KVH Inertial Nav on America’s Cup Boats in Bermuda

Onboard each of the America’s Cup Championship (ACC) foiling catamarans rocketing around the Bermuda racecourse this month are six fierce sailors and a slew of advanced technology—including KVH’s CNS-5000 inertial navigation system. However, the CNS-5000 isn’t there to help the sailors—it’s there to deliver inertial nav data and help television audiences watch the sailors in action.

America's Cup yacht and KVH CNS-5000
A black tube at the back of every America’s Cup Championship foiling catamaran supports KVH’s CNS-5000 GPS antenna. Photo: Ricardo Pinto, ACEA 2017

KVH’s CNS-5000 inertial navigation system is on every America’s Cup boat (as well as course marks and a helicopter) because it is key to the America’s Cup LiveLineTM graphics. These graphics are used during televised coverage to show the race start and finish lines, boundary lines, distance to the mark, distance between boats, and how much time the boats spend on their foils flying over the water.

Using the same technology that produces the Virtual Yellow 1st & Ten® line for football, the America’s Cup LiveLine graphics were developed specifically for America’s Cup broadcasts by Sportvision, now a division of SMT. The big benefit for sailing and sports fans is that the graphics make it possible to watch a sailing race on television and see who is winning and losing, even when the boats are sailing on opposite sides of the racecourse to reach the mark.

In a video, Mark Sheffield, America’s Cup LiveLine director, explains: “We use GPS tracking on each of the yachts you can see on the water, also on the marks, and also the helicopter, and combine all of the data to allow us to render graphics in real-time.”

The KVH CNS-5000 inertial navigation system on the America’s Cup boats, marks, and helicopter in Bermuda provides the precise GPS information augmented by inertial navigation data that the America’s Cup LiveLine team uses in order to render its real-time graphics.

KVH CNS-5000 inertial navigation system
KVH’s CNS-5000 inertial navigation system is on every America’s Cup Championship boat in Bermuda, as well as on the course marks and helicopter.

The power behind the precision comes from the fact that the KVH CNS-5000 inertial navigation system combines two complementary technologies: KVH’s fiber optic gyro-based inertial measurement unit (three axes of fiber optic gyros integrated with three accelerometers) with NovAtel’s OEM6® GNSS precision receiver technology—all in a single enclosure.

The final races of the 35th America’s Cup, in Bermuda, are planned for June 17-18, and June 24-25, with NBC Sports broadcasting live coverage. With KVH, inertial nav, and America’s Cup LiveLine, it’s a whole new way to watch sailboat racing.


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About Jill Connors 94 Articles
In orbit as Media Relations Manager for KVH Industries, Inc.