It wasn't THAT long ago, that going to college clearly delivered an advantage to kids growing up and looking to enter the workplace. Today, it seems attending college has become a basic requirement to even be considered for many professions. You could argue the same is true in the use of technology in competition.

Photo Credit: Emirates Team New Zealand website.

Take America's Cup as an example. The America's Cup is a sailing race of yachts that features the world's best sailors, and the world's fastest ships. Below is the definition I pulled from Wikipedia: 

The America's Cup, affectionately known as the "Auld Mug", is a trophy awarded to the winner of the America's Cup match races between two sailing yachts. One yacht, known as the defender, represents the yacht club that currently holds the America's Cup and the second yacht, known as the challenger, represents the yacht club that is challenging for the cup. The timing of each match is determined by an agreement between the defender and the challenger. The America's Cup is the oldest international sporting trophy.

I can only imagine the level of skill, and training required to become a sailor on one of the two competing yachts. It's truly amazing to watch the sailors in America's Cup to respond with such strength and precision during the race. The other part of this competition is the challenge of building the fastest boat. Now this is where things have gotten interesting - and where high performance computing (HPC) is playing a large role. 

Emirates Team New Zealand needed to design an entirely new boat, based on new multihull requirements of this year's America's Cup. Amazingly, with the help of a Dell HPC cluster, Emirates Team was able to perform 300-400 accurate computer test boat designs in their quest to build the fastest boat possible. This is in contrast to the 30-40 physical designs they were able to do for the 2007 competition! Simply amazing.

The use of HPC clearly paid off early in the design phases, as the computer modeling allowed Emirates Team to develop a boat that could hydrofoil, providing an advantage by allowing the boat to lift out of the water while staying within the regulations of the competition. The competition later was also able to achieve hydrofoil, but later than Emirates Team, which allowed them to focus on other boat design models. 

Photo Credit: ANSYS Website.

The key tools used by Emirates Team to design the boat included ANSYS simulation software running on the Dell HPC Cluster, and Latitude laptops. This marked the first time they were able to rely completely on numerical analysis and digital prototyping, which the team believes has helped them create a boat design that was 30-40 percent faster than their original concepts. 

In the end, Oracle Team USA was able to make the biggest comeback in history of America's Cup, winning an unbelievable eight straight races. This competition is where technology and design, meet the talent, experience, and strength of sailors. I would guess that the competition for next year's America's Cup is probably already underway. With the stakes so high, and the difference between winning and losing so slim, it's probably a good bet that HPC will play a larger role in the future.  

Other news coverage:

TechHive: The America's Cup: nerves, skill, and computer design

Video: ANSYS CFD in Action: Emirates Team New Zealand Profile 

HPC Wire: America's Cup Challenger Emirates Team New Zealand Transform Boat Design with Dell Solution

Attached Case Study: Team New Zealand takes on the America’s Cup with game-changing technology (see bottom of blog post to download)

If you haven't seen how exciting America's Cup can be to watch, I embedded a short video below.