Wheels in motion for South Australian wind tunnel development

The Australian Government together with the Marshall Government of South Australia is cementing Adelaide’s position as an international cycling capital, awarding the multi-million dollar contract for the wind tunnel build adjacent to the Adelaide Super-Drome.

Following a rigorous tender process, world-renowned aerodynamics company AEROLAB will design and deliver a bespoke wind tunnel which will be the centrepiece of an $8 million National Centre of Sports Aerodynamics for high performance cyclists and other elite athletes.

The South Australian Government has collaborated with the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) on the project to boost the training capabilities of the Australian Cycling Team and South Australian Sports Institute (SASI) cycling programs.

Federal Minister for Youth and Sport, Richard Colbeck, said an Australian Government injection of $1.7 million would help make the project a reality.

"It will be a game-changer for Australia's champion cyclists aiming to make their mark in Olympic and Paralympic track cycling competition," Minister Colbeck said.

"Not only will this facility help position our athletes ahead of the pack, it will help cement Adelaide's reputation as a hub for elite training."

South Australian Minister for Recreation, Sport and Racing, Corey Wingard, said the Marshall Government’s commitment of $6.3 million for the National Centre of Sports Aerodynamics will ensure Australia’s athletes and facilities are recognised on the global stage.

“With its advanced aerodynamics, sports technology and engineering, this wind tunnel will play an important role in the 2024 Paris Olympic preparation, enhancing the performance of our Olympic and Paralympic athletes,” Minister Wingard said.

“This development is part of the Marshall Government’s commitment to optimising the performance of our elite athletes by providing the highest quality daily training environments, using leading edge technologies.

“We also expect the Centre will attract widespread use by visiting international tour teams, setting the scene for the exciting return of the Tour Down Under, when the annual event resumes in SA.”

The successful tenderer, AEROLAB is one of the most experienced and prolific wind tunnel designers and builders in the world, constructing and redeveloping wind tunnels for sports, industry, academia and the military since 1947.

Senior Aerospace Engineer at AEROLAB, Havya Patel said he was delighted that AEROLAB could utilise their expertise and passion for high fidelity aerodynamics science in such a unique situation.

“We are honoured to work together with the South Australian Government on a project of such national importance,” Mr Patel said.

“Our experience and capabilities are well suited for the development of a premiere aerodynamics sports facility and we look forward to commissioning a world class asset.”

The wind tunnel will be designed, fabricated and tested at AEROLAB’s headquarters in Maryland, USA before being shipped and installed within a new building that will be separately designed and constructed locally, under the lead of Hames Sharley.

The AIS will contribute $1.7 million to the wind tunnel project, further enhancing the commitment and support of the Australian Cycling Team’s program based in Adelaide.

AIS Deputy Director of Applied Technology Ian Burns said the goal for the National Centre for Sports Aerodynamics is that it will be utilised across a wide range of summer and winter sports; from cycling and canoeing, to skiing, snowboarding and luge.

“Aerodynamic drag is a key limiting factor in so many Olympic and Paralympic sports and influences equipment design, fabric/textile usage, as well as posture and positioning of athletes,” Mr Burns said.

South Australian Sports Institute Director Wes Battams said having access to the wind tunnel will give Australian athletes a real competitive edge through provision of much greater access to these services.

“The National Centre for Sports Aerodynamics will not only impact sport performance directly but we anticipate it will be a key catalyst for collaboration and innovation in the areas of sport technology and sport engineering,” he said.

Following design, construction works on the wind tunnel are expected to commence in mid-2021 with completion expected in early 2022.

The addition of the National Centre for Sports Aerodynamics is part of a generational renewal of the Adelaide Super-Drome, opened in 1993 in the State Sports Park at Gepps Cross.

The Marshall Government has also committed a further $3.5 million for the Adelaide Super-Drome upgrades which includes new precision timing systems and video board, and track-side fence to meet international requirements for events, while the AIS has additionally contributed $600,000 towards new heating and lighting.