Product Development with the America’s Cup

Designing and developing the next generation of performance sailing shoes with America's Cup athletes.

November 10, 2016
in Design

Through our partnership with the America’s Cup, our product team has been working with sailors and athletes from ORACLE TEAM USA and SoftBank Team Japan to design new products that specifically meet the needs of America’s Cup sailors.

America’s Cup yachts sail at speeds of up to 50 knots and foil above the water. As sailors maneuver and tack through the race course, athletes must keep their balance on a trampoline-like net. Having the right shoes to help keep a firm grip on the boat’s fast-moving surface is an essential part of succeeding in the sport.

For the past year, Sperry designers have been working side-by-side with the world’s best sailors to understand how to make a product that can stand up to the intense sailing conditions of the America’s Cup. In meeting with the athletes, things like traction, grip, ankle support, and fit became common themes during discussions.

Countless other sponsors have designed new products to improve boat speed and efficiency on the water, but through our partnership we’ve worked to create a purpose-built product that will specifically meet the athletes’ needs. Much like with Paul Sperry’s original design of the Authentic Original boat shoe, our product team honed in on creating a product to solve a problem.

Sperry Product Team members Christian Allen and Kris Couture met with America’s Cup athletes from SoftBank Team Japan and ORACLE TEAM USA at the team bases in Bermuda to review the latest prototype of the new performance product.

Working in partnership with athletes on and off the water, elements of existing Sperry products were put to the test. Athletes constantly pointed to three key qualities that they needed to succeed: fit, grip, and drainage. Recognizing the need for a product that could truly meet the needs of the sailors, our team was able to pinpoint the key elements needed to create a product that could be used to get a grip on the high seas during America’s Cup races.

Check out the video for an inside look into our latest product development session.

Athletes from ORACLE TEAM USA and SoftBank Team Japan will be wearing the final version of this new performance product as they take on challengers from around the globe in Fukuoka Japan on November 18 and 19. Stay tuned for more information by following Sperry on social media.

Sperry is an Official Partner of the 35th America’s Cup, the exclusive Official Footwear Supplier of ORACLE TEAM USA and the Official Supplier of SoftBank Team Japan.


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