Change of tack…

My last article seems to have created quite a stir, even prompting an online poll showing a big split in opinion over the nationality requirement for the pending America’s Cup match between BMW Oracle and Alinghi. There was even at least one email lobbying people in how to vote! As I struggled to find something to write about this month I thought I would at least include some photos that I am pretty sure will get unanimous approval. Doesn’t matter if you are Swiss or American, you will like the graphics of my new boat. However, I can’t take credit for all of it, just the bikini top, as the original artwork came with the boat.

With the America’s Cup in a constant state of waiting for court orders and speculation about when it will happen, where it will happen and so on, like many others I am growing tired of that subject. But there is plenty of other great racing going on around the world right now.

The Farr 40 Worlds was a fantastic event with 33 boats from 10 countries. The TP52 season has just kicked off and I am racing with the new boat El Desafío Español, built in the team’s AC shed in Valencia with their crew and shore team doing the construction… I am very impressed with what they did in four months! And the RC 44 fleet is growing and becoming impressive as well. So there is a lot of good sailing going on but instead of talking about that this month, I ended up writing an introspective piece that I hope hits a note with someone.

The other night I was lying in bed in a Spanish hotel room, jetlagged and awake at 0400, and I started thinking about what I am doing (don’t do this, it is definitely a bad idea). I started thinking about the fact that I will be 50 next year, that I have been doing this pro sailing thing since 1983. I started wondering if I should be doing something else. As I was thinking to myself, ‘I have spent the last five years doing…’ I focused on the word ‘spent’. We often use this phrase in lieu of ‘I passed’: ‘I passed the weekend doing such and such’.

As I focused on the words ‘spent’ and ‘spend’, it really hit me. Someone got it right when they coined the phrase… you are spending your time and your life. Years are like cards and you only have so many of them. Figure you have 90 ‘year cards’ if you are lucky. As I am almost 50, I have 40 more to spend… if I am lucky. Then that’s it, you can’t ask for more, you can?t buy more, you simply run out.

All this thinking made me very happy with my decision to buy a boat and race with my kids to Hawaii this summer. I am going to spend a few months of time for a lifetime of memories and for enhancing the most important relationships of my life. In fact, I will lose some income during this period, missing two TP52 regattas with Desafío. Further, the project will cost me a few hundred thousand dollars.

I usually spend my time trying to make money. Now I am spending my time on something much more important and valuable to me: my kids. At the end of the road, when I am 90 and about to check out, what will be stuck in my mind? My trip to Hawaii with my kids, or one more race with a bunch of pros. And what will be stuck in my kids’ minds? A little more inheritance or the race to Hawaii with their father? That is how I want to spend my cards.

So the Hula Girl project for the 2008 Pacific Cup is now well underway. I have a few friends helping me make some improvements to the Santa Cruz 50, which was designed by Bill Lee and built in 1980. At 28 years, she is a little old for a boat, but she is still very cool. And as is the trend in today?s world, she has had some work done to perk her up…

Compared to how she was born, she has a 2ft deeper T-keel, 2ft more of pole, a carbon mast and boom and a 2ft hull extension. And we are putting her on a diet right now: stove off, refrigeration off, Spectra watermaker on, freeze-dried on, wood table off, laminate table on, quarter berths out, pipe berths in. And now she has gennakers rather than spinnakers.

My crew (18-22 years old) all sail 49ers and the like. They know what it is like to get up and plane and sheet on when the apparent wind goes forward. When they catch a wave, they are not going to want to bear away to keep the kite from collapsing, so we are putting on a Harken pedestal as top-handling the winches would get old and could be hard on us ‘senior’ guys.

We had our first crew practice at the end of April. We checked all the sails and gear that came with the boat. We reefed, peeled the kite, we hit 14kt in the bay reaching across the top of Alcatraz in 20kt of wind. In the evening I had all the kids over for a barbecue and we opened the liferaft in my pool. They got in it, checked out what gear is there, flipped it over and righted it. We will be training again soon with some night sailing, then again in July when we will sail the first 200 miles of the course and back to get a feel for the sails to be used, the watch system, cooking the freeze-dried, running the watermaker, and so on…

Then on 18 July we will slip out of the Golden Gate with an ebb tide and head to some islands 2,070 miles to the southwest. We understand that when we get there the natives may have some refreshments for us… pronounced MaiTai.

Careful what you wish for

America’s Cup
Here is my latest theory… Ernesto will fight Larry tooth and nail with lawyers. He knows how to do that. His goal will be to get the BMW Oracle challenge dismissed in court by any means and for any reason possible and then host a multi-challenger event in 2011. He will not build a multihull in Switzerland with all Swiss parts. It would not be easy and would take years for them to make winches, 3DL sails, titanium bolts and so on. Remember that this is a Deed of Gift challenge… another hurdle for the Swiss…”a yacht or vessel propelled by sails only and constructed in the country to which the Challenging Club belongs”. I think that means all of the boat.

There will no doubt be a lawsuit about what that means too. Meanwhile, Ellison is full steam ahead building his 90ft catamaran right now and is probably ahead of where Bertarelli could be anyway even if he did have the materials that are available to Ellison in the USA.

So what does Ernesto do if he doesn’t win in court?

My theory… If Ernesto loses in court and must defend the Deed of Gift challenge, he does nothing. Ellison and Coutts and their army of sailors, designers, shore team, boatbuilders and so on go through the whole rigmarole of getting the boat designed, built, tested, ready and to the race area, then complete two races by themselves. Ernesto hands over the trophy and says, “Congratulations, Larry, you finally won the America’s Cup.”

Where does that leave Ellison? Holding a turd, that’s where. A very expensive one at that. What kind of commercial credibility does the AC have after the media get done with that one? Corporate sponsors??? How long will it take to get the America’s Cup back to where it was just eight short months ago?

Just a theory.

TP52
By the time this article comes out we will be on the eve of another TP52 MedCup season. The fleet will be even larger than last year and, with the Cup on hold, there will be more AC sailors involved than ever. I will sail with Desafío Español on their new Vrolijk 52 for five of the races this summer.

Desafío are keeping their AC team together and active by sailing in the Med with the TP52 and the GP42. We will be training out of our AC base in Valencia for two weeks at the end of April and beginning of May. The new Quantum Racing will also be there, as will a few other teams undoubtedly. It will bring a bit of life to the dormant Cup Harbour. I am looking forward to racing these great boats again this summer.

Farr 40 worlds
The Farr 40 worlds may be over, or at least be ongoing, when this magazine hits your desk. We have just completed the Acura Miami Grand Prix, the second ‘tune-up regatta’ for the World Championship in April.

No fewer than 10 nations will be represented at the worlds, making this a truly international event. I am sailing with Fred and Steve Howe on their Warpath. We have just made a nice step up in our programme with a new boat for the Miami Grand Prix.

Thanks to a great shore team and some excellent outside contractors, stepping into the new boat was mostly just a pleasure.

We made a few changes in the crew as well and the net result was a third-place finish for the Warpath team in Miami out of 28 boats. Barking Mad won the event with 62 points, current world champion Mascalzone Latino finished second with 66 and Warpath had 67 points. Behind us it was 20 points to fourth place and another 19 points to fifth.

The top three boats showed an ability to come back from bad starts to get top 10 results more often than the others and this is what made the difference in the end. We are going to be training for five days in April before the world championship proper.

I feel good about this team and our chances.

Pacific Cup
Now this is the important event of the year. I am living a life dream: to race with my kids to Hawaii. Now is the time!

The crew of eight will include my two children, Danny and Allie, 19 and 18 respectively, four other kids around 20 years old and myself and one other ‘older’ person. The purchase of Hula Girl is complete. I am going to sail the boat up to San Francisco with my kids during the Easter break. That will be the beginning of our training…

I have been thinking of how you get a crew of offshore novices up to the task, without a Morning Light type of programme. I am thinking we first do day-sailing on the Bay to get the basics sorted. Then we sail for 48 hours, through the nights, again in the Bay… around and around, that’s right.

We learn what it is to be on a watch system, when it is convenient to eat meals, what it is like to steer in the dark. All that in SF Bay (a very calm place!). Then we go out in the ocean in daylight. We reef in the ocean, we gybe in the swells, we try not to… scratch that. We wrap the spinnaker around the headstay and send someone up the rig with a machete to cut it down. Next we sail through the night to Monterey and back; then for 30 hours on the track to Hawaii… and back. Then we load the food and go!

That is the report for April. Out.

Change of tack

Well, I guess the worst-case scenario developed for the America’s Cup… it seems that Alinghi and BMW Oracle will have a race, probably not much of a match, in multihulls some time in the next 18 months. The rest of the teams and all the corporate sponsors and all the fans of sailing will wait on the sidelines while these two play their game… or maybe not. More on that later. Justice Cahn has yet to finally rule on when the grudge match will take place. Alinghi get to decide where.

Throughout the months of last autumn, as the legal battle lumbered down the road of due process, several attempts were made, mostly by BMW Oracle, to settle. Naturally BMW had demands and, yes, they got a bit steeper after the judge ruled that they were right in their initial claim against the validity of the Spanish Challenger of Record’s yacht club. But I would say that most of those close to the discussions were reasonably impressed that the ‘demands’ of BMW Oracle were not as outrageous as one might have expected given the ‘power’ they attained as events developed.

Yet the demands were too much for Alinghi. My feeling is that Alinghi were willing to put the ball in play on a short cycle, 24 months, if they had the deck stacked in their favour… Therefore the original Protocol of 5 July 2007, with the new class of boat and the defender racing in the challenger selection series and managing all aspects of the event, including deciding how the challengers would organise their own selection series.

As the critics mounted in the weeks that followed, the Swiss were willing to concede some of those points and they did. But not sufficiently for BMW Oracle and really not enough for anyone looking at the event objectively. Alinghi would not bend beyond a certain point and they bet all their marbles that Justice Herman Cahn of the New York Supreme Court would substantiate the validity of Club Nautico Espa&ntilkde;ol de Vela as Challenger of Record and that Alinghi could then proceed with the event they wanted and BMW Oracle would have to beg to be allowed to enter.

As the months went on through the summer and into autumn, Russell Coutts, CEO of BMW Oracle, sifted through the 2007 team, discarded some people, hired some new ones and built a strong group all the way around. He then put the technical team to work, first on a catamaran and then on the AC 90 rule once it was made public on 31 October.

By 27 November, when Judge Cahn issued his ruling in favour of BMW Oracle, BMW Oracle were ahead in a race for 2009, no matter what the type of boat. I think Alinghi realised this and reversed their strategy. They were no longer interested in racing a multichallenger event in AC 90s in 2009. They would rather go for the freak show of a ‘one on one’ multihull race… sort of a throw of the dice.

So that is where we are heading… watching and waiting for one of these billionaires to get his way and then create an event that the rest of the world can compete in… a world of people who really enjoyed AC 32 (this is to Alinghi’s credit), and who are interested in developing and continuing relationships with corporations who have supported the sport and put their reputations on the line in a very public way. I know a lot of the existing teams are doing some serious dancing and shuffling for 2008 in an attempt to preserve these corporate relationships.

Desafio Español, like many of the 2007 teams, has had to create a new schedule for 2008. Since there is no America’s Cup in the calendar and no class of boat to train in, the operations in Valencia have been stopped. Instead, the sailing team will be kept active by racing on both the GP42 and TP52 circuits this summer.

The GP42 Quebramar already won last year’s circuit with Laureano Wizner, Santi Lopez and the Desafio team onboard. This group will continue for 2008.

Meanwhile, a new Judel-Vrolijk TP52 is being built in the Desafio shed in Valencia and will launch in late April. John Cutler and I, and 13 others from the team, will sail that boat in the MedCup. Sandro Benini and Nihat Aydin will design sails for both boats.

Both will be painted with Desafio livery including our main sponsor Iberdrola. Other components of Desafio will handle logistics, rule advising, coaching, physical training and other types of support for the two crews. In this way they will stay active in very competitive racing, carry on building a working relationship, keep the sponsors happy and in the public’s eye… and quite simply keep the team alive.

What else? I have started to revive a dream I had about this time last year but did not fulfil… to race with my children to Hawaii. Last year it would have been the Transpac, which, in odd numbered years, starts in Los Angeles. In even numbered years there is the Pacific Cup that starts in my hometown of San Francisco.

My son Danny is 19 and daughter Alexandra will be 18 soon. We will take a few of their friends and at least one more ‘experienced’ (nice way of saying older) person to round out the crew. Sailing out under the Golden Gate Bridge with the next landfall being Hawaii… is there any better dream than that?

Now I just have to buy a boat.

Based upon the assumption that…

By the time this article comes out I am sure the decision of the New York State Supreme Court will be known. We will either be on the fast track for 2009 or the back burner while BMW Oracle and Alinghi negotiate a new Protocol for the 33rd America’s Cup. Or, worse yet, we may all sit on the sidelines and watch another catamaran race. Maybe you need one of those every 20 years!

In any case, this is a great example of what is wrong with the America’s Cup and why in its current structure… Deed of Gift, and so on… it is prone to problems in today’s world. All major sporting events need true independent management.

I have been in Valencia now for three weeks working with Desafío Español as the sports director (I love that title… it makes me feel like an athlete.) We have been operating under the presumption that the Cup will happen in 2009 and that it will take place in the new AC 90 class. This seems the only logical way to operate. If one tries to make a plan for all possible outcomes one goes nowhere.

In fact, Alinghi/ACM have maintained a very professional MO throughout all the uncertainty posed by the court case and issued the new AC90 rule on 31 October. This date was important as the Protocol says no race shall be run in the new class within 18 months of the issue of the class rule. The first race of AC 33 is scheduled for 2 May 2009.

What can be said about the new class is it will be bigger, faster and a lot of work. With an unlimited sail area for the spinnaker, a mast of 37m and a tack point 14m forward of the mast (on a bowsprit), you can be sure they will top out very close to 650m2 of sail area. Then add in the fact that the apparent wind will never go aft of 90 and you have some heavyweight cloth being used on these sails. Good luck getting them down and even more luck getting them repacked inside the boat!

The boat has a displacement of 23 tons, which is one ton less than the current ACC boats, but it will have a 6.5m draft rather than the current 4.1m, so there will be righting moment and there will be big loads!

This new boat will be relatively narrow but will carry its beam further aft as there is no more hull girth measurement. The current mainsails are about 220m2 and the new ones will be 375m2. So you don’t want to miss-time the start and have to do the big ease of the main with 10 seconds to go, so that you can bearaway down the line. The grinders (12 of them) won’t be at all happy with you.

Honestly, the new boat is the big attraction for me to get back into the Cup. I like development and I like speed. It looks like we will have plenty of both.

There is a document called the Competitor Regulations that contains the rules for both the Cup and the preceding Acts. And there are some new rules for the 33rd AC. Among them: no two-boat testing. So no team may have more than one AC 90 boat outside the harbour at any one time.

This means that ‘testing’ and ‘development’ will be done by racing against others. Seems simple enough, just like any other regatta: find a partner and organise a race or some training. Nope. ACM have to organise all training… So when you want to sail against someone else, you have to ring up and make an appointment and then find out who ACM assign you to train with.

Also, Alinghi will race in the Challenger Selection Series and will train with the challengers before hand. This is because, with no two-boat testing, Alinghi would be disadvantaged if, as Defender, they had no one to race against. This means Alinghi will be completely current with the challengers all the way through the Challenger Selection Series…

Of course these races don’t count for Alinghi as they are in the final anyway; so how do you know what you are getting when you race against them? Furthermore, if you lose to Alinghi, it is aloss. They will undoubtedly affect the outcome of the Challenger Selection Series. This is definitely something new…

The only other sailing team in residence here in Valencia is United Internet Team Germany. The Germans look to be on a goodpath. From Alinghi they acquired SUI 91,the first of the two new boats the Swiss built for 2007, and Jochen Schumann, sport director of Alinghi. They have chosen good crew from all teams and look to have a lean but competent design team with Jason Ker who designed Shosholoza for the last Cup. And now they have enough budget to be fully competitive in the marketplace for personnel. We are scheduling racing with them once a week or so from now on using the existing ACC boats.

We’ve also bought two Swedish Match 40s for match race training. The 40s were designed by my father-in-law, Pelle Petterson, a few years ago for the specific purpose of match racing. A number of events on the World Match Racing Tour now use the boats as well as a number of AC teams who bought them in the last cycle for live practice. BMW Oracle relaunched the two SM40s they own here in Valencia last week and they are regularly out sparring. They also have two of these boats in San Francisco where Larry Ellison trains on the wheel.

One new thing here in Valencia is that BMW Oracle Racing now have the US flag flying over their base. The US flag was noticeably absent from the base and the boat during the last campaign and I felt for Jane Eagleson, BMW Oracle PR director, dodging and deflecting questions about the missing flag.

Desafío Español will train here in Valencia through to mid-December, then we are off until early February at least. The base will get a bit of work done to improve it, based on what was learned last time and also what is necessary to accommodate the new AC 90 yachts. Our team will get a nice long Christmas break as the vacation at the end of 2008 will no doubt be very short…

Some good… some not so good

In August I rejoined the TP52 MedCup Circuit for two events. I say rejoined because I sailed both the 2005 and 2006 seasons in the fleet with George Andreadis and his Atalanti team.

This is the class that has enjoyed the most growth in the past three years. I think that’s because of the perfect balance between fun in fast, fairly evenly matched boats, and costs, which are not minimal but are obviously manageable for 25 teams. After spending most of the spring commentating on TV for the America’s Cup, I was anxious to see if I could remember how to sail myself.

My first regatta in 2007 was Copa del Rey in Palma where I joined Alberto Roemmers and his Matador-Siemens team. The skipper of the boat is Guillermo Parada and he has put together a great team. The boat is one of five new Vrolijk designs for 2007 and Siemens have joined as the sponsor. Everything was well organised and the boat was fast so it was a pleasure to be asked to step aboard in the tactician role.

We sailed a very consistent series, never out of the top five in the windward-leeward races. I did manage to get us a disastrous result in the ‘coastal race’ but what would you expect from a guy with little offshore experience? In the end we won the Copa del Rey with a nice margin. This fleet is now so competitive that the slightest mistake and you lose six places.

My second event was in Portimão, Portugal with Doug deVos and his Windquest team. Doug skippers and helms his boat and is a very good sailor. Even more, he is a great guy to hang around with. The current Windquest is last year’s Botin & Carkeek designed Warpath which was a very strong boat. We managed to finish fifth overall in the shortened series as the wind was MIA for the last two days…

Another feature of the Portimão event was the first appearance of Lagos Sports on the sailing scene. Everyone there was quite impressed with the shoreside hospitality and organisation. There was a large tent with breakfast for everyone each morning… I am talking about freshly made omelettes, fruit, cereal, juices, breads, yogurts, you name it, we had plenty of it. The free bar was always open and there were great evening events as well. Lagos Sports really impressed and set a new standard for hosting a sailing event; this fact was especially pleasing to Russell Coutts and myself as Lagos Sports is now the managing partner of the World Sailing League!

It is impressive to watch the eight new boats in the TP52 fleet. The five Vrolijk designs, upwind in particular, are very fast. They just have a nice little edge in anything over 11kt. Even compared to Mean Machine, last year’s Vrolijk super-boat, this year’s models are special. The new boats are even wider in the transom on deck, which must make more use of the crew weight when hiking. The new Botin boats, Caxia and Mutua Madrilena, are good boats also but more so under 10kt of wind… and downwind all the time. Patches, the only new Reichel-Pugh boat, is a very good all-round performer. For sure the new boats are faster but Peter de Ridder’s Mean Machine team showed everyone in Portimão that it is more about who sails best than boatspeed.

Artemis won the 2007 Breitling MedCup circuit with owner Torbjorn Torqnvist steering his own boat. That is the second year in a row that an ISAF Category 1 helmsman has won the season championship in this very competitive class. I think that sends a great message to the sailing community.

A few words on the Cup. I read Grant Simmer’s ‘justification’ of the Protocol for the 33rd AC in this magazine last month. I like Grant and respect him a lot. He asserts that changing boats will be ‘better for the small or new teams’. I really struggle with that. With 100 boats built, the existing AC class is running out of design space so it is harder for the big-budget teams to find significant gains. The competition this spring was the closest ever. Teams like Shosholoza surprised many.

And I think the final, with Team New Zealand, was a real scare for Alinghi. A new rule will create a wide open playing field and a lot more research will be required so the best flow codes and operators will yield significant speed advantages for their teams. That is good for the big teams who have money and a large design team in place now.

Of course Alinghi are stacking the deck even more… in case a new rule wasn’t enough. They are the ones creating the rule so they are pocketing another six months’ design time advantage. So help me again with this one, Grant?

Then once the new boats are launched, and since two-boat testing is not allowed, the teams with the most experienced people will be able to develop their boats more and faster. How does this help a small or new team?

There is another new rule, the ‘no two-boat testing rule’, whose purpose it is to save money by cutting personnel. This rule will cut some costs but maybe not as much as one might

think.

First of all, any cuts in personnel are from the lower end of the pay scale, not the top. Then, because delaying the start of construction will give the design team the best chance to find the right shape the teams will get their new boats with just three months to go until the racing. How do you optimize this boat that no one has any experience in? You hire one-and-a-half shore teams and they work all night every night to make sure that the boat is on the water every day. You hire two full sailing crews and you keep that boat sailing every single day of the week! But this rule is the motivation behind Alinghi saying, ‘Well it wouldn’t be fair to us to not have anyone to race against so we

are going to join the challenger selection series.’

This has all gone way too far. Changing the class of boat and moving to a two-year cycle is too much to do at the same time. Now we have the uncertainty of a court case to boot. The event was growing in such a positive way. Let’s come back toward the rhumb line… a couple of hundred miles to the right I think.

Outlook cloudy

America’s Cup 32 is in the record books. Team New Zealand were there in the finals for the fourth time in a row! Heavy favourites Alinghi won with a convincing score but less convincing performance. Two in a row for the Swiss team.

Five New Zealanders have been on the winning team in the last four Cups. I haven’t seen two boats as evenly matched all the way through the wind range in any America’s Cup or Louis Vuitton Cup. Ever. Either boat was capable of winning any race. Now the defender wants to change the class. Back to 5-0?

The event was a great success, in my opinion. The 32nd America’s Cup was the highest-profile event our sport has ever seen. Starting with the physical layout and size of Port America’s Cup, through to the hospitality at the Foredeck Club, the stadium racecourse right in front of the beach, and the fact that it was in Europe and within two hours’ flying for 330 million people. Also, as there is a profit-sharing scheme (similar to other recent Cups), teams should do well financially due to ACM’s shrewd business acumen.

It was hard to know who to cheer for in the final. The Kiwi underdogs were charming in their basic, low-profile way. I usually root for the underdog but if the Cup had gone to New Zealand it would not be as commercially valuable as if Alinghi won and it stayed in Europe. If the Cup went to New Zealand there would be half the teams competing, because sponsors would not be able to justify the investment for an event so far from Europe. The market for sailors, designers and shore teams would shrink and salaries

would be cut in half. That is the brutal economic truth.

So what is the plan for America’s Cup 33? Two days after Alinghi defended the Cup they released the Protocol for the next America’s Cup and confirmed that Desafío Español would be the Challenger of Record. The Protocol is the agreement signed between the defender and the first challenger accepted. It is binding upon all who challenge for the Cup as a condition of entry. So what does the new Protocol for AC 33 say?

Actually, not much of a specific nature. Alinghi gave us a range of possible dates, 2009-2011, named ‘Europe’ as the venue, and probably a new class of boat that will be defined by the end of this year unless there is good reason why it can’t be.

They also stated that they will make and can modify the rules… at their discretion. They said that the new class will be announced no less than 18 months before the first race. They then added that only Alinghi designers would create the new rule and that all others would be excluded from the process. This begs the question: how long before the rule is released will Alinghi start working on their design? Probably months because the process of drawing up the new rule will include a lot of research into what characteristics are needed to achieve the performance characteristics they are looking for…

Model testing, VPP and race analysis would be normal ‘work’ in producing a new rule; the same work you do once you know the rule you’re designing to. So in creating the rule themselves, Alinghi have given themselves six to eight months’ headstart in a design cycle that will last less than one year if they race in 2009 – as they say will be the case if Valencia is the venue.

I really do hate to say it, but the general feeling one gets in reading the Protocol is that of a stacked deck in favour of the defender… very possibly more so than ever.

A few excerpts from the new Protocol:

Article 4 Challenging Competitors – Notice of Entry. No date is given for when challenges will be accepted. ACM will define the conditions of challenge. No date is given for when these documents

will be available. Even after one complies with all the conditions, ACM throw this one at you… 4.4 states that ACM may, at their sole and entire discretion, accept or reject any entry received.

10 Competitors’ Commission. A competitors’ commission will be formed. Each challenger will have the right to two representatives on the commission. The commission shall have no right to make application to the jury or arbitration panel, no right to vote, no power to amend any documents. Pretty gutless?

11 The Competition. There may be qualifying regattas, Acts, similar to last time… which may be used to select and even eliminate some competitors. These qualifying regattas will be mandatory for all challengers.

13 The Regatta. The schedule will be announced by 31 December 2007 or at such later date as may be reasonably required. In no case shall the regatta be held prior to 2009 nor later than 2011. At the time the schedule is announced the regatta format will be confirmed. Presumably it will include the Challenger Series (previously the Louis Vuitton Cup) and the America’s Cup match.

13.5… specifically allows the defender to race in the challenger series up until the final! How would that be? You could have Alinghi in there throwing races to teams depending on who they want to see advance. Then they bow out for the finals and step back in for the Cup? This is very creative! So not only are the

challengers not running their own elimination series, they don’t have any say in how it is done. Further the defender is racing in it! That is a bit of evolution from my first days in the Cup. I am not even sure that this concept is in line with the Deed of Gift.

16.3 No nationality rules. This begins: ‘In accordance with past practice in the America’s Cup…’ This is insulting. Why do they try to make it seem like this rule, their preferred rule for nationality… NONE, has been in existence for many editions of the Cup? It is only since Alinghi modified this rule in 2003 that it has existed.

17.1 Competition Regulations. This includes essential components such as how many boats each team will be allowed to build, how many sails, testing and training restrictions, reconnaissance rules, number of support boats, basically the rules of the game. Never mind that these stipulations are not issued at this time. Once they do get issued they may be amended ‘from time to time’ by ACM. Remember that ACM is appointed by the defending yacht club, and that ACM is a company that is controlled by Bertarelli.

35 Resort to court is prohibited. No entity can make application to a court but rather must rely on the arbitration process in the Protocol. But nothing shall prevent the defender from making any application it considers in its sole discretion appropriate regarding the administration of the Deed of Gift.

Get the flavour? Read this all through and then revisit one of the very first clauses in the new Protocol:

2.3: Fair Competition. A competitor shall compete in compliance with recognised principles of sportsmanship and fair play (sic).

You will not be surprised that there is a fair degree of consternation around Valencia right now. Are we honestly going forward?

(The 33rd Cup Protocol is at americascup.com)

Must do better

The two round-robins are now finished. No surprises among the top three. The battle for fourth was a tough one. Mascalzone Latino looked favourite for the final spot after beating Team New Zealand in their very first race, but they could not hold the form and in the end Desafío Español secured that fourth slot.

Having done some work with Desafío this spring, it was nice to see the Spanish grow through the round-robins. They have a good boat, great boat-handling and they steadily improved. For sure they will face a tough opponent in the semi-finals but they have possibly the most potential to improve.

It was interesting to see the differences in the designs and which shapes prevailed. A high-prismatic boat (more volume in the ends) would do better in strong winds and lower prismatic (volume more concentrated in the middle of the hull) would do better in lighter winds and in manoeuvring. Also there are the cross-sectional shape differences. Some boats are very round and some have very hard bilges, almost chines. As the class has got narrower, bilges have been pushed harder to maintain stability and to reduce wetted surface at 30 – 33 degrees’ heel … the upwind target angle in 15kt. But the harder bilges seem to make the boat slower manoeuvring. While on these Version 5 boats with Desafío I often had the sensation I was sailing a shoebox in the prestart, as compared to the 2000 boats.

To my eye, in the top six, high-prismatic boats are Victory and Mascalzone, middle are BMW Oracle and Desafío Español, and the lowest-prismatic boats are Luna Rossa and Team New Zealand. The other big variable is which boats have been worked up to near the maximum of their potential. Obviously the bigger teams, with more money and time and experience, have got the most out of their boats. So from a design perspective we can’t draw any big conclusions simply from race results.

Personally, I like the mid to high-prismatic boats. I think Mascalzone and Victory are very good designs but both suffered from lack of experience in getting the most out of their boats in the time. Also the detailing, including fin/bulb/rudder, may not have been optimised fully. There is a lot of speed in detailing, tuning and sail shape and trim. There is a lot of speed in the steering and trimming that goes on during a race. Sailing is very dynamic. Not all teams are sailing their boat to the full potential all the time. The good teams can keep the boat ‘in the groove’ 97 per cent of the time while the less experienced teams will get distracted by the race and sail well maybe 85 per cent of the race. I think Alinghi is at least as high prismatic as BMW if not close to Mascalzone. That is why Alinghi are moving the start time for the match to a time that suits! Nice to be able to do that, eh? The others… 11th) China – good first try? Nice to have them in the game. 10th) Germany – first-timers. Nice to have them in the game. Not a terribly slow boat. 9th) +39 – underfunded. Too bad for an excellent group of sailors. 8th) Areva – more of the same from France, a country that should be doing better by now. 7th) Shosholoza – simply the best of the rest. Tomasso Chieffi and Paolo Cian did a great job. A lot of heart and soul in this team. 6th) Mascalzone – huge improvement on 2003. Almost! 5th) Victory Challenge – close but no cigar from a country that has been in the game for a while now. Got going too late.

A quick look at the semi-finalists

Team New Zealand came into play on the last day of the roundrobins. Good to see this type of execution when the pressure is on. The boat seems OK, but not great. It is good in 11kt and under. Fast downwind but these races are won at the start and up the first windward leg. Is there some more in the shed? BMW Oracle look very strong in all areas. USA 98 is a good all-round boat. Brady and Isler are doing a nice job of keeping it all together in the back. The crew are solid. But the question is will they be able to maintain the form when the going gets tough? Luna Rossa are similar to TNZ in design and performance – best suited to 11kt and under. Maybe not quite as powerful upwind. Will these teams be able to improve their range? Luna already have the low CG/high wetted surface bulb. What else can they do? Desafío look to have a similar prismatic to Oracle. This boat has the wheels in 15kt and defends well in 10. The sea breeze should be more regular as we go on and the start time from now on is 1500 which should favour Desafío and BMW… Desafío will be the underdog in the semis but no pressure is a great way to race.

Desafío Español are the only ‘first-time’ challenge in the four. The other three are into at least their second (BMW Oracle) or 6th (TNZ) attempt. The ‘roll-on’ factor is a big advantage. The best ‘first-time challenge’ and ‘bang for the buck’ award has to go to Shosholoza. This team impressed and enchanted. So what is the end game for the winner of the Louis Vuitton Cup? Alinghi are waiting. Well, not really waiting. They are working hard testing changes and making their own schedule while the challengers try to win races and develop boats at the same time. After an incredibly well-conceived Protocol which has given Alinghi more advantages than any defender has ever had, the winner of the Louis Vuitton Cup can expect not only every card stacked against them but also a very fast boat and well-oiled crew. The Alinghi trimmers are the best in the business so they are getting the most out of their boat more of the time than the rest.

The crew are mostly the same as 2003, so lack of confidence is not a problem! The one weakness may be at the helm. Obviously, Russell Coutts is the best but probably Baird or Holmberg will be good enough to get the job done.

Outlook: Alinghi 5-1. This may be generous to the challenger. Then what? Cup in Valencia in two years? Cup in Dubai? Cup to the highest bidder? Probably. Entertaining Dubai and others just to up the ante for Valencia? Probably.

Valencia has all the infrastructure so it would be a shame not to use it again. Collecting money from everywhere possible has been one of ACM’s most prolific traits… Just ask anyone who ponied up the 500,000 euros for a parking spot in the harbour for a couple of months.

All the hype by ACM about being an objective race organiser is just that – hype. This is the first time ever that the challenger eliminations have been run by the defender. It has never been worse for the challengers and I would be surprised if they accept this imposition again from this group. It is a shame really because the concept of one independent race management for the entire event is a good one.

But this ACM is a subsidiary of Alinghi and little has been done to mask that fact. I think BMW Oracle should send Larry in himself to do the negotiating next time. He seems to do pretty well in the software world.

Tough End To A Tough Road

Round-the-world race winner and multiple America’s Cup skipper Paul Cayard has been immersed in the Cup since his first event in 1983 in Newport, RI, when he sailed alongside fellow San Francisco native Tom Blackaller on the 12-Metre Defender

The 32nd America’s Cup will be the mostcompetitive in the event’s 155-year history. For 2007 the boats are closer in speed, the Valencian racecourse is not as steadyas originally thought, the teams are all at ahigh level having had years of training.

As always, there are teams who stackup better on paper than others. Prior to the event all we can go on are statistics of what has happened so far and try to project. Once we’re into the racing and get to know the perfor-mance of the boats things will become a bit clearer…

Complete Seahourse Article – Adobe Acrobat required

Back in the Cup game…

It is the beginning of a new year and there is plenty going on. In the spring in Spain the Louis Vuitton Cup will be a great spectacle as it always is, and the America’s Cup will be raced for the 32nd time. In the ramp up toward the Olympic Games in China the ISAF Combined World Championships will take place in Cascais, and here in the USA we will hold our Olympic trials six months earlier than in the past in an effort to upgrade our performance in Qingdao. There will be a new roundthe-world event, the Barcelona World Race, and teams for the 2008 Volvo Ocean Race are already getting out on the water, with the Mean Machine crew taking the lead by getting out sailing for a few weeks before Christmas in the old Black Pearl.

I was flattered to be invited to join the Spanish America’s Cup team, Desafío Español 2007 – an invitation I accepted. I have agreed to work with them in February and March, in trialling their two new boats and in their preparations for the Louis Vuitton Cup. I am joining in an advisory role and will sail on the B-boat. I am looking forward to sailing with the Spanish, as they are a very good team that is fighting a tough battle with several other teams to be Louis Vuitton semi-finalists in May.

I am also interested to see the technological progress that has been made in the America’s Cup Class in the past four years. I am sure that sails and rigs have reached a very high level of refinement with all the money that has been poured into this event… I think this Louis Vuitton Cup will be one of the most competitive and closely fought contests in the history of the Cup.

The class has now been around for 15 years, 100 boats have been built and there are more professionals spending more time with more resources than ever. Should be good spectating…

Later in the year I am still planning on racing in the Transpac with my kids; but I have to admit that I have not solved all the issues of getting organised for that. In fact, I am still without a boat!

I have looked at a few options but not decided on anything as yet. Plan B will be to do the Pacific Cup in 2008. This starts in my town and finishes in Hawaii, so it has the added benefit of sailing out under the Golden Gate Bridge. The adventure is the same and the extra year of prep time may be a necessity.

In early August, my son, Danny, will compete in the 29er Swedish Championship in my in-laws’ home town of Kullavik, Sweden, as well as in the European Championship in Gottskar, slightly further south. I am not sure whether it will be Danny or my father in-law Pelle [Petersen] who will enjoy those events more. Danny is also a newcomer to the 49er class and has promised to take his dad out for a burn on the bay. I just bought my own trapeze harness and am standing by for the call!

I am also planning on jumping into the Star Olympic trials toward the end of the year. It will be a last-minute thing as opposed to the 18-month effort I put in for Athens. But I have been around Olympic Trials since 1980. I have been involved in sailing for over 40 years. I have seen plenty of people who deserved to win a regatta not win it and those who had little invested win. That is the nature of our sport and you have to know your venues. Some are more conducive to such a ‘hip shot’. Our Star trials will be held in late October in Marina Del Rey. Now there is a spotty, fluky, choppy venue at the best of times. Perfect for an older, seasoned, experienced and out-of-shape, untrained but hopefully lucky competitor. Nothing invested is the best way to sail loose.

I have been around my home in California most of the time since the Volvo ended in June. I have really enjoyed my family and being a supporter of their interests rather than being so consumed and focused on my own project that I missed everything that is going on with them. I am learning, slowly, that there is more to life than sailing, that life is relatively short, and that if you don’t make the time to participate or enjoy certain special things, you will miss them and they will be gone forever. This isn’t to say that you must put aside your competitive desires or career. It is to say that, if possible, you should become more selective as you grow older. I think that this will make the things I choose to do in both my sailing and my personal life more enjoyable and probably even more successful.

Finally my new book, The Black Pearl – A Pirate Ship, has now been published. Great winter reading in front of the fireplace plus all the profits will go to support youth sailing in the San Francisco Bay area!

It is over

Seahorse

August 2006

It is over. As I said in my last article, “a lot can and will happen” between NY and the finish in Gothenberg.

I think what happened was beyond all of our expectations. The very unfortunate loss of Hans Horrevoets and the sinking of movistar were almost too much to take in a 48 hour period. Just as the event was sinking in its most disastrous moment, the kids on ABN2 revived the show with their outstanding seamanship, composure, and compassion. The Portsmouth stopover was naturally a subdued with all that had happened out on the Atlantic. Through it all, everyone kept looking to the “kids” to set the tone and lead the way forward. They made good decisions all the way including the one to continue in the race.

Onboard The Black Pearl, we managed to move solidly into second place overall in Portsmouth, only to antagonize our families and fans during the “Round Great Britain leg” and the Rotterdam In-Port race, allowing Brasil1 to have a shot at us on the last leg. We were managing our lead, playing a conservative hand, but the heat was definitely going up in the kitchen. But in the end, we did what we had to do and even managed to win the last leg to end the “Lap” on a huge high. The number of boats and people awaiting our arrival in Gothenberg was a least twice as big as the two America’s Cup finals that I have been in. For me, it was extra special as my wife is Swedish and my inlaws were all there to welcome us home.

To finish second overall, after being last after the Cape Town In-Port race, and all the struggles we had with the boat, was a very satisfying achievement. Satisfaction is derived by exceeding your expectations, and while we did not win this race, I am every bit as satisfied as I was after winning with EF in 1998. My biggest pleasure was seeing our team, 30 strong, come together over the 12 months. We started as a bunch of individuals and developed into a team. That process is a beautiful thing. I think it is one of the most special things about sport. The intensity of sport matures relationships at a very high rate. People who don’t know each other at all at the beginning of something like this, are life long friends at the end of it. There will always be a special place in my memory for the 30 Pirates who made it all happen.

I stayed in Sweden for 10 days following the Volvo. My sister in law got married and I just hung around with my family. I then went down to Castellon and raced in the TP 52 regatta there with Lexus/Atalanti. Russell Coutts was the helmsman so we had some fun sailing together for the first time. We did not have a good regatta though, finishing 9th out of 21 boats. The bottom line there is that is a very competitive fleet. It is almost one design in terms of the speeds. I would liken it to Star racing more than Farr 40 racing. The boats have some conditions when they exhibit a slight edge but, by and large, any boat can when any race. The regatta leader and race 5 winner, finished 16th in race 6 and dropped 6 places in the standings. Half of the boats are new for this season so that was just the second regatta. All the boats are in the process of improving their performance. We had some issues with upwind speed and getting enough load on the rudder. So we played with the rake and rig set up and made some small improvements. There is a lot to be learned there and lots of potential for every boat in the fleet. Whoever puts the time in will reap the benefits.

Last week, I went to Cascade Locks on the Columbia River (Oregon) with my son and his crew Max. He was sailing his 29er there and 49ers were also racing. That is a fantastic place to sail. 15-20 knots of wind every day, flat and fresh water, good camping, inexpensive and generally a relaxed atmosphere. I was the guy in charge of buying the beer, getting is chilled down, getting the pistachios, chips and salsa, and having it all ready when the boats hit the shore. I had our pickup truck backed up to the levy, tailgate down, cooler out in front, extra chairs laid out when the guys and gals came ashore. I really enjoyed having a couple of cold ones, listening to everyone talk about the races that day and just relaxing at a regatta. I also went kite boarding for the first time. Damn, I wish I had discovered that 20 years ago. But, “never too late”, and “nothing like the present” so I am into it. But, I also like the 49ers. I could see getting one myself.

Maybe.

This weekend I am sailing my new Star, for the first time, in Santa Barbara for the Lipton Cup. There is a Lipton Cup in every club it seems, but this is the REAL Lipton Cup. Austin Sperry, who with John Dane, has won the Bacardi Cup, the North Americans, and a few other events this year, is coming out to tune me up. I need it.

I thought the plan was to relax after the Volvo! It could be so easy to get too much on my plate again. 49er, kite boarding, TP 52, Star Worlds in San Francisco in September, and I need to get back to my flying. I am concerned that I just never seem to learn.

Paul Cayard