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Altair and American Magic: Data Analytics Drives Innovation in the 37th America’s Cup

In the world-renowned America’s Cup competition, the globe’s top sailing teams are locked in a heated race (literally and metaphorically) to see which team can conjure the perfect blend of design, strategy, and execution that will garner them the Auld Mug, the oldest, and most challenging trophy to win in international sport. With the competition’s razor-thin margin between victory and defeat, teams must ensure they have the technology and insights they need to optimize their yacht and race strategy.

This means any modern competitive sailing team worth their saltwater needs good data – and lots of it. Moreover, they need tools and methods that allow their team to organize it, access it, distribute it, and allow it to become a difference-maker for their multidisciplinary teams. All the while, it’s vital they also have a team of experts to support them and ensure their data analytics initiatives are on the right path.

The New York Yacht Club (NYYC) American Magic team, despite its expertise as the winningest organization in America’s Cup history, can’t do everything alone. Thankfully, by collaborating with Altair as their official computational science and AI partner, they knew their data analytics initiatives were in good hands, and that they’d have the tools and access to experts they’d need to maximize the wealth of data their team generates.


Data Analytics: A Must-Have in the America’s Cup

At the highest echelons of competitive sailing – as in many other industries today – good data is essential. “Data analytics isn’t something that’s a luxury for teams competing in the America’s Cup – it’s a must-have tool in the toolkit,” says Andrea Mannarino, manager of AI and machine learning, American Magic. “Every time we take the yacht out and run tests, we want to see straight away how the data looked and what information we can extract from those sessions.”

As Mannarino explains, the goal is to find correlations and patterns within the data the team gathers from a variety of sources, such as sensors. Ultimately, what the team wants to do is take raw data and transform it so that it’s understandable and actionable for the team’s designers and engineers. 

Data analytics brings American Magic's cutting-edge vision to life

Often, that means comparing trends and correlations in data gathered from real-life runs to the data generated from simulation runs and identifying the overlap (or lack of) between the two. It’s here that the American Magic team finds the Altair® RapidMiner® data analytics and AI platform – specifically Altair® Knowledge Studio® – vital. 

“For example, if the team changes the design of a foil, we’ll run simulations on it to predict its performance,” Mannarino says. “From there, we’ll test it on the water and gather real-time data. Altair’s technology helps us spot not only the discrepancies between the data, but also those discrepancies’ potential causes. This helps us optimize our designs and solve problems.”

Once upon a time, Mannarino explains, extensive quality data in sailing was hard to come by. But now the opposite is true – as sensor and simulation technology has improved, teams often find they have too much data than they can make sense of. But having this real-time data is key because simulation data can only go so far. “The simulations can’t tell you everything. When you put the yachts in the water,” Mannarino says, “there’s always something that physics and theory doesn’t bring to the picture.”


Collaboration is a Team Sport in Data Analytics

Going back to a running theme throughout the partnership between Altair and American Magic for the 37th America’s Cup, the key to truly unlocking great data analytics capabilities is each partner’s willingness to improve, improvise, and solve the other team’s toughest challenges. It’s a set of requirements that people from both organizations have met and more. “The collaboration with Altair has been very positive throughout the development cycle,” Mannarino says. “The Altair team has been very proactive, which is key because every team needs a great technical partner. The America’s Cup is an extremely competitive environment, so any edge a partner can bring goes a long way in helping us meet our goals.”

Altair sees the collaboration the same way. “Our team takes pride in not just doing data analytics well, but we are always trying to go above and beyond for our partners and customers because their success is our success,” said Mahshid Shirani, director of data science, Altair. “We were confident that our strong data science team, with its unique blend of skills and dedication, would excel in helping American Magic achieve its objectives.”

This dedication to success and fruitful collaboration is the bedrock of any good partnership. “There was never a time where we had to catch the Altair team up, or where they weren’t able to work on a project we gave them,” Mannarino says. Ultimately, this kind of dynamic partnership makes both teams better and helps propel the American Magic team forward in their quest to return the Auld Mug to the shores of New York City where it first arrived more than 170 years ago.


Conclusion: Seeing It All Come Together

Data analytics is certainly an invaluable piece of America’s Cup teams’ strategies today and will play an even bigger role as the technology continues to evolve and become more accessible to more organizations. But data isn’t much without what brings it to fruition. That involves the racing crew itself, the yacht, and everyone involved in bringing that yacht to life. Data is a part of a much larger puzzle.

In data and beyond, Altair’s technology and experts are in lockstep with the American Magic team as they prepare for the big event in Barcelona. “There’s always a lot going on, a lot of people pulling in the same direction but from very different angles,” Mannarino says. “But that’s what makes it so fulfilling seeing it all come together. It’s challenging, frustrating, and rewarding all at the same time. Every day is exciting, because we know we’re building for something bigger, something that will allow us to test ourselves on the world stage.”

In all, the collaboration between Altair and American Magic for the 37th America’s Cup shows how data analytics isn’t just meant for industry. Rather, data analytics is becoming prevalent in industries and use cases of all stripes, in contexts large and small. Data is a vital thread of the fabric that creates next-generation technology like digital twins that demonstrate the ultimate convergence of simulation, artificial intelligence (AI), high-performance computing (HPC), and data analytics that Altair has pioneered for decades.

To learn more about Altair’s marine solutions, visit To learn more about Altair RapidMiner, visit To learn more about NYYC and the American Magic team, visit