Visitors and locals alike were thrilled to witness the return of America’s Cup sailing to the waters off Newport, RI, last weekend, but for the folks at KVH, the event had special meaning. Back in 1978, the syndicate for France III – a 12-meter yacht preparing for the 1980 America’s Cup challenger series – asked engineer and sailing enthusiast Mr. A.H. Kits van Heyningen to develop a yacht racing computer. Four years later, Sailcomp was introduced, giving the marine world its first digital fluxgate compass – and a start for KVH Industries.
So it was particularly exciting for KVH’s President & CEO Martin Kits van Heyningen – Mr. Kits’ son – to watch the America’s Cup World Series racing and see KVH products playing a key role on the race course. “100% of the America’s Cup racing boats have a KVH CNS-5000 fiber optic gyro-based navigation system on board,” says Kits van Heyningen.
For the Newport event, a World Series regatta leading up to the America’s Cup Final in San Francisco in September 2013, the teams raced in AC45s—wing-sailed catamarans that cut through the water at speeds exceeding 20 knots. A black tube at the back of the catamaran supports the GPS antenna from the KVH CNS-5000.
Kits van Heyningen also toured the broadcast facilities that made real-time graphics and live broadcasting of the racing a reality – under the command of Stan Honey, Director of Technology for the 34th America’s Cup. Honey happens to be a member of KVH’s Board of Directors, a role he has held since 1997.
“Stan gave me a tour of the broadcast facility during the racing. I had no idea it was this complicated. They have about 100 people working this. Seventy of them are on shore manning monitors in about two dozen trailers,” says Kits van Heyningen.
The America’s Cup boats are heading to San Francisco now, and although they won’t be back to Newport for the next phase of the 34th America’s Cup, KVH sure will be: Every AC72, the 72-foot catamarans that will be used for the Finals, will have the KVH CNS-5000.
Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.