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Altair and American Magic: Two Innovators in Search of America’s Cup Glory

The history of the New York Yacht Club (NYYC) and the history of the America’s Cup competition are inseparable, a shared story that stretches back more than 170 years. The NYYC was founded in 1844, a few years before the first edition of the America’s Cup in 1851. In that competition, the NYYC’s “America” won the inaugural America’s Cup race off England’s southern coast against the British Royal Yacht Squadron’s “Aurora.” From there the NYYC went on to defend the trophy – known informally as the Auld Mug – for a remarkable 132 straight years from 1851-1983, a period that spanned 24 America’s Cup competitions. Considering the America’s Cup is the oldest, and most difficult trophy to win in international sport, this is an unparalleled history of success.

It’s clear that the NYYC knows a thing or two about winning silverware. Looking to once again hoist the Auld Mug in 2024 in the 37th America’s Cup taking place in Barcelona, Spain, the NYYC American Magic team tapped Altair as its official computational science and AI partner. The team’s name, “American Magic,” is derived from the two sailboats that won the 1851 (“America”) and 1870 (“Magic”) editions of the America’s Cup. The goal from both teams is simple: Develop the cutting-edge sailboats that will give the American Magic team the best possible shot at winning the 37th America’s Cup.

The Auld Mug, official trophy of the America's Cup


“Not Your Typical Sailboats”

Obviously, the America’s Cup is a sailing competition. But the racing yachts the teams use are a far cry from what most people think of when they envision the word “sailboat,” says American Magic computational fluid dynamics (CFD) engineer Andrew Bloxom. “These aren’t your typical sailboats – they’re technological wonders,” Bloxom says. “Ideally during a race, the hull won’t even touch the water’s surface. Essentially, it will be in what we call ‘flying mode’ because only the hydrofoil will be in the water.” 

The type of yacht that will be used in the 37th America’s Cup, the “AC75,” is a 75-foot-long monohull yacht that features hydrofoils, a double-skinned soft sail, and an eight-person crew. The AC75 yachts debuted in the 36th America’s Cup in 2021, and can reach speeds of more than 55 mph in ideal conditions. At those speeds, this clearly isn’t the leisurely pace many sailboats typically cruise at. But though the AC75s look like they’re flying off the water, almost as if by powered by an underwater motor, they’re still propelled by the air like any other sailboat. “They’re still sailing, powered by the wind, just not in the traditional ‘hull in the water’ mode anymore,” Bloxom says.

Not your typical sailboats, indeed. One look at these powerful, unique yachts makes it obvious that the teams participating in the America’s Cup and its qualifying races need trusted, capable technology partners. In a race where the margin between victory and defeat rests on a razor’s edge, teams need to have access to transformative technology that will allow them to gain and maintain a competitive edge. 

The need for this kind of comprehensive technology and expertise is what made Altair and its nearly 40-year legacy of providing game-changing simulation, artificial intelligence (AI), high-performance computing (HPC), and data analytics solutions the perfect fit for the American Magic team. “The America's Cup has such a storied history and a legacy of always being on the cutting edge of racing innovation; we on the American Magic team want nothing more than to add to that legacy,” said American Magic CEO Mike Cazer. “Partnering with Altair reaffirms our team’s commitment to using the industry’s best tools to achieve our goals.”


Getting It Right the First Time

Within every edition of the America’s Cup, competitors must follow strict rules and regulations to ensure an even playing field – both in the races themselves and throughout the design phase. These rules are called the Protocol. One notable quirk of the America’s Cup is that the defending champion holds the right to make modifications to the Protocol for the Cup’s next edition. Some highlights of the Protocol for the 37th America’s Cup include:

  • Teams are only permitted to build one new AC75 yacht.
  • New limitations on quantity of foils and componentry that can be built for the AC75s.
  • A reduction in permitted racing crew size from 11 to 8.
  • Restricted sailing periods.

And beyond these Protocol-imposed limitations, there are a host of other factors that make the jobs of the engineers, designers, and others involved in the yacht’s day-to-day construction both difficult and rewarding. 

“It’s an interesting design challenge to develop geometries which optimize performance while staying within the rules,” Bloxom says. “What we do is vital because we don’t get a do-over. We can’t just build hulls and foils and test them out on the water or in experimental facilities at will like in the old days. To the extent we can, we need to get things right the first time around.” 

American Magic’s Kurt Jordan, director of structural design and engineering, who has been a part of 10 America’s Cup competitions dating back to 1996, echoed this feeling of challenge and joy that comes from operating within boundaries. “The team and I are very proud of finding new ways to innovate within the constraints the rulebook imposes,” he says. “It excites me to do a job that challenges and pushes me every day, to do a job that allows us to use our expertise and creativity to solve new challenges for these world-class athletes.”

As Bloxom mentioned, the American Magic team doesn’t get do-overs in development. They’re locked in a heated race against other world-class teams. Delays, mistakes, and slow development isn’t a winning formula. Thankfully, by choosing Altair, they don’t have to worry about any hiccups on the technology side. “One of the most powerful aspects of Altair solutions is the tools can point the way to optimizations or improvements – and all teams can do this concurrently,” Jordan says. Bloxom agrees: “The value we get from these tools is linked to the high data throughput, because Altair’s tools and workflow enable me to run and manage a volume of simulations that would previously have required a team of CFD engineers,” he says. 

In short, Altair’s tools expedite and simplify the development process and ensure the team can iterate faster and avoid needing to spend time they don’t have on costly do-overs.


Beyond the Race: Two Organizations in Lockstep

Obviously, Altair and American Magic are great partners from a technological standpoint – the American Magic team has complex, high-pressure engineering problems to solve, Altair has the technology and experts to help solve them. But beyond that, both organizations share an ethos of democratization and openness that has helped create a virtuous cycle of communication and improvement.

“The NYYC and American Magic have such a storied history and a legacy of always being on the cutting edge of racing innovation – partnering with Altair was a natural choice to help us continue that legacy,” said American Magic CEO Mike Cazer. “Every time our team takes to the water we want to know that we had access to the market’s finest, most agile technology. This partnership empowers us to deliver on our strategy and gives us access to an organization that not only has great technology solutions, but also a wealth of expertise and an unmatched willingness to help our team achieve its goals.” 

“Partnering with American Magic is such a unique opportunity for Altair, one that gives us a fantastic stage to demonstrate our vision of technological convergence and computational science,” said Altair CEO Jim Scapa. “The America’s Cup competition is exciting, highly competitive, and showcases the market’s most innovative technology in action. We are proud to provide the American Magic team with our solutions and expertise – working with them has been a pleasure and we look forward to seeing the teams’ hard work pay off in the near future.”

Moreover, working with storied organizations like NYYC lets Altair demonstrate its world-class technology on an exciting international level among some of the world’s best competition. In total, it gives Altair a chance to demonstrate the power of computational science and converging technologies on the big stage, to show that convergence isn't a hypothetical concept – it’s here, and it’s already driving some of the world’s most innovative technologies.

Ultimately, Altair and the American Magic team have been in lockstep throughout the development cycle for the 37th America’s Cup. “The work we’ve done with American Magic has made them better, but they’ve also helped us become better too,” said Julien Chaussee, Altair senior technical specialist. “They have pushed our tools and expertise to the limit and opened so many avenues that will help us moving forward. There’s been a lot of great back and forth, and that stems from a true partnership where both teams are willing to share feedback honestly and broadly. It’s been a symbiotic, active relationship and we look forward to seeing our work come to fruition.”


Conclusion: Chasing the Cup

The story of the partnership between American Magic and Altair is the story of two best-in-class leading organizations pushing each other and striving to remain some of the world’s best organizations at what they do. This is the essence of teamwork in competitive sport and beyond. 

But let’s not discount the stakes – in a competition as dynamic, intricate, and storied as the America’s Cup, every second counts. A first-place finish would be a monumental achievement for both teams, a reflection of and testament to that “every second counts” ethos both teams share. 

The American Magic team is certainly anxious to get on the water in Barcelona and prove to the world that the Auld Mug belongs where it came home with the first NYYC team 173 years ago. And Altair is proud that the American Magic yacht will don the Altair logo and looks forward to a heart-stopping conclusion in the race to hoist the 37th America’s Cup. After all, there are no proverbial silver medals in the America’s Cup. As one of Queen Victoria’s aides supposedly said during the inaugural race in 1851, “Ah, Your Majesty, there is no second." A victory, then, would be as sweet as it gets.

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