DuPont de Nemours (NYSE: DD) is a global technology powerhouse offering innovative solutions in agriculture, electronics and advanced materials, and in fact, was the first company to patent Kevlar in 1966 as part of a research program to develop a lightweight, strong material to replace the steel used in high-performance tires.
In addition to helping protect countless human lives through its use in bulletproof vests, it has many other applications, such as reinforcement in building construction, cable manufacturing and even aircraft and satellite fuselages. However, there is an incredible story behind its use in racing sailboats for the manufacture of the hulls and sails of these vessels in the oldest and most esteemed racing competitions: The America’s Cup.
For 132 years since its inception in 1851, the competition had been dominated by the USA. However, in the 1970s, Australian millionaire Alan Bond set out to shatter the status quo by building a cutting-edge, disruptive sailboat that would rival the Americans. To do so, they experimented with the use of Kevlar, as it was a new technology and material never before seen in the yachting industry.
This is how Australia II was born, a sailboat that possessed a series of technological advances that would make it the winner in what many called “the race of the century.” Kevlar was used in its rigging and hull construction, making it stronger and lighter than its competitors. It also incorporated innovative design elements which the crew tried to hide from their competitors by covering the sailboat with a cloth to keep the new design a secret. This led the rivalry to report the boat to the judges, but after an inspection, it was determined that the Australia II was completely legal, and its only oddity was that it was too innovative.
The Australians managed to win the Cup and end 132 years of American dominance. Since that historic day, DuPont de Nemours (NYSE: DD) Kevlar has been an essential material in marine construction. Whether in racing sailboats, luxury yachts, transport or military vessels, all incorporate Kevlar to reinforce their hulls and generate greater impact resistance while lightening the overall weight of the vessel, leading to fuel and energy savings while racing.
DuPont de Nemours (NYSE: DD) Kevlar became a reminder of the power of innovation and disruption. It is a testament to the fact that one breakthrough can cause a ripple effect of progress and transformation across multiple industries. Looking ahead, we can only wonder what other innovations will emerge and change the rules of the game.