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The role of IT in winning the America's Cup - and in particular Oracle's technological contribution - has been acknowledged by the victorious Oracle Team USA.

Oracle Team USA's head of performance is Australian Ian Burns, who was part of the Kookaburra team that unsuccessfully defended the America's Cup in 1987, a team member of the champion maxi yacht Sayonara, and in 2001 became one of the original members of the Oracle BMW team that morphed into Oracle Team USA.

On stage at Oracle Open World this morning (US time), Burns said the analysis of data to work out how to get the best performance from the boat "was the thing that eventually got us over the line."

He said the team learned more about the boats every time they went on the water.

According to Burns, between 1GB and 2GB of data was collected from 300 sensors on each boat per day.

Another 100GB of video was also collected and analysed in conjunction with the data.

The magnitude of the effects of this process was highlighted by Oracle Team USA grinder/trimmer Shannon Falcone who said that at the start of the (northern) summer, the team's boats were reaching maximum speeds of 34 knots downwind, but the progressive improvements meant they were able to reach 30 knots into the wind and 47 knots downwind.

Golden Gate Yacht Club vice-commodore Tom Ehman suggested the New Zealand team might not have had such good IT behind it, a line that went down well among the partisan Oracle audience.

While winning the America's Cup after trailing 8-1 is one of the greatest comebacks in sport (up there with the 1999 Champions League final where Manchester United turned a 1-0 score at 90 minutes into a 1-2 victory by the end of injury time, and Steven Bradbury's gold medal in the 2002 Winter Olympics), perhaps the last word should go to Mr Falcone.

Even when Emirates Team New Zealand only needed to win one more race to secure the cup, the attitude at Oracle Team USA was "let's go out, sail fast, and have fun," he said.

The writer attended Oracle Open World as a guest of Oracle.

Image: Kevin Prichard Photography (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences, a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies, and is a senior member of the Australian Computer Society.

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