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Team NZ Sail for the America’s Cup with Panasonic’s Toughbooks

On June 14 2004, Emirates Team New Zealand announced an offi cial challenge for the 2007 America’s Cup. The lead up to the Louis Vuitton Challenge and the America’s Cup requires a combination of skilled strategy, excellent teamwork, intense training, on and off water support,the latest technology and best equipment… NZL92 and NZL84 are the two race boats being used in the challenge and are the hope and dreams of both the team and the watching nation.

The America's Cup is often described as the Formula 1 of competitive sailing. It is an apt analogy; The yachts are built from carbon fibre, as are grand prix cars and both rely heavily on cutting edge technology to gain the slightest advantage over their competitors. Design is as an important component of victory and the care with which the yachts are built and maintained is critical to success.

Nothing about the yachts is left to chance. They are big and fast and crews must be skilled and highly trained to handle them safely yet get peak performance.

As part of the technology solution for the challenge in Valencia, Spain the Emirates Team New Zealand yachts require superior hardware in order to compete against the best in the world of yachting and to win the America's Cup and bring it home to New Zealand shores. What is absolutely required is hardware that can last the distance, and Panasonic Toughbooks play a vital role in making this happen.

How Toughbooks are used by Emirates Team NZ

 Panasonic Toughbooks are used for all the Emirates Team NZ onboard computational needs.

A CF-74 rugged notebook is used as the main computer, computing intensive sail data to provide real-time sail metric information to the crew on board, which is "quite a grunty mathematically intensive application" says Ian Moore one of the Team NZ Navigators. At the same time the CF-07 rugged data displays wirelessly connect back to this unit to show the specialised technical data required for navigation on the race course both before and during the race event.

The team navigators use the Toughbook CF-07 ruggedised wireless data display screens the entire time on the water, while the Helmsman Dean Barker uses them for the strategically important race starts. The highly robust CF-07 is designed specifically for working in the harshest of conditions. The unit is waterresistant, dust-resistant and can withstand the impact from a 1.2 meter (4ft) fall, meaning a stray knock or bump from falling off a wave is no issue. Navigator Ian Moore explains:

"The Toughbooks live on board the yachts in a damp environment and the screens are on deck all the time so need to be almost waterproof as they get soaked with salt water. On a rough day the boats get a lot of shock loading and even though the Toughbooks are fixed and mounted, with their hard drives being gel encased we know they are going to do their job".

To all this protection Panasonic has also added advanced wireless technology making the CF-07 an ideal solution for Emirates Team NZ. There is no risk of wires getting in the way of other crew members, rigging or other equipment on the boat. The CF-07 also features an anti-reflective coating that assures easy viewing even in sunlight. This provides comfortable use outdoors even on a bright day. Perfect for an on the water challenge. Why were Toughbooks selected? Navigator Ian Moore says the Panasonic Toughbooks were selected in support of Team NZ's challenge for the America's Cup because reliability is key.

"They are SUCH a good product. A big sweep of the market place was done to see what was needed and the product that fitted our solution was the Panasonic Toughbook range. We (Emirates Team NZ) even looked to custom build to our requirements however we couldn't beat what the Toughbooks offered. They are reliable and nicely packaged and they are easy to maintain"

Emirates Team NZ could have used any brand but at the end of the day "we couldn't afford to have a failure during a race, this is mission critical systems… The environment is relatively harsh where the computers are used, the laptops provide essential support and we need them to be reliable, Toughbook offer that over anyone else".

Panasonic Support

Emirates Team NZ have a long standing strong relationship with Panasonic, both on the corporate and technical side so the crew know they have great support on their side As Ian explains"It's imperative we fully trust the equipment we use on board. The Toughbooks take the knocks, handle the water and work effortlessly which is just what we need to ensure this works for our America's Cup campaign…"