Chris Mitchell has Bachelor and Master of Engineering Degrees (Mechanical) from the University of Auckland (New Zealand), and wrote a thesis titled ‘The Computer Aided Analysis of Yacht Rigs’. Chris has had a paper published by the Royal Instituition of Naval Architects W8 (1993). Titled: Rigging Loads on the Yacht ‘New Zealand’ and Rig Design Formulae. Chris is a member of the Royal Institution of Naval Architects and a member of Engineering NZ, formerly called IPENZ, the Institution of Professional Engineers of New Zealand.
AES (formerly called Advanced Engineering Services) started by Chris Mitchell in 1984 operating as a sole trader. In 1986 Chris designed and was in charge of building the (alloy) twelve metre masts for KZ3, KZ5 and KZ7 in Fremantle. Whilst Chris was concluding studies at the University of Auckland, the NZ Challenge had mast problems and this in turn lead to a job for Chris appointed by Michael Fay. The NZ Challenge built masts in Fremantle using kitsets designed in Annapolis by Chris under direction from BFA. The etched, tapered masts were built at Proctors in the UK and shipped down to Fremantle. The masts were then assembled and finished off using NZ mast builders and Barry Wraight from Proctors. The work was very successful and eventually lead to a position back at the University of Auckland at the Yacht Research Unit which was funded by Michael Fay. Part way into this work the KZ1 big boat project turned up and Chris became involved with this along with several other well-known designers.
In 1988 he headed a team of engineers which designed the rig for KZ1 (used in the 1988 America’s Cup). The yacht KZ1 was designed by BFA, but the rig was designed in Auckland and approved by BFA. The rig design team consisted of Tom Schnackenberg, Richard Karn, Rudy Struyck, John Clinton, Peter Jackson, Richard Honey; Chris was chairman. Roger Hill was draughtsman. All the construction was undertaken by Marten Marine who were also the builders of the yacht itself.
Typical projects AES worked on at that time were an 80 foot Italian masthead sloop Wallygator 1989, Concorde yachts 40 metre sloops in Thailand, 2nd placed Melbourne-Osaka 1991 race yacht Lucky & Luppy in Japan.
From 1989 – 1992 C Mitchell was Rig co-ordinator for Il Moro di Venezia in the 1992 America’s Cup; designing all Il Moro rigs and in charge of rig maintenance, developments and modifications. So for 3 years Chris put everything into the Italian team’s effort and this team did a great job to wind the LV Cup and become the Challenger. Since then AES has maintained a number of Italian contacts and clients for repeat business. For the Italian masts the builders were Sparcraft, ACX and Omohundro Company. During 1992 the business was incorporated and renamed APPLIED Engineering Services Limited. On returning to NZ in 1992 the business designed rigs for the 105 foot ketch Wallygator, a Swan 68, Swan 651, Frers 77, BFA ML39, Holland A&R 118′ ketch.
Alloy Yachts International of Henderson Auckland built a series of super yachts over 100 feet long, AES has provided full mast specifications and rig layout drawings for Imagine, Corinthian, Sovereign, Atlanta, Hoek 104. Rig designs have been supplied for ILC30 racing yachts, Frers 60, Warwick 70 Maya.
For 1995 a new opportunity opened up in mast design with Team NZ AES became a design team member in Team New Zealand working on rig design; laminate testing, material supplier selection, mast inertia, mast moulds, carbon mast laminate, spreaders, spreader inertia/laminates, moulds and rigging specifications are examples of the work performed by AES.. Team NZ won the America’s Cup in 1995 and so at last we had a win after KZ7 the big boat and Il Moro.
2000 was a major milestone for AES, in that project numbers have now exceeded 1000 rigs. We won the Cup again with Team NZ! We were very proud of our involvement with the 2000 America’s Cup Defence where we again assisted Team NZ. Rigs for the 2000 cup have been a major area of development and Team NZ has been at the forefront of this now for two Cups in a row. The next Cup chapters 2003, 2007 weren't so successful. The masts, booms and poles consolidated the innovations of the previous Cups becoming considerably more reliable and proving that the innovations were on the right track.
2010 Minor work on the Oracle Tri, a long tour of duty with Artemis Racing on the 72 catamaran in Spain and then San Francisco and supply of hydraulic cylinders to Artemis in Bermuda followed.
By this time AES had output over 2000 rig designs.
2020 Leaving the AC behind AES started to work for SailGP on a number of projects, most notably a new wing design 2019 and 2021 became Chris became SailGP design co-ordinator and Andrei design engineer and drawing office manager for the design team.