First Impressions from Valencia

I have taken a consulting position with Desafio 2007, the Spanish America’s Cup team, through March 30. I arrived a week ago and have to say that walking into a program like this, when it is up and running on all cylinders, is quite impressive. In all my past America’s Cup involvements, I have been there from day one and helped build the team and program. When you are on the inside of one of these programs since inception, you are unaware of the complexity and level of detail to which every task is carried. It is just the norm. Walking in cold from the outside is definitely a different perspective and one probably worth being registered as the number of days left to prepare becomes very few.

As the days are limited, it is time to focus on what will make the difference in the races. The Louis Vuitton Cup will be fast and furious. There are 11 challengers who will race two round robins in one month. After that, seven teams are eliminated. That is a harsh reality. Hopefully my experience can be of use in helping decide what is worth spending these valuable last man days on and what is not.

Desafio has been in operation for about two years. They bought the assets of OneWorld from the 2003 Cup and this was a smart decision as it gave them a great platform to start the program on – two very good boats, all the workshops, tenders, etc. They were sailing immediately after pushing the “GO” button.

The team composition is multinational. This is the case with most teams as they strive to acquire the best talent regardless of nationality. But it is a factor that has to be managed. Integration of different cultures and languages is something that requires cultivation just like cultivating boat speed. I think this has been one of the biggest challenges for Desafio and it is something that gets better every day. Ultimately, what every team needs is good communication in order to operate effectively, but also a good amount of solidarity in order to keep the team together in the tough times. With the competition as tough as it is this time, no team will be immune from bad days. One of the factors of this Cup will be which teams can come back from a “bad day” and put their “A” game on the next day, without any lingering hangover from the days before. Again, this is an area that I can hopefully contribute to in my time here.

My first impressions about the boats are how slow they are. It isn’t really a fair appraisal I suppose as I just finished sailing 35,000 miles on a boat that goes 35 knots on a regular basis. It is a different game sailing these boats. It is quite a chess match to position your big heavy beast between the destination and the other boat. Once you occupy a certain space on the race course, it is very hard for the other boat to get around you. The boats are very narrow, longer than in 2000 and it seems they have the displacement pushed out more to the ends. This makes for a boat that wants to go straight. Turning sharply creates so much turbulence that it can park the 24 ton boat very quickly. The boats have very short cord rudders, which are very balanced and give little “feel”.

The sails have continued to evolve. The mainsails have a “gaff” batten at the top, which give the sail a big flat top and nearly parallel leech and luff. The genoas have battens that increase their horsepower tremendously. These facts, coupled with 1 ton less displacement, give the boats greater acceleration over the boats in 2000.

Even though there have been some changes to the boat, these are relatively small and my feeling is that the design space has been narrowed quite a bit, especially when it comes to the hulls. I think sails are still an area open for improvement and we may see differences there.

In the end, I think most races will be decided by the team that sails best on the day. The start, controlling the correct side of the course and executing maneuvers perfectly under pressure, are what will make the difference between a “W” and an “L”. And that is the way it should be.

Our daily schedule with Desafio works in one of two ways. Normal day: Gym at 0800 and dock out at 1130 or “Bandera Roja” which means dock out at 0930 and gym after sailing. The “Bandera Roja” days are used when there is wind in the early morning that will fade as the day goes on. The gym is in the base and we shower and eat breakfast there too. Very efficient!

A general impression is how professional all the campaigns have become. The physical structure of the America’s Cup Port and all the bases is impressive. A lot of money has been spent here. What will happen to all of this if the Cup leaves? Probably the only team that’s committed to keep the Cup in Valencia should they win is Desafio 2007.

I had dinner with my old friend Francesco de Angelis Friday night. He has been working on the America’s Cup, with Prada and now his own team called “Luna Rosa”, for 10 years straight. That is a big chunk of life. In the America’s Cup life is fully consumed; you barely come up for air during the three or four years dedicated to a challenge.

I have to say that I am happy for the other experiences I have had during the last ten years….two times around the world, one America’s Cup, one Olympics and time to spend with two great children who are finishing high school and heading off to university. The clock keeps ticking. Each of us has to think about the big picture.

Paul Cayard

Official Presentation of Paul Cayard to the Media

Valencia, 15th February 2007

Today Agustin Zulueta, Technical-Sports Manager of Desafio Español 2007, presented Paul Cayard to the media. Paul Cayard, one of the world’s most accomplished sailors, is supervising the preparation and fine tuning of the new boat ESP-97 in the weeks leading up to the Louis Vuitton Cup that begins in April.

During today’s press conference Zulueta said that he contacted Cayard as soon as he finished the Volvo Ocean Race. “We got in touch with Cayard on the suggestion of our President, Ignacio Sanchez Gallant. He said to go for the best and Cayard is one of the people with the best experience in the America’s Cup.”

When asked about his first impressions since joining the Spanish Challenge on Monday as Technical-Sport Advisor Cayard replied that the Spanish team is very professional. Cayard added, “The team has done a good job preparing over the last two years and is competitive.”

Cayard also said that the purchase of the three boats and equipment from One World Challenge was a really good move, as it gave the team a head start.

Having participated in five editions of the America’s Cup over the last 25 years, Cayard brings a wealth of experience to Desafio Español 2007. He is looking forward to contributing his expertise to the team in his role as Technical-Sports Advisor.

Regarding the team’s performance to date Cayard stated, “I did not see the team race in the recent Acts. However, I know the designers John Reichel and Jim Pugh and it appears that the shore team is doing a good job. I think the team has a strong chance to reach the semi-finals.”

“Everyone in the America’s Cup wants to win and this time around there are several teams – all of which are more or less strong. There are the big teams like BMW Oracle, Alinghi, Luna Rossa and Team New Zealand. However, Victory Challenge, Desafio Español 2007 and Areva all have excellent potential. The possibility exists that any one of these teams could surprise us all and beat out the others.”

As for the differences in the competition since the last time he participated in the Cup, Cayard thinks that the level of every team has risen and that the same can be said for the improvements in the racing, sponsorship and bases. With regards to the boats, Cayard commented that they are longer, narrower and more responsive. He added, “It’s amazing to see how the boats go upwind. They are different from the boats I am used to, particularly the Volvo Open 70.”

Cayard Joins Desafio Espanol in Valencia

12 February 2007 – Paul Cayard joined Desafio Español 2007 today as technical and sports advisor. Cayard will supervise the preparation and fine tuning of the new boat ESP-97 in the weeks leading up to the Louis Vuitton Cup.

When asked about his first impressions of the team, Cayard commented, “Desafio has done a good job with only two years of preparation and has a good chance to be in the Louis Vuitton semifinals. It’s a good team and I think I can contribute with my America’s Cup experience.”

“I am hopeful that I can add something to the development of the team and the tuning of the boats. I have a lot of respect for the design team and I am optimistic that ESP-97 will be a very fast boat.”

With regards to joining the Spanish Challenge Cayard explained, “It’s been a pleasure for me to become part of this team. I am looking forward to seeing how the competition has changed since the last time I took part. It’s really interesting to see how the technology has advanced in the last five years.”

Cayard is one of the most well known sailors in the world with vast experience having participated in the five previous America’s Cup regattas, as well as in the Olympics. Cayard was also Skipper of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” entry in the last edition of the Volvo Ocean Race, as well as Skipper of “Il Moro di Venezia” and “America One”.

There will be a press conference with Paul Cayard on 15 February at the Desafio Español base.

New Event to Feature Fleet Racing in 70-foot Cats

Russell Coutts and Paul Cayard, and sports promoter João Lagos, have joined forces to create a professional fleet -racing circuit in one-design 70-foot catamarans.

Feb 8, 2007

By Stuart Streuli

However, the rumor had gotten stale of late. Had this idea ended up on the scrapheap like so many others before it?

Today, in Lisbon, Portugal, Coutts, Cayard, and Portuguese sports promoter João Lagos announced the creation of the World Sailing League, a traveling circuit of fleet races sailed in one-design 70-foot catamarans with a $2 million prize going to the series champion. Related Resources

As they promised, this league more than just a vision. Lagos, a former Davis Cup tennis player for Portugal, and his company Lagos Sports will provide both expertise in event management and the necessary funding to build a fleet of 14 catamarans – 12 teams are scheduled to compete. With the boats built, getting sponsors for the league, venues, and individual teams – Coutts and Cayard will each enter one – should be significantly easier, though there are obviously plenty of hurdles and crucial decisions left before the first start in 2009.

The prototype, designed by French multihull gurus Mark van Peteghem and Vincent Lauriot Prévost, will be launched later this year to allow enough time for testing and refinement. The fleet will be built in 2008 with the circuit kicking the following year.

Prior to the official announcement, we spoke with Cayard about this new venture.

OK, time for a little sales pitch. We know it’s fleet racing in 70-foot catamarans. Can you add a little more color to this picture?

I think what excites me about it is big, exciting, high-tech boats – probably the highest tech sailing machines that exist in the world – fleet racing close to shore, close to the public; and having a circuit that goes around the world, eight or 10 different venues, annually repeating those venues and getting a constituency that follows that circuit.

The rumors of this joint venture have been floating around for over two years. Has this been a steady development process or full of stops and starts?

It’s probably been a little bit of stop and go to be very honest and that’s really why were making the announcement, finally it’s a real go. That’s really because the concept that Russell and I have been working on has met with a commercial partner, which is Lagos Sports, who has the knowledge and experience in promoting sporting events as well as the resource to put behind the project. So it’s really exciting for Russ and I to have the confidence to go public. A lot of people were giving us a hard time for being a little coy about the whole thing, but that’s just who we are, we didn’t want to say anything official or public until we really knew we had the ability to go forward with it.

How did you decide on a 70 -foot catamaran?

We wanted something that was fast, for sure. We want to have exciting sailing, Russ and I are looking to have some fun and exciting sailing, but we think [using a catamaran is] important as far as growing the sport and as far as an event that will be attractive to young sailors coming up, sailors coming out of the Olympic Games like Robert Scheidt or the Tornado sailors. And we wanted it to be big and we wanted it to be able to sail close to shore. So we went through the evolutions of monohull, then monohull canting keel, and there were limitations with each of those designs and really there were some costs with some of those concepts.What we have with a catamaran is a very light, fast, powerful boat that can sail very close to shore, doesn’t have the depth problems that a canting keel has. The more I think about a catamaran, it’s a little bit non-traditional for those of us who have been sailing for 40 years, but my guess is it’s where the worlds is going in sailing, a little bit like snowboarding has in some way taken over from skiing.

How do you get the exciting boat-on-boat action that is so common with monohulls, but less common with cats where tacking or jibing is so expensive in terms of boatspeed and boatlengths?

Well, another feature is we want to have the races pretty short, targeting 30 to 40 minutes, at the most, for a race. So on a given day’s sailing, you’ll have three or four heats. I think it’s great, if the crew screws up on this thing, it’s going to cost them the race. There are big speed deltas between a boat that is tacking or jibing or one that’s going straight. I think that will lead to some excitement coming down to the finish, if one boat has to make a jibe and the other is shooting straight in, it will be quite exciting. We like all the features of the cat.

How many crew do you anticipate for this boat?

We’re thinking eight. It’s quite possible that you won’t ever put up or drop a sail because the spinnaker is going to be more like a Code 0 – the boat’s go so fast that the apparent wind is forward – they just roll those things up when they get to the leeward mark. We think eight people. It’s all part of the equation, to try to have this great racing at what we think is a reasonable cost. Cost control is an element of our concept, so the one-design boat works with that and the fewer crew works with that.

Why make the leap from event participant to event organizer?

Well, Russell and I are the first two guys signed up to skipper boats in this new league. We’re going to have our own teams; it’s a lot of fun, like last year with the Pirates. To be honest, having a team and being a team leader is as much fun as the sailing. So we’re going to have our teams and this racing is going to be exciting. Some sailing I’ve done is exciting because of the competition, but not exciting in and of itself. We’re still going to be competitors and we’re looking forward to that.

If this event succeeds the way you hope, with 12 teams racing, with numerous stops each year, can it do so without negatively impacting the America’s Cup or the Volvo Ocean Race?

We have our concept and our vision and I think we see the whole sporting landscape as our competitor. We see ourselves as actually quite different to events that exist. We’re not trying to copy anybody or take anybody’s place. This is going to be the world championship or grand prix circuit for large-boat fleet racing; that’s something that doesn’t exist right now. Those other two events you mentioned, one of them is an ocean-racing event, and one of them is a match-racing event. I don’t particularly see us as displacing anything.

What sort of commitments from corporate sponsorship world to get this thing off the ground?

That is really what we’re announcing, that it is off the ground. One of the big hurdles in this project, as you can imagine, was to get the boats underwritten. They’re the critical path in the timeline, it’s really a two- or two and a half-year project to design, build the prototype, test the prototype, and get the fleet built. It’s a huge time element. Sponsors of teams, maybe they put the money up a year ahead, but not three years ahead. Having Lagos Sports involved, and their expertise with the commercial side, but also having their support to underwrite the fleet of boats is critical and that’s what we announcing tomorrow. As the project goes forward the teams will have their sponsors and the league will have its sponsors, and the venues will have their sponsors. Those are business arrangements that will be made as we move forward. Those are more typical. But the news really is that the project is off and running because of the partnership between Coutts, Cayard, and Lagos Sports.

In the press release you mention trying other forms of racing outside of fleet racing, time trials and slalom racing among others. What sort of tricks do you have up your sleeve for this circuit?

It is going to be a fleet-racing circuit. There are probably some rumors out there but I’m not going to get into it in this call; but we are looking at some other formats that could be both exciting for the sailors as well as for the public. One of the fundamental ideas of the concept is to bring sailing to the public. That is where the fleet racing, and the shorter courses, and the really exciting boats, and the national flags, all those are elements that you don’t have to be a sailing expert to get interested in.

For more on the circuit, www.wsl2009.com

Cayard, Coutts and Lagos announce World Sailing League

New global series underwritten, first event in 2009

Sailing legends Russell Coutts and Paul Cayard have teamed up with internationally renowned Portuguese sports promoter, João Lagos, to create a new annual global sports series. The World Sailing League (WSL) will be held at premier sailing locations around the world with the series winner receiving a cheque for $2 million.

Twelve teams, representing nations, will compete in identical, state-of-the-art 70ft catamarans. It is anticipated that there will be venues in the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, the Middle East, Asia, North America and South America. Cayard and Coutts are both committed to skipper teams in the league.

João Lagos, whose company, Lagos Sports, runs prestigious international golf, cycling, tennis and motor racing events, commented: “I immediately recognised the potential of the World Sailing League and am excited about the opportunity to raise the profile of sailing here in Portugal through this international sporting event”. There is also the possibility of a Portuguese venue and team, but this is yet to be confirmed.

“From the results of our detailed due diligence and conversations with potential venues, skippers and sponsors, I can confirm that the level of support for this new and innovative concept has been remarkable and we are delighted to be involved.”

Russell Coutts outlined why João Lagos is the ideal partner for WSL: “We have been planning this for a long time and were looking for an organisation that would share our vision for the World Sailing League. In João Lagos we have an entrepreneurial figure with the foresight to see the potential of these events, coupled the expertise and credibility to bring the concept to life. Our partnership with Lagos Sports, a leading event promoter allows us to make this announcement today.”

Cayard added, “Russell, João Lagos and I are pooling our experiences from the America’s Cup, the Olympic Games and a multitude of other sporting competitions. We have taken the best ideas from sports events all over the world – and added innovative concepts – to generate an exciting new series that will maximise the appeal to sailors, sponsors and spectators. For a venture like this, it was also important that ISAF support the concept and they have confirmed they are fully behind us.”

The World Sailing League will use a fleet racing format although a number of other innovative concepts such as time trials and slalom racing will be tested using the prototype yacht. It will also have a customised support ship to transport the boats and equipment to each venue. The ship will be akin to a transportable pit lane, with all the technology required to maintain the 70′ catamarans.

The design of the boats will be finalised by early summer of this year with the first prototype being launched in the latter half of 2007 to allow sufficient testing and refinement. The 14 one-design yachts will start being built in 2008, ready for the launch of the series during 2009.

The new boats have been designed by a team including Marc Van Peteghem and Lauriot Prévost and are at the forefront of technology. The 70ft catamarans will combine speed, maneuverability and the ability to sail close to shore for optimum spectator viewing.

There will be a further media announcement towards the end of this year at which further information and details of venues, teams, sponsors and the boats will be revealed.

My long adventure in the America’s Cup

Back in the Arena

February 2007 – In an exclusive interview with Yacht Capital, Cayard talks about his return to the America’s Cup this month as technical advisor to Desafio Espanol, bringing along his experience from the Volvo Ocean Race 2005-2006. Cayard also shares his views on the 32nd edition of the Cup and the future of the sport.

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