Shosholoza, the first ever America’s Challenger from South Africa, unveiled this morning in cold and windy Valencia their overhauled yacht, RSA-83. Despite being the oldest of the America’s Cup yachts competing now in Valencia, it has undergone such a major modification that one could very well consider it as a “new” yacht, sporting a new bow, stern, appendages, mast as well as new sails.
According to Captain Sarno, head of the South African challenger, the team is very satisfied with the performance of the modified yacht. Despite this being her public presentation, Shosholoza’s crew has been testing RSA-83 for a few days. Shosholoza decided in September 2006 to modify their existing boat instead of building a new one and after months of design, testing 23 models of 7.5 meters and more than 250 appendage combinations, the overhauled boat made her public debut this morning.
It is worth mentioning that all modifications were carried out right inside the team’s base in Valencia, the only exception being the mold of the bow. An oven was installed in the boat shed and while sailors were enjoying their Christmas holidays boatbuilders built the new parts, cut the old and reassembled the yacht.
In order to achieve optimum design for all details of a boat, as many different scenarios as possible must be simulated and the boat’s maximum loads have to be computed. For example: How does the load distribution in the sails change at different wind conditions? To what extent do the forces affect the mast, and how must it be fixed to the hull under these conditions? The development of the force in the sails and the width of the hull require a certain weight and design of the keel bulb in order to stabilize the boat.
Extremely-fast computers are required in order to simulate all these details with thousands upon thousands of influential factors and millions of possible models in order to gradually move towards a boat design which is as close to optimum as possible. In conjunction with other companies and institutions, T-Systems runs one of the ten most powerful computers anywhere on earth, and is therefore in the position to offer Team Shosholoza ideal support. This Supercomputer for Research and Businesss uses simulation programs which are used mainly for aircraft such as the Airbus A380. With the hww supercomputer’s computation ability of around 25 teraflops (one teraflop is a unit of computing power equal to a trillion floating point operations per second), each and every detail – irrespective of how tiny it may be – can be included in the simulation and can be taken into consideration in the design process.
The new bow of RSA-83The most visible change in the yacht was obviously of the bow because of the extent of the modifications and the presence of a bowsprit (unlike Desafío Español this is a real one).
The old bow of RSA-83In order to grasp the extent of the modifications it was interesting to check the old bow.
The modified stern of RSA-83The stern of the boat was also modified but the changes were significantly smaller than the bow.
Modified RSA-83 sails outAfter a short speach by Captain Sarno and a brief photo session in the base, the team docked out and went on with their usual daily training activities. A small calibration took place inside the harbor and after sails were hoisted, RSA-83 sailed off to a day of testing and training with excellent wind conditions. Due to the very low temperatures and unsuitable clothing, most photographers couldn’t stand the cold and the tender boat had to return ashore. We promise we will have more photos of the South African rocket soon.