The use of mechatronics in the world of sailing is exceptionally recent. Nowadays, virtually every team participating in the American Cup boasts at least one mechatronics engineer aboard its hull.
Over time, these boats have become so sophisticated and technological that they require personnel who are increasingly prepared to manage complex systems. Seen from the inside, they look a lot like an aeroplane for the electronic components they have.
Navigation is managed by three roles: the helmsman, the mainsail trimmer and the controller. But besides them, there are at least eight other people – including a tactician – who perform vital functions for the regatta by pressing buttons that allow these boats to sail quickly and perform the necessary manoeuvres.
When these buttons are pressed, an electronic signal passes to a programmable logic controller, which is programmed to control hydraulic valves’ opening and closing or mechanical mechanisms to achieve a specific function.
For example, Mechatronics intervenes predominantly in delicate moments such as take-off, which is a delicate balance between forces.
To find out in detail how mechatronics contributes to the new racing boats’ performance, we recommend reading the interview with the American Magic team produced in April 2020.