September 18, 2010
Russell Coutts is such an innovative bloke, you knew his plans for the next America’s Cup were going to be different – and he didn’t disappoint.
There is a lot to get our heads around, but obviously the most drastic, and most controversial, change is the move to multihulls.
The AC72 class – a super high tech wing-masted catamaran – represents a new era of America’s Cup sailing. At this stage, I guess I’m a little cautious about the move, but also hugely optimistic.
For a Team New Zealand supporter the initial reaction may have been “bugger, we’ve been gazzumped”.
Emirates Team NZ were probably a bit disappointed with the announcement, although they wouldn’t be surprised.
There’s no doubt they have dominated big-boats, whether it be the America’s Cup version 5s or TP52s, everything they’ve touched over the past couple of years, they’ve won.
But if they want to continue to play the game it’s going to have to be in multihulls, that’s the deal.
So all of Team NZ’s focus must now be on transferring their success in the monohulls to these high-tech catamarans, which I think are going to be pretty exciting. Read the rest of this entry »
February 14, 2010
It took just one race in the weather-delayed 33rd America’s Cup for BMW Oracle Racing to show that the radical wing sail on its monster trimaran is a game-changer.
So superior is Oracle’s yacht, it looks as if the Auld Mug will be safely back in American hands by this morning, barring a catastrophic gear failure or yet another weather delay in race two overnight.
What we witnessed in race one really was historic – a crushing 15m 28s victory to Oracle. The reason for such a convincing win is simple: their yacht is of another generation. Technical wizardry aboard this boat is unrivalled.
The speed, lift and horsepower generated from the wing created a huge performance gap that Alinghi have little hope of overturning.
Even Alinghi president Ernesto Bertarelli, at the helm for the Swiss in race one, seemed pretty resigned to the fact that the America’s Cup will soon be setting sail for the States.
So what will become of the event once the cup is in Larry Ellison’s clutches?
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February 12, 2010
Some historic pictures from the adversaries from 1988 Big Boat challenge, Fay and Johns vs Ehman was the guts of the court battle
Sir Michael Fay (’88 New Zealand Challenge owner), Tom Ehman (BMW Oracle), Andrew Johns (’88 NZ Challenge lawyer), Russell Coutts (BMW Oracle CEO) , Mike Drummond (BMW Oracle head of design), myself (’88 tactician).
Thanks to Gilles Martin-Raget for the shots.
February 12, 2010
The 33rd America’s Cup has so far been a story of frustration and disappointment.
The first two attempts to begin the best-of-three showdown between Alinghi and BMW Oracle have been canned because the conditions were deemed to be unsuitable for racing. This false start has brought some dark questions about who is really controlling the proceedings in Valencia.
The race committee’s decision to call off racing on the first day was understandable – there was simply no wind. Yesterday however, they had a golden opportunity to race, but they did not take it and everybody is shaking their heads. The conditions yesterday appeared pretty reasonable – it was a beautiful clear day, and the breeze was a healthy 18 knots. It would have been a tough race, but it would have been full of action.
But the race committee, headed by New Zealand’s Harold Bennett, canned the proceedings as the 1m swells were considered too extreme. It has to be said these “extreme” conditions are easily managed by club sailors around New Zealand.
It is getting to be quite farcical when these two multimillion-dollar machines, with all their technical wizardry, can’t go out and race in conditions that approximate the real world of sailing.
From where I’m sitting they are meant to be able to race these things, it’s meant to be an ocean course and for them to not have raced just doesn’t seem right to me. The boats not being strong enough is not an excuse – if they haven’t built boats that are sturdy enough to cope with conditions, then tough.
As we’ve seen time after time, the defender controls the game. It is becoming very clear that Alinghi are leaning on the race committee to ensure that they don’t race in conditions unsuitable for their yacht.
While yesterday’s postponement means the boats will stay in one piece, the same can’t be said for the public image of the America’s Cup. With every postponed race the sport is losing further credibility in the eyes of the public.
There is a real sense of disappointment and frustration among the punters gathered here, and no doubt the people watching on the television and internet at home.
February 6, 2010
… we are going to see some racing in the America’s Cup.
With a couple of court cases still pending next week’s one on one showdown between Alinghi and BMW Oracle may not bring an end to the whole sorry saga, but make no mistake – this is progress. For the challengers like Team New Zealand it finally gives them some sort of certainty – they know there’s going to be a race and they can now see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Of course if Alinghi wins BMW Oracle will have them back in court, and probably the other way around as well. But even that aside, it’s no longer years away, it’s now months away that the likes of Grant Dalton will have something to aim at, and I think that’s important.
The bitter legal wrangles between Alinghi and BMW Oracle over the past few years has been undoubtedly the bleakest period in the long history of the America’s Cup. And for those that are passionate about the sport it’s absolutely gutting that there hasn’t been an opportunity for the challengers. But history also tells us there just may be a positive to all of this.
If we look back to the 1988 Big Boat Challenge, which like this current situation, was an absolute mess, but from that transpired the International America’s Cup Class (IACC) rule. That came about after all the syndicates and designers of that time got together once the dust had settled and developed some parameters and rules that will serve the America’s Cup well. That lasted very well for the class right through to 2007 and had 20 years of perhaps the best America’s Cup yachting there had ever been with an open challenger series.
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February 5, 2010
With the big face-off only days away, we thought it would be useful to give you a list of our favourite sites to follow.