A New Zealand company worked across continents to provide world-class tent shelters for America’s Cup racing teams.
By Jake Kulju
We’ve all heard about the stunning come-from-behind victory at the 2013 America’s Cup. Oracle Team USA’s victory drew national attention and was hailed by many as the most exciting America’s Cup victory in the event’s 162-year history.
But long before the halyards were hoisted and the jibs were cut out on the open water, another impressive performance was being given by Aukland, New Zealand-based tent installation company Baytex. The company was tasked with installing textile structures that housed the 72-foot catamarans and their impressive 134-foot wing sails for two competitive racing teams and the race management.
Baytex designed, manufactured and installed clearspan structures for the team bases of the Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ) team and the Luna Rossa Challenge 2013 team at the America’s Cup World Series, as well as a handful of smaller structures for the America’s Cup Race Management (ACRM) for the 34th America’s Cup.
“We already had a strong relationship with Emirates Team New Zealand and a number of the other racing syndicates from our previous work with ACRM for the AC45 America’s Cup World Series,” says Ben Lind of Baytex. “We had successfully designed and manufactured similar, smaller-scale team base structures for the syndicates competing in the event which, like the America’s Cup team bases, had a number of highly specific requirements. The opportunity from ACRM came along from what they’d seen of our work with Camper in the Volvo Ocean Race and their team base structure.
“ETNZ Shore Manager, Andy Nottage, approached us and we began the process,” Lind says. “Luna Rossa had a partnership with ETNZ and was set to do their preparation in Auckland, so were referred on to us [at the same time].”
Getting to work
Baytex created 72-foot-wide by 256-foot-long structures that sat 20 feet off the ground. The tents were designed to house the very large 72-foot racing catamarans and their 134-foot wing sails. The company designed and built two AC72 structures each for both teams—one to house the boat platforms and one for the giant wing sails. The tents were double container mounted and attached to ground foundations that leveraged the containers as partial ballast weight, storage and service spaces for the racing team staff. The unique design of the tents was a product of the need for easy erection and dismantling for storage and transportation to racing port venues across the globe.
The team bases were located at Pier 30 / 32 in San Francisco, Calif., where the structures were fully operational with water, power and IT systems within two weeks of the company’s arrival.
Baytex also supplied a number of other smaller structures for the teams that were in pride of place on Pier 39 at the America’s Cup venue. Most of the smaller structures were supplied as part of the AC45 campaign that was the precursor series to the main event.
The design phase of the project worked to resolve the issues affecting container attachments, as well as the specific operational requirements of each racing team. Perhaps the most significant challenge was meeting the stringent and varied building code requirements that the training and race venues enforce, along with compliance to AS/NZ Code, the new ASCE 7-10 U.S. Engineering Code. Among the most demanding design challenges was the San Francisco Port Authority Code, which demanded structures that could safely withstand wind speeds of up to 87 miles per hour.
“Two key features of the structures are the 56-foot-wide by 20-foot-high sliding curtain doors and the unique portal frames designed with sufficient strength to hold the weight of the boat hull,” Lind says. “When closed, the curtain doors are designed to withstand the full force of the wind loads required of the structure.”
Each structure employed front gables with heavy-duty trusses that could support the massive sliding door curtains. Baytex was required to make the bi-parting curtains in a way that allowed them to be quickly and easily opened to a full 55 feet wide to accommodate access to the boat hulls. The doors also had to close quickly to meet strict security requirements.
“The portals themselves are uniquely designed and engineered with sufficient load capacity to allow a 4-ton boat hull to be hoisted into the air to the desired height for all maintenance and development work,” Lind explains. “Interconnected electric chain motors were attached on both sides of each portal and, when fully raised, the crew had clear and safe access underneath the entire area of both hulls.”
As if designing, building and transporting first-rate fabric structures weren’t enough of a challenge, Baytex also had to meet specific deadlines while operating across continents. The racing teams needed quick setup that would allow them maximum sailing time once they arrived at the venue.
“[The tents] were originally set up in Auckland for the 12-month construction and trialing phase before being containerized for shipment to San Francisco,” Lind says. “Setup time for each of the big tents was approximately three days with 20 Baytex staff working on the project.”
While all eyes were on the skippers and their crews while they raced for the cup, Baytex also had an important role to play in the success of the event.
For America’s Cup events from July through September 2013 on San Francisco Bay, multiple tent and event specialists showed off their world-class structures and services. HTS-USA/Hocker Clearspan Structures was asked to supply a structure as beautiful and intelligently designed and engineered as the vessels in the competition, says Jeff McInnes, North American sales manager. The result was a two-story, 750-square-meter Manhattan-style structure dubbed America’s Cup Club 72.
“The structure had to have a cutting edge-aesthetic inside and out, offering defined exterior and interior spaces for entertainment, hospitality, event viewing, sail team and sponsor office areas, and specialty pop-up stores, such as the Louis Vuitton Boutique just inside the main entrance,” McInnes says.
The 25-by-30-meter structure featured a low-slope thermo roof; HTS Avant garde-style windows, doors and hard wall; cassette flooring; and second-level covered deck areas. HTS and the client, Condit Exhibits, collaborated on a variety of layouts to meet every criteria of the America’s Cup committee.
The build location at the end of a pier was a concern; the site was under the authority of multiple jurisdictions and, with unobstructed winds from three directions, required wind load capacity above and beyond the baseline code for San Francisco. HTS commissioned an engineering study of the site that identified every multiplier that could add to wind pressure on the structure and extrapolated the worst-case scenario wind load criteria. Such due diligence was worth it, as the company’s findings matched the requirements presented by code officials.
Once the design was settled, engineering and manufacturing was a race worthy of the event itself—HTS had 10 weeks from the date of order to having the finished product on site. In the end, HTS proved itself a winner, too, by taking home a 2013 IAA Outstanding Achievement Award for tent manufacturing and design for this structure.