Here’s wing designer Joseph Ozzane and his ‘sail’:
The people off to the side give you the scale – around 143 feet tall, just immense. Here’s how it looks on the water:
That’s the morning launch of the Team USA Oracle boat (the team sponsored by TAG Heuer). The official name for the process is “dock out.”
Here’s the New Zealand competition:
At most sponsored events, the contribution of the watchmaker is usually just money in return for advertising. In this case, it’s more in-depth than just cash. Crew member Gilberto Nobili, whose title is “grinder,” creates custom watches for each crew member. They’re actually smartwatches, Android-based devices receiving data from an on-boat WiFi network. Each crew member has a different set of numbers that they need to do their job, and the captain and tactician have arm-mounted PDAs with bigger screens. Here’s Gilberto with his new TAG Heuer smartwatch:
It’s called the TAG Heuer Aquaracer 72, named for the current AC72 boat class, but don’t expect to see this one in a store as it’s custom made for Team Oracle. The details are interesting, and no doubt some of these will float around in collector’s circles in the future. The Aquaracer 52 has been designer for the Team Oracle crew, and each person has a uniquely configured watch with information useful to their job on-board. Aquaracer 72 is 51mm wide in a titanium case and has a ceramic bezel insert (on the rotating bezel). The watch can withstand force up to 5000 Gs (not surprising as there really aren’t moving parts), but is only “splash resistant” (read: about 30m of water resistance). Weight is very low at just 108 grams though. A cool and useful design, items such as this Wi-Fi connected sailing watch will no doubt hint at the future of professional-use smartwatches.
This was the coolest part of the trip, in that here was a place and a sport where a watch really made a big difference in the race. How cool is that? Titanium, 51mm wide, 108 grams, shock resistant up to 5,000Gs, and a ceramic bezel. Each watch has the same case, but different software that displays the numbers specific to the needs of each role on the boat (the bezel rotates, but I’m still unclear how you’d actually use it).
So now you’ve heard it, TAG Heuer has a smartwatch with the AC72 that has specially developed for actual sailors, that is also actually a cool watch that doesn’t have a lame plastic case. While this may be a bit of a prophesy at this point, we really think that items such as the TAG Heuer AC72 are the future of smartwatches, in that a great brand with the knowledge of how to make a great wristwatch works with the most modern software and technology to produce something even us snobs want.
There were other sponsors, of course. I had to share this picture – those cones form the starting line of each race.
Another tie-in worth mentioning is the sunglasses. TAG Heuer, as mentioned, makes lots of very good eyewear and sunglasses. For the America’s Cup, they made a special pair of sunglasses that has both a hydrophobic coating and a horizontal stripe of non-polarized glass. The hydrophobic (repels water) coating is new, and solves the problem of salt water caking on the lens while the non-polarized section lets them read the LCD screen of their watch. One of the drawbacks of smartwatches is that LCD screens have plane-polarized reflected light, which can appear blotchy or black with polarized sunglasses. This innovation from TAG Heuer solves that problem neatly. They also used the same hydrophobic coating on the AC72 watches to keep the display clear and legible.