by Giuliano Luzzatto
Dan Bernasconi, the mind behind America’s Cup Team Emirates New Zealand’s AC75 and AC40 yacht design, also plays a pivotal role in developing Gomboc, the software that drives the design process
Gomboc stands as an innovative yacht design and simulation tool crafted by SumToZero, conceived by Dan Bernasconi with the contribution of his colleagues [see box]. Bernasconi, Jean-Claude Monnin and Mark de Gid chose the name SumToZero for the company “because when a yacht is in equilibrium, all the forces sum to zero.”
Gomboc is as an advanced yacht design and simulation tool, propelled by a robust physics engine that models masses, forces, accelerations, and reference frames. Tailored components enable precise modeling of appendages, hulls, sails, wind, and waves.
The software boasts an open interface, accommodating detailed system modeling, from a simple mass-spring setup to intricate yachts with hydraulic and electronic controls.
Gomboc’s real-time models operate interactively, akin to driving or flight simulators, with seamless integration of steering wheels and other input devices for enhanced control and realism. Graphics can be rendered on monitors or within VR headsets, providing a dynamic and immersive experience.
The software also offers interactive and optimization modes, employing Gomboc’s optimization engines to iterate on design parameters for optimal performance under defined constraints.
GUI: foil design interface
A standout feature is Gomboc’s appendage foil design interface, facilitated by an intuitive GUI.
This tool allows the development and instant analysis of appendage shapes through a coupled hydrodynamic and structural solver, providing insights into lift, drag, cavitation margin, stress, deflection, and twist. Designs can be exported as 3D surfaces, streamlining the construction process.
Emirates Team New Zealand has successfully employed Gomboc in designing and building foils and rudders over the past decade.
The software’s flexibility extends to its modeling environment, structured around interconnected blocks similar to MATLAB Simulink. This approach allows users to create custom blocks or leverage pre-built ones, enhancing the versatility of yacht design.
Beyond its GUI, Gomboc is scriptable, featuring an extensive API for code-based interactions. This not only adds depth to the user experience but also facilitates large-scale optimizations and parallel computations. The onboarding process is user-friendly, accommodating missing data through effective workarounds.