America’s Cup is known as both the pinnacle of yachting and the oldest trophy in the history of sport. Yet competition for the cup is so fierce that it thrusts sailing into the future, and re-invents itself as a new sport every time sailors compete for it.
Canadian yacht builder Steve Killing has been at the forefront of some of the most recent accelerations in sailing. As both a member of the cutting-edge Emirates Team New Zealand Challenge in 2013, and then an official for America’s Cup 2017, Killing is uniquely positioned to give an insiders look into the competition’s latest incarnation. And also to answer the question: “Now that yachts can fly, what will they do in 2021?”
Killing will be giving a presentation called America’s Cup 2017 and Beyond: The Drama Continues, on August 25 Knox United Church (345 Pym St., Parksville). Beginning at 2 p.m., Killing will discuss some of the biggest controversies, upsets and technological advances in recent America’s Cup history from the perspective of a yacht designer and builder, and as an insider.
Given the role of one of just three measurers for America’s Cup 2017, Killing had access to every team and yacht being developed. He saw the secrets and the not-so-secrets of the teams as they developed brand-new yachts made for speed.
“The neat thing about the measuring job is you get to see the thought process of each competitor,” said Killing. “So you’ve got these five different countries and their approach to making boats go fast.”
Killing’s passion for sailing began when his father built a small dinghy sailboat in the family living room. Learning from his uncle how to sail, Killing said he couldn’t imagine a better job than to design sailboats for a living.
Earning a degree in civil engineering from the University of Western Ontario in 1972, Killing soon went to work for C & C Yachts for seven years before striking out on his own.
Killing’s interest has been varied, designing a variety of boats including kayaks, canoes, racing sailboats and many more. His first involvement in America’s Cup was in 1983 with team Canada returning to the competition for the first time in more than 100 years.
He then became the head designer for Canada’s True North Challenge team in 1987 where he championed the use of a computer velocity prediction program.
More recently, Killing was a team member for Emirates Team New Zealand Challenge in 2013 when they stunned the yachting world by coming up with a hydrofoil design that lifted the hull of their catamaran out of the water, and nonetheless adhered to the competition’s rules.
“In that event, they (officials) had not expected people to be able to fly,” given the rules set out, said Killing. “But, with perseverance and a lot of fine-tuning, New Zealand discovered how to fly. They were the first. Unfortunately, we sort of showed our hand a little early while we were practicing in New Zealand, and then the Americans said, ‘Holy cow, these things really can fly,’ so then they started working on the process as well.”
Killing worked on the design of the hull for team New Zealand, and the appendages that held the hydrofoils in the water.
He, like his teammates, felt the sting when the American team made a stunning come-from-behind victory over the New Zealand team in 2013.
Nonetheless, the use of hydrofoils provided a huge technological leap in sailing around the world, and effectively turned the competition for America’s Cup 2013 into a whole new sport.
And Killing would not have to wait long to see his former teammates succeed. He had a front-row-seat to the 2017 competition that saw Emirates Team New Zealand win America’s Cup.
Though not officially a part of the upcoming America’s Cup 2021 competition taking place in Auckland, New Zealand, Killing said he’ll be watching with interest. After attending Killing’s presentation, you probably will be, too.
Steve Killing’s presentation takes place on August 25 at Knox United Church (345 Pym St., Parksville), starting at 2 p.m. Tickets are $25. A second presentation for Victoria is also in the works. To purchase tickets, _______________, call Paul Vincent 250-937-8911, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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