Jaguar Land Rover has released details of the specially developed wheel that it hopes will help steer racing legend Sir Ben Ainslie to success at the 35th America’s Cup, which begins at the end of this month (May 2017)
The bespoke steering wheel, which draws on technology developed for the Discovery, features gear-shift paddles that have been shaped to fit Sir Ben’s hands, giving him perfect fingertip control of the hydrofoils on which R1, Land Rover BAR’s 2.4 tonne yacht will “fly”.
Land Rover’s Human Machine Interface engineers spent 18 months developing the wheel that will lift R1 above the water at speeds above 50 knots.
Just as an aerofoil helps a plane into the sky, hydrofoils lift a boat out of the water. The Land Rover steering wheel turns the boat left and right as it would on a car, while the gear shift paddles control its height above the water by controlling the lift from the foils.
Commenting on the wheel, Ainslie said: “This is not just a great piece of design and engineering, but beautiful craftsmanship. 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.”
Tony Harper, director of research at Jaguar Land Rover, said: “The paddle system we developed for Land Rover BAR has its roots in the steering wheel gear-change mechanisms our customers use daily. By adding personalised moulds of Sir Ben’s fingers we have provided a mechanism capable of lifting the boat onto its foils, increasing efficiency through the water and ultimately reaching top speed more quickly.”
Britain’s quest to end its 166-year wait for an America’s cup victory begins on 26 May. As Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series champions, Land Rover BAR heads into the qualifiers for the competition with a two-point head start over the remaining challengers.