The America’s Cup is the oldest international sporting trophy, first awarded in 1851 for a yacht race around England’s Isle of Wight. Since then, the Cup has become the centerpiece of an international competition driven by sailing crews, engineering teams, and wealthy sponsors - part boat race and part arms race to see which team can design and pilot the fastest craft.
As the sport has moved into the modern era, so have the methods used to give teams an edge once their boats hit the sea. Mauricio Munoz, a former student at the MIT AgeLab, is a research engineer at Jaguar Land Rover, embedded as a performance engineer at Land Rover BAR, bringing his expertise in data analysis and automotive engineering to the art (and science) of sailing. Mauricio applies machine learning and artificial intelligence to study the boat’s performance virtually, allowing multiple design tweaks simultaneously without having to take the craft in and out of the water.
Photo credit: Lloyd Images/BAR
Munoz says, “It’s just as much to have a really well-trained sailing team as it is to have a boat that’s easy to sail. When you connect the two, I think that’s what’s going to bring it home. I really think that the secret weapon of this America’s Cup is data.”
Watch a short video about Munoz’s work here.