Ken McAlpine has been at the heart of the competition for the America’s Cup for over 30 years, witnessing the America’s Cup evolve from the 12-Metre Class through the America’s Cup Class to the foiling catamarans of the 35th America’s Cup Match. During this period, he measured more America’s Cup yachts than any other person in the history of the Cup. In this role, he demonstrated an intimate knowledge of the class rules; and, he also assisted in the development of the 12-Metre Class rule and the America’s Cup Class rule.
McAlpine’s love for the sea developed during his childhood in Sydney, Australia, and so it was natural that he went on to train as a naval architect. His involvement with the America’s Cup began in the seventies, and in 1983, on behalf of the Australian Yachting Federation, he was appointed measurer for AUSTRALIA II and CHALLENGE 12. Following the success of AUSTRALIA II, McAlpine was appointed a member of the Measurement Committee for the Cup’s defense in Fremantle, Australia.
McAlpine has lived in a world of secrecy and discretion: he was often the first to learn about loopholes found by design teams and was often faced with the extraordinary pressure to safeguard the deepest secrets of Cup yacht designs. He has ruled on complex technical matters such as AUSTRALIA II’s winged keel and Team New Zealand’s “Hula” hull. Few people realize what it means to deal with the brightest minds in the sport lead by the wealthiest men on earth who, each in their own way, are experts in exerting pressure to have matters swing their way.
During his long America’s Cup tenure, Ken McAlpine has used his naval architectural and engineering skills, along with tact, patience, and interpersonal skills to deliver a playing field as level as possible within the confines of the sport. His dedication and integrity in performing these tasks had a profound peacekeeping and stabilizing influence in the ever-growing complexity of the technology-driven competition for the America’s Cup.