Our team has been training on our AC45 here in Valencia for a week now. I went out yesterday and joined them onboard in 18-22 knots of wind. It was quite a ride! 27 knots was the top speed of the day and 20-24 knots is normal downwind speed in those conditions.
Our coach, Andrew Palfrey, had set up a course and the crew took the boat through its paces. The level of physical activity onboard is like nothing the America’s Cup has ever seen. The races last 30 minutes and the heart rate for most of the 5 man crew is over 150bpm for that entire period with peaks of 175. They actually wear heart rate monitors so the team’s trainer, Pete Cunningham, can log their physical capabilities and stresses. Recovery from these races will be paramount and the coach boat comes alongside after the session with energy drinks and protein bars. The crew eat “gel” throughout the day.
The crew on the day included Skipper – Terry Hutchinson (USA), Mainsheet trim – Sean Clarkson (NZL), Camber/Trim Kevin Hall (USA), Headsail trim – Morgan Trubovich (NZL), Bow – Julien Cressant (FRA). I was the “6th” man which is the guest. Terry let me steer on the the way back to the harbor which was fun.
I look at all this and wish I was 20 years younger. It looks like so much fun and I love that it is so physical. Growing up, I loved basketball as much as I loved sailing. But I ran out of vertical so stuck with the sailing. In sailing, I always loved the Star on a windy day because it is so physically challenging. It looks to me like catamaran sailing in the America’s Cup is going to bring sailing into the realm of a truly physical sport.
Our training continues through Tuesday, then the boat and its four containers and tender get packed up and trucked to Cascais (Portugal) for the first America’s Cup World Series event from August 6- 14.