Land Rover has teamed up with Sir Ben Ainslie to try and win the America’s Cup for Britain for the first time ever this year and Land Rover has a new innovation that it believes will help Ainslie immensely as he looks to bring the Auld Mug back to Britain.
Land Rover has developed a unique steering wheel for Ainslie’s 15-meter ‘R’1’ catamaran that allows the former Olympian to make precise adjustments to the boat’s hydrofoils using paddle shifters. The paddle shifters are located on the rear of the steering wheel, just like on Land Rover’s SUVs, and were moulded to fit helmsman Ainslie’s fingers perfectly.
“This is not just a great piece of design and engineering, but beautiful craftsmanship,” Ainslie said of the wheel. “The controls are intuitive and smooth, with just the right amount of feel and feedback. It really has made a difference to how I control R1.”
When Ainslie pulls one of the paddle shifters, the boat’s hydrofoils lift it out of the water, allowing it to reach its top speed more quickly. In an average 20-minute race, he would make around 1200 inputs with the hydrofoil paddles, which Land Rover says was developed using technical know-how from the paddle shifters on its road cars.
Ben Ainslie Racing in partnership with Land Rover will contest the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup over the next couple months. Qualifying for the highly prestigious race is to be held in Bermuda from May 26th to June 3rd, which will see nine challengers advance to the final. The winner of the final will race the 35th America’s Cup, which will be held in Bermuda between June 17th and June 27th.