America's Cup in 2013: Oracle Team USA vs. Emirates Team New Zealand (A)
Four teams across the world are furiously designing, building, testing, and learning to sail a boat that would be one-of-a-kind, in order to win the 2013 America's Cup. Choosing the best development path was a challenge as the teams had less than three years to prepare, and each decision would affect the performance of the boat as well as the duration of the sailors' training. The case traces the dilemma faced by the favorite, ORACLE TEAM USA (OTUSA), as rumors grew that the challenger was pursuing a revolutionary technology that would enable its six-ton boat to literally fly above waves. With only a year left before the Cup, should OTUSA keep refining its current technology called "skimming", or should it pivot towards "foiling" (flying)? At this stage "foiling" could be a red herring, and even if it was not, the limits of the performance of a foiling boat would remain a mystery for some time. The case explores the dilemma of managing innovation in an uncertain environment, where the decision would be sanctioned a year later by a win or a loss.