Tom Schnackenberg, from New Zealand, has a unique
record as a principal participant in three landmark
America's Cup victories from Down Under. Schnackenberg
made a major contribution, in 1983, when Australia
II became the first yacht to take the America's Cup
away from the USA, breaking the Defenders' 132-year-grip
on the Cup and turning the America's Cup world upside
down. Both before and after that success, Schnackenberg
produced important innovations in sail design and
production technology. This included developing software
that calculated how to shape the seams in a sail to
produce a pre-determined 3D shape, and the introduction
of leech-cut and tri-radial genoas. During the Fremantle
defense, Schnackenberg introduced the Gennaker to
the America's Cup community as a downwind racing sail.
Eight years later with Team New Zealand, utilizing
his scientific and academic disciplines, Tom headed
a talented design team.
Every decision in the development of Team New Zealand's
BLACK MAGIC yachts had to answer a simple, but rigorously
imposed, question: does it make the boat go faster?
Another vital ingredient of BLACK MAGIC's stellar
performance was the total integration of all aspects
of the program and Schnackenberg embodied that with
his dual roles, both leading the design team and sailing
in the afterguard as navigator. Team New Zealand's
win in 1995 marked the second time the Cup left U.S.
shores. In 2000, the challenge was for Team New Zealand
to become the first non-U.S. syndicate to successfully
defend the Cup. Once again, as design team coordinator
and navigator, Tom Schnackenberg played a central
role in achieving that goal. Team New Zealand's 5-0
victory over PRADA meant that successive generations
of BLACK MAGIC yachts notched up an unprecedented
10-0 record in America's Cup matches.