Chapter Overview

How kiwi innovation revolutionised yacht racing

The history of the America's Cup, from 1851 to 2021.

  • Sails vs Wings
    Comparing the state-of-the-art (for 1851) schooner "America" with Te Rehutai, which flies over the water with foils and wings.
  • Time Tunnel
    The 170-year history of the America's Cup compressed into a two-minute time tunnel, including the longest winning streak in sporting history.

Kiwi designers thinking outside the box.

  • Innovation in our DNA
    Revealing the top-secret story of Team New Zealand getting America's Cup yachts up onto foils, and how they turned grinders into 'cyclors'!
  • History of Innovation
    How Team New Zealand has constantly changed the history of the America's Cup, right from the first challenge in the original plastic fantastics.

How young Kiwi are transforming sailing.

  • Powered by Youth
    In 2017, Team New Zealand had the youngest skipper and the youngest team ever to win the Cup, including 23-year-old engineer Elise Beavis.
  • Skipper of the Fa'afaite
    India Tabellini is skipper of the waka hourua Fa'afaite. She was just 25 years old when she sailed 4,300km from Tahiti to Tauranga.

Innovative Solutions for harnessing wind power.

  • Powered by Nature
    How Te Rehutai uses wings and foils to harness the power of wind and water, in the same ways we generate clean green electricity.
  • Hi-Tech Travel
    Take a close look at the innovative design features that allow waka hourua to efficiently harness the power of the wind.
  • Nanogirl Takes Flight
    Nanogirl Michelle Dickinson takes a look at how wings work and the Bernoulli Principle, and demonstrates how to build an aerofoil.

Download the America's Cup Overview PDF

Part 1 - Then and Now

Extension Exercises

  1. In Auckland in the 1850s, you would pay about £50 for a two roomed cottage (that's the equivalent of about $13,000 today). How much would you need to buy a two bedroom house in Auckland today?
  2. In 1851 the population of New Zealand was estimated to be 64,350 Māori, and 26,707 non-Māori. In that year, the New Zealand government carried out the first ever Census of the non-Māori population and asked people to list their birthplace. This is what they found:
    Percentage of population table

    How does this compare to the New Zealand population in 2020?

  3. When KZ1 took on the American catamaran "Stars and Stripes" in 1988, the "Big Boat" lost by a huge margin. Why was the much smaller catamaran so much faster? Look underneath the two boats and you will see the catamaran doesn't have a huge keel. What does this do to the drag of the boat through the water?
  4. The first patented life jacket appeared in 1854 and was made of cork. How have life jackets changed over the years? What will they look like in the future? If you were designing a life jacket, what things would you include? A heater? A radio? A games console?
  5. For more in-depth coverage of the history of the America's Cup, check out the America's Cup website - History

Dedicated Followers of Fashion

Download Paper Dolls For Costume Design PDF

Costume Design PDF thumbnail image

Bigger is Better

Tip: To help keep the students engaged while outdoors measuring the size of boats and planes - try using a trundle wheel. Go to the Creative Classrooms website - Trundle Wheel for more information

Extension Exercises

  1. What other facts could be added to the Yacht Dimension table? How many crew were on each boat? What was the top speed of each boat, in knots and in km/h? How fast are the boats compared to humans walking, running, cycling, in a car?
  2. What other facts could be added to the Aeroplane Dimension table? How fast are the planes? How much cargo can they carry? When did they first appear in the air?


Yacht Dimensions

Download Yacht Dimensions PDF

Yacht Dimensions PDF thumbnail image

Part 2 - Innovation is in our DNA

Burn, Baby, Burn

For an extension exercise in testing muscle fatigue, check out the Science Learn website - Finger Marathon. In this activity, students investigate muscle fatigue using the action of opening and closing a clothes peg. Extension ideas include graphing, averages and further investigations into fitness and recovery times.

On Your Bike

If any students are inspired to add hydrofoils to their bicycle, they're not alone. Using the same technology as America’s Cup yachts, an amazing team of New Zealand innovators have created the world's first Hydrofoil eBike! Check it out at the Manta 5 website.

Manta 5 hydrofoil image

Part 3 - Powered by Youth

The Brain Power of Youth

A Metric Ruler, one or more volunteers, a table and a chair.

Sit each subject in the chair and place their forearm so it extends over the edge of the table. Place their thumb and index finger on either side of the bottom of the vertically placed ruler. The number “1” should be on the bottom, the “30” near the top.
The tester holds the ruler so that the bottom of the ruler is just above the subject's fingers. Tell the subject the ruler will drop sometime in the next 5 seconds, and their job is to catch it between thumb and forefinger as soon as they sense it dropping.
Drop the ruler and record the number on the ruler displayed just over their thumb. The lower the number, the faster their reaction time. Repeat the experiment several times and you should expect that many of your volunteers will show a slight improvement with practise.

When we begin to acquire a new physical skill through repetition, our nervous system creates new neural pathway - a phenomenon often referred to as muscle memory. However, no matter how good your muscle memory, it will always take some time for the falling ruler to travel as a message from your eyes to your brain and from your brain to your fingers.

Drag Racing

A tall jar or vase, some plasticine, a stopwatch, a pen and some paper.

Fill the clear container with water. Shape the plasticine and time how long it takes to descend to the bottom of the water. Change the shape and repeat. Keep a record of the shapes and the respective times.

Gravity pulls things down in the water, while buoyancy pushes upward against gravity. Different objects behave differently in the water depending on their density and their surface area. If the surface area is increased there are more water particles pushing against it and slowing it down. When you reduce the surface area, you lower the drag, so the object moves through the water more easily so will travel faster.

Extension Exercises

By changing the shape of the plasticine - can you make it float?

When the plasticine ball is placed in the water it displaces, or pushes aside the water. Whether the plasticine will be buoyant is determined by Archimedes’ Principle, which states that any object in a fluid is buoyed up by a force equal to the weight of the fluid displaced by the object.

When the plasticine is placed in water there are two forces working on it in opposite directions. Gravitational force pulls the plasticine down while buoyant force pushes it upwards. Gravity pulls the plasticine down with a force equal to the weight of the plasticine, while its buoyancy pushes the plasticine upwards with a force equal to the weight of the water that the plasticine displaced. If the plasticine can displace a volume of water that is equal or greater than the weight of the plasticine, then it will be buoyant, and float.

When the plasticine is in the form of a ball, it displaces only a small volume of water and so it sinks. Changing the shape of the plasticine doesn’t change the weight of the plasticine, but does change the amount of water displaced. By pushing aside more water, the buoyant force was more than the gravitational force and the plasticine boat floated.

Putty boat image

The plasticine boat was also filled with air. This decreased the density, helping the boat to float. Large ships like the ferry or cruise liners have wide U-shaped hulls that displace enormous volumes of water, and also tend to be hollow. This decreases the density of the ship and helps keep the ship afloat despite being loaded with cars, cargo, and passengers.

The Ultimate Game Controller

Download Game Controller Template PDF

Game Controller Template PDF thumbnail image

Part 4 - Powered by Nature

Nanogirl's Lab

Nanogirl (AKA Dr Michelle Dickinson) believes science is for everyone, and increasing diversity and inclusion in STEM fields is one of the key outcomes of her work. She specialises in designing inclusive ways to reach and empower wide audiences, including those who are too often left behind. For more videos and resources that inspire, educate and empower, check out the Nanogirl website

Flight Experiments

Download this Grown-Up's Guide to Nanogirl's Lab and find everything you'll need to support your children as they work through activities to build the superpower of flight. Download the children's Superhero Training Manual for worksheets associated with building a Wind Racer.

Wind Racer

Download this Grown-Up's Guide to Nanogirl's Lab and find everything you'll need to support your children as they build their own Wind Racer. Download the children's Superhero Training Manual for worksheets associated with the Flight superpower activities.

Extension Exercise: The Beaufort Scale

Imagine you are watching the America's Cup racing on the Waitematā in a steady summer breeze blowing at about 18 knots. The sailors onboard Te Rehutai are traveling so fast they will be experiencing winds of around 50 knots. To put that into context, that is a storm force 10 on the Beaufort Scale!

Admiral Beaufort
Beaufort Scale

Other writers have come up with different scales for measuring relative windspeed.

Funny Windspeed Scale

Get the class to come up with their own imaginative descriptions for relative windspeed.

Download the Beaufort Force Tables PDF

Beaufort Force Tables PDF thumbnail

KIWI CAN FLY - The America's Cup