Last month brought a dramatic change of scenery for Airbus engineer Xavier Pol, who relocated from the company’s St. Martin campus in Toulouse, France all the way to the Atlantic island of Bermuda – where he is now furthering the Airbus innovation partnership with ORACLE TEAM USA as the sailing team prepares to defend its title in the 2017 America’s Cup competition.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Pol, who was involved with flight control systems integration, modelling and simulation activities at the St. Martin campus, and is being joined in Bermuda by another company engineer. “I really enjoy what I'm doing at Airbus, but I can't wait to further discover this other world. In the last competition, [ORACLE TEAM USA was] down 8-1 and won the next eight races to win the America’s Cup. To be immersed into a culture like that, to see how they respond to unexpected situations is going to be a great learning experience.”
ORACLE TEAM USA has claimed victory at the last two America’s Cup competitions (in 2010 and 2013), and will attempt a “three-peat” during the 2017 edition – which will be held in Bermuda in June of 2017.
As the team’s Official Innovation Partner, Airbus is sharing the know-how of its experts in areas that include aerodynamics, instrumentation, simulation, composites, structures, hydraulics and data analysis. In parallel, Airbus benefits from the innovative approach of a world leader in sailing technology in their quest to retain the America’s Cup. “The Cup” is arguably one of the most difficult trophies to win in the world of sport – and the oldest sports trophy of the modern era (dating back to 1851).
Pol explained that ORACLE TEAM USA and Airbus have a great deal in common: “They're the no. 1 team in the world and Airbus is the leading aircraft manufacturer in the world. We're both driven to be better and faster and lighter.” He added that the organisations themselves have many similarities, as well. “We're both international, with people from many different nationalities all working together to achieve a common goal. It's an honour to be integrated with this team of experts in their fields, whether they are designers, engineers, composite boat builders, athlete sailors or other.”
While he is with ORACLE TEAM USA in Bermuda, Pol will utilise his modelling and simulation expertise to help their boats “fly” across the water – with foils, elevators and rudders that act like aircraft control surfaces.
“I've never been involved in something like this,” Pol concluded. “I don't know exactly what it's going to be like, but I do know it's going to be exciting and it's going to be a big, big challenge and I like challenges. I can’t wait.”