America’s Cup entry takes shape in Truckee | SierraSun.com
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America’s Cup entry takes shape in Truckee

Sierra Sun Staff

America True, the San Francisco Yacht Club’s challenge for America’s Cup 2000 partnered with Truckee boat-builder James Betts of Betts Enterprises to construct its first boat, and builders at the Truckee facility started work on the $6 million project Monday.

“This completes the first part of our two-year research and development project,” said America True chief operations officer G. Christopher Coffin. “Our effort represents several million dollars of investment to develop the fastest hull shape, and now is the time to make it a reality.”

He said the decision to move forward with the building phase is a significant step in the organization’s America’s Cup campaign, but stressed that the job is far from over and that the next few months are critical.

This is the first America’s Cup boat built by Betts Enterprises, but Betts has nearly 20 years of experience building high performance yachts, and is devoting his full attention to the task at hand.

Betts said the decision by America True came after months of communication with America’s Cup syndicates. America True notified him of its decision about a month ago.

“I’ve been approaching all of the potential syndicates and have made contact with the particulars involved,” Betts said. “Over a process of elimination, we were selected.”

Betts Enterprises is now putting finishing touches on a larger workshop, where the company initially planned to build the America’s Cup boat. The company, which has been located in Truckee for the past four years, employs about 25 to 30 people during peak times, and might employ as many as 15 more after the expansion is complete. Because the new structure is still incomplete, the America’s Cup boat will be built in the original workshop and other projects will be moved to the new building.

Betts said construction of the America’s Cup boat should be complete by late spring or early summer.

The construction group is led by Team New Zealand veteran Peter Sowman, and includes John McConaghy, an Australian boat builder with 30 years of high tech boat building experience.

“John has built every Australian America’s Cup boat since 1990,” said America True design team leader Phil Kaiko, adding that McConaghy’s participation will allow America True to finish its boat quickly and without error.

Kaiko reported that many of the other builders possess America’s Cup backgrounds, and that the Truckee-based Betts facility offers them an excellent working environment.

Kaiko said Betts was chosen for his energy and enthusiasm.

“He also has many innovative ideas that reflect our boat design philosophy,” Kaiko said.

With data from the 1992 and 1995 America3 campaigns, consultations with groups like NASA Lewis Research Center, and cutting edge software from its technology sponsors Centric Engineering Systems, Radioss Consulting Corporation and SDRC, America True is creating what the syndicate believes will be a superior design for the next America’s Cup.

“There are still many facets of the design to consider,” said Coffin. “The hull is locked in, and we are now focusing on development of the appendages and the right sail plan. A single element won’t produce the fastest boat. Every detail must be observed.”

Led by Dawn Riley, America True is the first America’s Cup syndicate managed by a woman. The syndicate’s headquarters, store and visitor center are located at Pier 17 on San Francisco’s historic waterfront.

The syndicate’s headquarters are open to the public, but no visitors will be allowed inside the Betts Enterprises workshop where the craft is under construction, to protect the confidentiality of the design.

Sierra Sun E-mail: sun@tahoe.com

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