Oracle Team USA's America's Cup campaign is to benefit from the yacht racing experience of a Picton boat designer.
Picton-based boat design company Naiad Design co-directors John Cowan and Steve Schmidt are creating four tender boats, which are small support vessels, for the Oracle team to be used when they defend their America's Cup title in San Francisco in September next year.
Naiad staff have designed and built two 10-metre inflatable support boats, with twin 300-horsepower outboard motors, worth about $500,000 each.
They also made two 12.9-metre boats with 4.6-litre converted V8 land cruiser engines, worth about $750,000 each.
The two 10-metre and one of the 12-metre boats were complete and the last tender will be finished early next year, in time for Oracle's testing phases ahead of the big race in San Francisco.
The aluminium tenders are built by Naiad Inflatables in Newport, Rhode Island, using buoyancy tubes made in New Zealand. Their hulls are stepped to reduce water resistance and the seats use spring suspension to cushion impact from the force of waves, helping to eliminate fatigue.
Mr Schmidt said he learned the importance of keeping the hull of the tender boats low to the water to make it easier for people and equipment to be shifted from one to the other when he was invited on board NZL-38, the backup boat to Black Magic which won the cup in 1995, from a tender boat during the competition that year.
He remembered that jumping between the boats was easier to do at speed if they were at the same height when he and Naiad co-director John Cowan designed the tenders for Oracle.
"They've got to come alongside these yachts smoothly to transfer people and equipment, especially in the testing phase.
"The catamarans can reach more than 40 knots."
Mr Cowan said the designers hoped to see the competition in person, but had no confirmed travel plans.
"They're a very demanding customer, very professional, they know exactly what they want.
"We've got a foot in each door, but we'll be supporting Oracle and our business for the cup."
The company had a long history of producing designs for support tenders for America's Cup teams, starting with the 1992 race in San Diego.
- The Marlborough Express