One of the fastest yachts on the planet, based on those featured in the world-famous America’s Cup series, has been donated to W5, interactive science and discovery centre in Belfast.
The AC45 vessel is on loan from Artemis Technologies, the world’s leading high-performance maritime design and applied technologies company, which is also based in the city.
Born out of the Artemis Racing sailing team, a veteran of several America’s Cups, the firm is led by double Olympic champion Iain Percy OBE and is pioneering the research and development of new technology set to decarbonise the maritime industry.
The 45-foot foiling catamaran, raced in the 35th America’s Cup World Series, will form a key component of the newly redeveloped W5 visitor attraction, currently undergoing a £4.5 million refurbishment that will turn the facility into a truly world-class, innovative, and immersive science and discovery centre.
Iain Percy said: “W5 is Ireland’s premier interactive educational attraction promoting innovation, science, and technology making it a natural partner for Artemis Technologies.
“The AC45 yacht, capable of travelling at up to 50 knots, represents part of the journey towards reaching the very pinnacle in high-performance maritime engineering and we are pleased to showcase this to the hundreds of thousands of visitors W5 welcomes each year.
“It is the very same foiling technology contained within the AC45 that we are currently harnessing to design and develop the next wave in commercial craft that will deliver zero-emissions vessels – right here in Belfast.
“Through an immersive and fun experience, our part in the exhibition will illustrate the transition of hydrofoiling technology from the America’s Cup to zero-emissions transport in a manner that I know will inspire the next generation of innovators and highlight career and employment opportunities in the maritime and technology industry.”
Adrian Doyle, The Odyssey Trust, added: “The arrival of the Artemis Technologies catamaran marks a major milestone in W5’s £4.5 million transformation.
“The 45-foot vessel will be suspended from the ceiling of our ‘Move it’ zone and provide an impressive centrepiece to an exhibition area that will explore real-life engineering challenges in the motorsport and transport industries.
“The collaboration with Artemis Technologies is a perfect fit for The Odyssey Trust and provides a reminder of the rich maritime heritage of our city while also pointing towards an exciting new future in which Belfast will once again be a world leader in advancing new technologies.
“Our ‘Move it’ zone is one of eight exciting new zones opening on 6 June 2020. We look forward to welcoming visitors to the new, redeveloped and redefined W5.”
Artemis Technologies is the lead partner in a Belfast consortium that is bidding to return shipbuilding to the city.
The collaboration showcases Belfast’s existing research excellence and high-quality innovation capability encompasses academia, industry and local government.
It is the only applicant from Northern Ireland and from the maritime industry to be selected for the next stage of the UK Research and Innovation’s Strength in Places Fund
If successful, it will see more than £30m in funding go towards the consortium’s strategy to decarbonise maritime transportation, while also creating new commercial opportunities and laying the foundations for future product development pathways.
In December, Artemis Technologies announced a joint venture with Denmark’s Tuco Marine Group to produce the world’s first zero-emissions workboat in Belfast by integrating its new electric eFoiler propulsion system into an 11m carbon fibre vessel.
W5 is creating eight new themed exhibition areas and experiences which will be immersive and memorable, where visitors can become fully absorbed and engaged with STEM in a fun and interactive way.
When complete in June, the redeveloped W5 will feature a new approach to visitor engagement, creating dynamic content with new science shows, family events and activities.
The Artemis AC45 vessel will form part of the new ‘Move it’ zone at the centre.
The redevelopment of W5 has been supported by £3m awarded from the Inspiring Science Fund – a scheme co-founded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and Wellcome. £1.5m additional investment came from the Odyssey Trust, and Tourism NI, which provided nearly £400,000 from its Immersive Technology Fund.