with back-to-back AMERICA’S CUP wins, skipper Jimmy Spithill and team tactician Tom Slingsby met and gave signatures to their many fans at the main beach in front of the racing area. Becoming the youngest skipper ever to secure the AMERICA’S CUP in 2010, a smiling Spithill commented: “With all the fans that came out to support us and make Fukuoka such a fantastic event, I’d love to have the opportunity to come back here and race again.” “Right now, we’re very focused on the task of preparations to secure the next AMERICA’S CUP” he continued more firmly.
The chaseboats are indispensable to the preparations for winning the Cup. In a pre-race talk session at the Fukuoka event between Oracle Team USA CEO Russell Coutts, Skipper Jimmy Spithill and Ken Araki from Yanmar, Spithill explained the role of the chaseboats.
“To develop a faster race boat, we’re currently conducting test runs in Bermuda and collecting data. The design team is actually out there on the chaseboat collecting a vast amount of live data and analyzing it on location. Without the capabilities of thechaseboat to run neck and neck with the racing yacht, there’s no way we could continue development. Also, as the racing yacht has got faster, so too the risk of capsize or of crew falling overboard has gone up. The chaseboat performs a vital mission in ensuring that if worst comes to worst, we can respond quickly and offer rescue support. It’s only because we can completely rely on the chaseboat that we can really push the boundaries of speed the way we do.”
At the end of the talk, a laughing Spithill had this to add:
“I like to go fast. That’s why I like Yanmar.”
Often described as the F1 of the seas, even having the finest sailors and the fastest racing yachts is no guarantee of success. Yachts can reach speeds in excess of 45 knots during development. The chase boat with its 53 knots of speed is a rival to the yacht.
The compact and light 8LV marine diesel with its exceptional environmental performance paired with the ZT drive system will support ORACLE TEAM USA as it attempts a third consecutive win.
In May, 2017, ORACLE TEAM USA will compete in the America's Cup qualifiers, before turning to its 2nd defense of the America's Cup. Should it succeed, it will have achieved what no other team in the history of the America's Cup has - and historic 3 victories.