Ferrari and CONI – An Olympic collaboration
Back in 2006, a collaboration was initiated between CONI (Italian National Olympic Committee) and Ferrari to see technology transferred to Olympic disciplines and at the London 2012 Olympics this has been applied to Archery, Rowing and Canoeing/Kayaking. The first step in this ambitious project has involved studying the demands of these sports in scientific/engineering terms, as put forward by the three Federations involved. Transforming them into reality has been down to a team of twelve engineers from various specialisations.
In the case of Archery, initial studies led to the design of a piece of equipment capable of firing objectively and repeatably, so as to replicate the bow system and its modifications without the subjective variable introduced by the archers themselves. At the moment, the equipment, called the Tuning Shooting Machine does not just faithfully reproduce the behaviour of the moving parts of the bow, but can also tackle the task of standardising the criteria for choosing arrows and the speeding up of the procedure of fine tuning the bow.
This instrument along with rigs in the laboratory also allowed for the definition of a reliable methodology to understand how the geometric and mechanical characteristics of the arrows and/or the bow impact on performance. All this was achieved with a dedicated software programme, developed in close cooperation with Ferrari, CONI and the engineers and athletes of the Federations. With the bow, in order to meet the requests of the athletes relating to the rigidity of the string, in depth bibliographic research was instigated into the various filaments that made up the cord, and then this led to research into which filaments had the best characteristics, these were compared to the current ones, which also led to an increase in the rigidity of the threads that make up the cord of around 50%.
In Rowing, the main objectives were the increase of stability and increase in hydrodynamic efficiency and a reduction in the pitching moment: from a dynamic/film study of the system consisting of the boat + crew to minimise pitch and roll, came a design for a new skiff, the F13 (2x) (+15% of flexing rigidity, +8% of torsional rigidity for the same weight,) and an optimized rowlock/hull interface, while the evaluation of two concepts for centre boards currently used has led to the construction of three new geometries. To obtain bio-mechanical data regarding the rowing, an ergometric instrument was designed to measure the mechanical parameters of the rowing stroke.
Applications for the Canoe and Kayak disciplines evaluated the resistance to forward motion of the models used, with particular attention given to the understanding of the phenomena of resistance and its various components derived from the motion of the craft itself. This led to research on the behaviour of the hull and the existing types of rudder and the paddling strength of the athletes. From this came the design of a new rudder, more effective than the current one (K1,) three paddles and a sensor to transmit dynamic and cinematic data of the athlete and physical data, speed, position and so forth of the craft.