19 April 2007, Mazda is bringing its Zoom-Zoom spirit to the high-tech world of yacht racing this week, by sponsoring the ‘home’ team at this year’s America’s Cup staged in the waters off Valencia. Spain’s Desafio Español squad is one of 11 teams fighting for the opportunity to challenge the defending champions, Switzerland’s Alinghi, for the cup in late June.
At the pinnacle of sailing competition, the America’s Cup is the Formula 1 of yacht racing, with each multi-million dollar carbon-hulled challenger capable of speeds up to 20 knots (23 mph) – without an engine. Built in Valencia last year, the Spanish team’s mono-hull ESP-97 boat has already shown its pace in preliminary events and currently holds equal-second place in the challenger’s rankings.
The Mazda-sponsored boat measures 25.5m long, 33.0m high, 3.7m wide and has a draught of 4.1m including its distinctive, hydrodynamic ‘keel and bulb’. The vertical keel features the Mazda slogan ‘Zoom-Zoom’ and the lead bulb, which accounts for 19 of the boat’s 24 tons, proudly sports the Mazda logo.
According to the team’s technical manager, Agustin Zulueta, the steel keel and lead bulb with side ‘wings’ of the ESP-97 are as crucial to the boat’s performance as the wings and numerous aerodynamic ‘add-on’ devices proliferating in this season’s Formula 1. “The design of the bulb is crucial to our boat’s stability and to its acceleration while tacking,” observed Zulueta.
“The blend of stylish design with high-technology in America’s Cup boats is a perfect match to Mazda’s Zoom-Zoom philosophy,” commented Mazda UK's Managing Director Rob Lindley. “While racing, Mazda’s presence will be on the boat’s hidden technology beneath the waves, but that is in line with our policy of delivering dynamic performance in a discreet and sophisticated manner.”
AMERICA’S CUP 2007
Round Robin 1 & 2
April 16-to-23 / April 25-to-May 7. Each of the 11 challengers races the other boats twice for overall points in a league table.
May 13-to-25. Best four challengers in a knock-out competition.
June 1-to-12. Best two challengers in a knock-out competition.
America’s Cup Match
June 23-to-July 7. Single, top challenger goes through to race the defending champion, the Swiss ‘Alinghi’ team. First boat to win five races is the new holder of the America’s Cup.