Ker Yacht Design has been intensely involved with the America's Cup since 2003, when Jason Ker was invited to set up and lead a design team for the South African Americas Cup challenger "Shosholoza".
Between 2009 and 2014, Ker continued to develop their optimisation technology, using it to develop a revolutionary racing yacht in 2012 and in 2013 undertaking some ship optimisation projects where very significant performance gains were made and proved in large scale tank tests. Near the end of 2013, Jason Ker was approached to join the formative stages of the Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR) Americas Cup team and as the needs of the team grew through 2014, KYD soon provided four additional designers to the team for the 33rd campaign. KYD's designers were involved right across the spectrum of core design activities, from structural engineering to systems design to software programming, Jason Ker was personally full time involved for the first year, closely directing the development of the teams advanced simulation and optimisation capabilities, liaising with technical partners at Red Bull Advanced Technologies and also finding time to design the boards for the first training boat and the boards and rudders for the second training boat.
Although invited to continue as the head of the Shosholoza design team, Jason Ker was ready for a new adventure and decided instead to join United Internet Team Germany, a team that Shosholoza had easily beaten at every encounter in 2007, but one that was prepared to transform itself by spending its considerable resources on an almost completely renewed design and sailing team. The protocol allowed and the schedule dictated that the team should start building their first boat only four months after the assembly of the design team, so the large team of designers was working flat-out from the start and continuing up until the court case decision against the event holders Alinghi and then winding down to a stop after six months. Although a short campaign it was hugely educational, with the team being made up of a selection of the best availiable personnel from all the major teams of the 32nd AC. Extensive CFD code comparisons and tank testing validations allowed Ker to leave with a library of new knowledge as well as a clear knowledge of where they were relatively weak and where they were actually technical leaders in the previous cup cycle. Particular insights was gained into the benefits and pitfalls of different management structures, while much was learned working with a highly experienced sailing team.
At the louis Vuitton series races in 2007 the predominantly South African crewed Shosholoza showed herself to be highly competitive, taking wins from big-budget teams such as Luna Rossa and even spending more time ahead of BMWOracle Racing's yacht in their last three encounters than behind. The performance of Shosholoza was achieved through following a highly technical approach in which Jason recruited engineers and scientists at the forefront of their specialities and directed them to develop tools and techniques that would enable the team to develop performance improvements in the virtual world rather than by building and testing multiple boats and sails. Use of these techniques also allowed the highly budget-concious team to be able to confidently prioritise purchases on a €/second basis and achieve the best performance for money.