Ex Sandspit sailor plays key part in America’s Cup

The dream of holding the America’s Cup became a reality for Team New Zealand mechanical engineer and former Sandspit resident, Tim Meldrum.

Former Sandspit resident Tim Meldrum fulfilled a boyhood dream when he played an important part in designing the America’s Cup-winning boat.

The 40-year-old, who lives in North Shore, worked on the Team New Zealand boat for two-and-a-half years as a mechanical engineer.

“It was a pretty special moment to be a part of the winning team,” Tim says.

“I remember being at Martins Bay when we won in 1995 and thinking, ‘I want to be a part of that one day’.”

Tim worked on the much-discussed invention that saw grinders replaced with cyclists on the Team NZ boat.

“It’s a pretty unconventional idea with grinders used for around 30 years in the sport.

“I think some teams would’ve had resistance to the idea, but ours was good in making a measured decision to use it.”

He says the design is one that makes sense utilising a powerful muscle group, but still required a very scientific approach.

It took two months for Tim and his team to develop the first prototype, which was then adapted multiple times.

“My job as an engineer is to look at different parts of the boat and how I can design them to be dynamic and cohesive with the rest of the structure.

“It’s been great working with Team NZ because you get to see an idea through from its concept phase to the finished product.”

He says the cycling alone could not have won the cup, but it made a valuable contribution as one component of the multi-hull.

“It allowed the team to have more control over the foils and also gave them the benefits of being more aerodynamic and having their hands free.”

Tim’s role also saw him very involved during the race period in Bermuda.

“The boat is a very highly strung machine, so we had rigorous checking procedures to do and towards the end, my job was mostly maintenance and inspection.

“It’s all about making sure you do the hard work with preparation and then you can sail a clinical race.”
Tim enjoys the design and hands-on side of the job and thanks his family for helping him be inventive as a boy.

“My Dad was always helping me build things like a trolley for the derby so I picked up loads from him and my grandfathers were an engineer and architect.”

He also enjoys sailing, and was a member of the Sandspit Yacht Club, and sailed with the Mahurangi College team.

“I wasn’t amazing, but I certainly had a passion for it and during the America’s Cup racing I got pretty nervous and sometimes could barely watch.”

He is keen to stay with Team NZ and is confident that they can defend their title.

“I would be excited to join the team again and regardless of what boats are used, there is always room for innovation.”


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