Q. How long have you been involved with American Magic and what do you do?
Dalbies: I was looking for a new challenge when I heard about the discussions with American Magic. A position related to simulation was open and I realised that I ticked all boxes, it seemed like a great opportunity. I’ve always been interested in racing teams such as Formula 1 and it sounded like that…but on water! I’m involved across several work packages, mainly supporting system simulation for the designers.
Ronceray: I started about a year ago, splitting my time evenly between Airbus work and the American Magic boat. Now I’m more like full-time on the simulator, optimising the boat controls so I’ll be spending a lot of my time in the U.S., fully integrated into the team. Our know-how was first requested for the smaller test boat known as the “Mule.” Now we’re working with it on the full-sized boat too – it’s huge and out of the water the hull looks like a whale!
Q. Is there a typical day?
Dalbies: In Santander, where I spend most my time, the usual office pattern although days are maybe longer, in the USA everything works around the boat. Whether it is on or off the water dictates what we do, after sailing there is a capture meeting with the crew to find improvements and that sets up what we do next.
Ronceray: An early breakfast with the shore team is followed by four or five hours of sailing. Sometimes we are out on the chase boat but often working on shore. Once the boat is back in the shed, we debrief.
We intend to win the America’s Cup.
Q. Differences and similarities with Airbus?
Ronceray: The cycle is very similar to when I worked on the A350 XWB flight test campaign, but you go through it in a day rather than a month. The pace and size of the team are different, and you need to be your own project manager.
Dalbies: It is much the same pattern for me. My work follows the same principles and cycles although we iterate faster. The biggest difference is that I’m part of a much smaller team, there are 150 people in the American Magic team but in my area there are 50, 20 in Spain. That means you tend to work more broadly and quite independently compared to Airbus.
Q. How well did you adapt?
Dalbies: Quite smoothly. I wanted a new challenge, but the technical domain remained familiar. I’m also part of a very diverse team so everyone is used to bridging cultural differences. Being united behind a clear goal helps – we intend to win the America’s Cup.
Ronceray: Below water, the boat is like an aircraft – but major factors such as tides and, crucially, relying on the weather for power levels are completely different. Nevertheless, we apply aircraft tools to gain advantages for the team. I’ve become accustomed to the differences, and spending more time close to operations will help me to adapt further.
We apply aircraft tools to gain advantages for the team.
The first America’s Cup World Series (preliminary races) will be held next April in Cagliari, Sardinia. The America’s Cup races, the PRADA Cup and the America’s Cup Finals, will take place in Auckland, New Zealand from January to March 2021.