Posts Tagged ‘America’s Cup’
San Francisco’s demands to host the 35th America’s Cup proved too much for Russell Coutts, who sent a letter to Mayor Ed Lee this morning.
“”Given the tight timeline and demands from prospective teams to confirm the final venue, it has been necessary to continue reducing the shortlist of candidate cities,” Coutts wrote. “We have therefore taken the difficult decision to no longer consider San Francisco as a possible candidate to host AC35.”
Union wages, NIMBY bitching, and the lack of concessions on fire/police services and pier restoration money don’t work with Coutts’ mission to make the Cup sustainable – a mission that depends on 8-figure venue hosting fees, tax breaks, and long term subsidies from places that see the value in offering them, and we’ve learned that Bermuda is currently throwing the biggest pot of gold at Coutts & Co as of today.
Far be it for us to criticize the business acumen of a guy who just threw spent more money on a per-spectator/per-viewer basis than anyone in the history of sport with almost nothing to show for it, but is an island nation that has lost more than a third of its hotel rooms since 1990 and that, according to most sources, has less than 10,000 beds and 4,000 rooms, a good choice to host what they called a couple of years ago, the ‘third most economically valuable sporting event in the world?’ Remember, this is an island where literally everything needs to be flown in from elsewhere, and it has one of the highest costs of living on Earth.
Maybe Russell is on to something here; after all, the only Bermudian industry bigger than tourism is tax avoidance and international banking; specifically, Bermuda is one of the world’s top tax havens for businesses, and a great place to register your multi-million dollar yacht or plane. Did Coutts finally come to the decision that millions of poor, downtrodden masses will never make the Cup pay? Can the Cup reach commercial nirvana by catering only to the kind of ultra-rich folks who own super yachts and can write off million-dollar trips to schmooze in VIP tents in Bermuda? It worked for Louis Vouitton – well, at least until Coutts’ last big plan chased them out of the game…
June 11th, 2014 by admin
As Russell Coutts continues his efforts to become the Bernie Ecclestone of the America’s Cup, another Bernie learned yesterday that San Francisco is most likely OUT of consideration for AC35. You’d think the new buzzwords of sustainability and commercial viability might argue for Northern California staying part of the AC, but apparently, they’re just too big a pain in the ass for Coutts; in a truly bizarre twist, an island in the middle of the Atlantic is now thought to be at the head of the list, thanks to government subsidies, tax breaks, and time zones, while San Diego and Chicago remain in the hunt, with the SoCal gem a marginal, haven’t-we-been-here-before option, thanks to the kelp, light air, and the fact that the racing will either be so far south offshore that it will be in Mexico or so far west that it might as well be in Hawaii, except it isn’t. It is equally retarded to think that the Midwest option is probably the best possible one, all things considered.
A Bermuda choice would be a major admission that huge crowds aren’t that important to the ‘commercial cup’, nor does any connection to America matter beyond the 25% nationality requirement or the name of the defending team or the competition itself. More irony in an AC35 that’s overflowing with the stuff.
June 10th, 2014 by admin
Straight out of the box, we expect Ben Ainslie Racing to have possibly the best shot at beating the Larry and Russell show for America’s Cup 35. Ben’s played this one pretty close to the bone, though it isn’t a stretch to tell you that long time big boat bowman and BAR Extreme Sailing Series crewmate Nick Hutton will be on the boat, as will, we expect, Paul Goodison and Mattie Cornwall. Will Big Ben bring along sailor chick Pippa Wilson? While size and strength will be at a premium for the AC62, Pippa’s proven in the X40 that she can do good things for a 40 footer and perhaps the ACWS; it’s been a goddamned long time since we saw a woman in the sport’s premier competition and Ben could make some serious PR points if she came along for the ride.
But his crew isn’t the reason we expect Ben to shine this time around, and the biggest news of the day isn’t about sailing teams; it’s about designers, and we understand that Ben has or is close to signing up Adrian Newey OBE – the 4-time Formula One winning aerodynamicist responsible for the dominant Red Bull Racing cars for the past three seasons of F-1. Red Bull announced last week that Newey had signed on for a contract extension with the team, but not a typical one; Newey will design the 2015 cars and then expand his job to oversee the new Red Bull Technology program, and we believe that Sir Adrian’s first big project is to help Sir Ben bring the Cup home to Britain for the first time in more than a century and a half. It makes sense that Red Bull will come along as a major sponsor of Ainslie as well, especially as we’ve heard from several Red Bull insiders that they were less-than-enamored with their Oracle partnership in 2013. If you’re not an F-1 fan, trust us – this is the biggest threat to Ellison on the horizon; well, that, and the fact that Detroit’s favorite sailing son is now in Cagliari wearing a shiny helmet and robot armor…
We’ll have the press conference for you as soon as it is available; watch this space and www.benainslie.com. And stay tuned for a detailed analysis of the Protocol and AC62 rule later in the week – the kind of thing you’ll only see here on SA.
UPDATE: Apparently, streaming a press conference on the web is simply too difficult to handle for the world’s most decorated sailor, his media team, and a 100 million dollar budget, so you’re shit out of luck if you want to watch it here, or frankly anywhere that isn’t BBC on a television set. Welcome to 2014.
UPDATE 2: Oracle Team USA lead designer Dirk Kramers has jumped ship; the American will be with Team Ben for the next AC. If you don’t remember Dirk, we caught up with him at the Little AC last fall.
June 10th, 2014 by admin
Formerly ESP-65 Desafio Espanol and before that, USA-65 One World, this IACC boat has definitely seen better days. Unfortunate situation or an allegory for the sorry state of Spanish sailing these days? Pierre Orphanidis at Vsail has the story, and he took this excellent shot.
May 30th, 2014 by admin
Our pals at Gunboat continue to work on the super-sexy coastal racer/cruising G4, but with a twist: Now, you can get them with J-foils. Flight of fancy or flight for real? We grabbed team member and design dude Rudo Enserink for a quick update.
SA: With the J-boards and T-rudders, this is looking like a full foiler. Is that really possible on a boat with bunks and a kitchen?
RE: Yes and no. We’re first going to build high-lift C-foils for safe but very fast foil-assisted sailing. The mildly asymmetric C-boards can be raked from -1 to +7 degrees and will be set at the factory for safe cruising. The lift of these foils maxes out at 80% of displacement, and advanced owners can play with the rake adjustment to optimize for purpose and conditions. One of the great things about C-foils is that you can leave the windward daggerboard deployed in all tacks.
The hull and daggerboard casing structure is prepared for full foiling, as are daggerboard bearings and rudder bearings.
If there’s enough interest from the market we’ll develop an electronically stabilized full foiling package that will be available as aftermarket upgrade. The current concept for this is an L-foil and auto-leveling T-rudders.
SA: Who is building/designing the foils?
RE: Foils are designed jointly by Doug Schickler from Schickler Tagliapietra, with Davide Tagliapietra, Pieter Jan Dwarshuis, Mischa Heemskerk and Rudo Enserink. They will be built in by Holland Composites (also builder of DNA A-cats), in their autoclave, and you can see some progress at their Facebook page.
SA: That’s a pretty serious VPP chart. Is that with the C-foils or with the new J/L foils?
RE: This VPP is with the C-foils.
May 14th, 2014 by admin
It’s the one-year anniversary of Andrew “Bart” Simpson’s death aboard the JuanK AC72 known as Big Red, and also Bart’s wife Leah’s birthday, and no one can say that Bart’s friends – guys like Iain Percy, Nathan Outerridge, Paul Goodison, and Ben Ainslie – have let the memory of the man fade away, even for a few moments. They’ve spread his name all over the UK in countless ways, with major time and money going into the creation of the record-attempting Bart’s Bash and todays ‘s dedication of the Andrew Simpson Sailing Centre in Weymouth.
It all seems so uplifting until you realize that there still hasn’t been a single word of the investigation into Bart’s death released by anyone, anywhere, at any time – if one was ever completed at all. We asked the San Francisco PD whether their investigation was ever completed, and they said, “what investigation?” We asked last year for the results of Artemis’ investigation, and never heard a word. Not a single federal or state agency has said a word about culpability for Bart’s death, and we don’t expect them to.
Is every one of Bart’s friends willing to just say ‘shit happens’ instead of finding a shred of responsibility or accountability for the fuckups in design, construction, and/or sailing that killed their teammate? We expected it from disgraced team CEO Paul Cayard, who said next to nothing and basically became invisible after Bart’s death until being booted from the team after Artemis’ ignominious exit from the LV Cup. But to get the same silence from real leaders; guys like Ainslie and Percy and Goodi who’ve never been bashful about speaking their mind, we expect better.
If this was Formula One, someone would be in court or jail right now, or at the very minimum, hauled before a governmental investigation panel. But this is sailing, something no one in public office cares about for more than 12 seconds, and if Bart’s friends inside the sport don’t make noise, no one will. While we think it’s awesome they are raising all this money – much of it going to Bart’s widow – we also wonder if maybe, the best way to remember Bart would be to find out exactly why his boat killed him after folding itself into little pieces on a typical day in San Francisco. You don’t hold people accountable out of vengeance, or anger – you do it so history doesn’t repeat itself.
CLARIFICATION: There’s been a lot of discussion about our editorial above, and we’d like to clarify a bit: We are not questioning the integrity of any of Bart’s friends or family. We are questioning why a death on an AC72 is any different than a motor sports, air racing, or traffic accident, or for that matter, any of the numerous life-ending sailing tragedies we’ve seen over the past couple of years, and we are questioning why people close to Bart haven’t demanded more. Low Speed Chase went up on the rocks just a few miles from San Francisco last year in a crewed race, killing 5 crew of the 8 aboard. An extensive, expensive, nearly year-long investigation took place thanks to US Sailing, with a lot of important lessons learned by the hundreds of thousands around the world following the tragedy, and some closure for the families and friends of the deceased sailors.
Meanwhile, there’s been no such response by US Sailing, ISAF, the USCG, the State, or anyone else for Simpson; rather, there have been a few open-and-shut inquiries by police departments with no apparent interest in delving into an area that’s totally unfamiliar to them, with every move watched over by legal counsel to billionaire businessmen. There has been an internal investigation by Artemis without a single page released to anyone outside a tiny circle of Artemisians. What about the tens of thousands of fans Bart had? What about an English public that cheered he and Percy on so strongly during the Games? Do they not deserve more than silence?
CORRECTION: Richard Butcher is Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation, the charity formed in memory of Bart, and he wanted to correct our piece. Over to him.
The purpose of the charity is principally educational, via the sport of sailing. This will partly be met by encouraging into the sport those youngsters who would not otherwise have that opportunity. One of our aims is to help find marine related apprenticeships for some of these youngsters. Yesterday, we achieved a historic milestone in the charity’s short period of existence by opening the sailing centre in Weymouth. This enables us to have a focus at a world class facility. Every bit of the amount raised is destined to help fulfil our objectives, and we have every ambition of this becoming a world-wide charity once funding permits.
There was a serious inaccuracy in the item you published yesterday. None of the monies raised for the charity will go to Leah, Bart’s widow. It will only go towards the fulfilment of our objectives. Leah is one of our Trustees and it would not, in any event, be permissible for her to benefit from the charity. It is most important that those making donations to the charity, whether it be by Bart’s Bash or otherwise, are not in any way misled as to what will become of their donations.
May 9th, 2014 by admin
Some of us were extremely excited at the possibility for a Hawaii America’s Cup. Hot bodies, perfect weather, great weed, and locals that hate everyone – it would have been the ultimate ‘fuck you’ to the mainstream spectator so desperately sought out during AC34 and like San Francisco, the distance helps keep those pesky Euro-riffraff out.
Unfortunately for lovers of the Rainbow State, a strangely worded piece with a missing story link from the Maui News appears to put ‘paid’ to the idea, with blogger Robert Collias telling the tale of GGYC bigwig Norbert “The Mechanic” Bajurin and his speaking junket in Hawaii last week. Bajurin confirmed to at least one Hawaiian journalist that, between the lack of infrastructure and lack of a protected sailing venue, it wasn’t going to happen, and that ‘Perhaps, we’ll have a training thing.”
The smart money says San Francisco’s leaders need to hold the line against GGYC’s now-familiar venue-shopping charade. No one on the team wants to move again, especially not to light air San Diego or Chicago. What does Grant Dalton think? Get those answers in this great interview with RadioTalkNZ’s Tony Veitch.
May 5th, 2014 by admin
Two AC wins and the informal title amongst San Franciscans as the AC’s sexiest sailor haven’t gone to Angtiguan Shannon Falcone’s head; the musclebound monster is still as humble and down-t0-Earth as he’s ever been, and he’s an easy guy to cheer for – especially when he’s using his connections to help kids in the islands get more into sailing. Shannon was instrumental in getting the big Cup to town for a quick visit as Sailing Week comes into its final days; check out the video profile above for a look at Shannon and his family, with thanks to Roddy and the ASW video team.
May 2nd, 2014 by admin
AC34 Challenger of Record Artemis Racing has had a rough year of it; first losing Bart Simpson, then blowing some $100M of team owner Torborn Tornquist’s cash in what turned out to be the a completely uncompetitive bid for the America’s Cup and the weakest in the fleet.
Artemis boss Iain Percy has been busy building Tornquist’s team for AC35, with helmsman Nathan Outteridge signing up again and a design team rapidly coming together, but Russia’s military action in Ukraine may throw a wrench in Tornquist’s money machine if a Reuters report yesterday is a sign of things to come.
Reuters (via BusinessInsider) says that the US Government’s latest round of economic and travel sanctions names Gennady Timchenko (on the right in the image above), Tornquist’s partner and the co-founder of oil and gas business giant Gunvor, writing that “Timchenko’s activities in the energy sector have been directly linked to Putin” and that the Russian President “has investments in Gunvor and may have access to Gunvor funds.” Timchenko’s US holdings are immediately subject to an asset freeze and the oligarch can no longer travel to the US or its territories, and he ‘sold’ his 44% stake in Gunvor yesterday to Tornquist to prevent the turmoil from effecting the monster company he built.
With Europe in strong solidarity with the US and Russia showing no signs of backing down from its occupation and annexation of Crimea (and making strong moves now in Latin America), could Tornquist be next, potentially losing the ability to sponsor his Cup team or even attend any US-based events? Almost as importantly, the Russian annexation and its consequences certainly crush any hopes that Russian gas giant Gazprom had for getting their own Cup team off the ground this year. That could kill two well-funded AC teams off before the Protocol for AC35 even hits the mailbox, and the rumored Russian ACWS venue negotiations are not going to go well.
Nice work, Vlad!
March 21st, 2014 by admin
Sailing Anarchy was launched right around the time when the first Moth – Brett Burville’s surface-piercer – went flying. As the Moth took over the world of ultra high-performance single handing, SA took over the sailing internet, and we’ve had a special relationship with the Moth ever since. That explains our joy when we see just how incredibly strong the Moth is, with 2014 likely to mark the strongest year in the history of the foiling Moth.
This year’s North American circuit is well underway, with longtime SA’er and two-time World Champ Bora Gulari defending his National title this coming weekend against new US Sailing Team member Brad Funk and a fleet including Star Gold Medalist Freddy Loof, multiple keelboat world champ Anthony Kotoun, and all the rest of the adrenaline junkie crowd. We’ll be there helping the US Class get photos, video, and news out via the US Moth Class Facebook Page this Friday to Sunday.
Meanwhile, the Moth Worlds at Hayling Island in the UK is about to set an all-time record for entries in a Moth WC – with 5 months to go until the event! We Expect somewhere over 150 boats in Hayling including full teams from a number of America’s Cup campaigns – foils will be the key to the next Cup, and the smart designers and sailors know that, with the A-Class split over whether to go forward or backwards, there is only one singlehander that will let them hone their skills for the biggest trophy of them all.
Europe is heating up just as quickly, with the first Act of the EFG MothEuroCup taking place in Bordeaux, France soon. It’s the first of six awesome events held all over Europe, including the excellent Delta Lloyd Regatta in Holland in May, the Swiss and German Nationals, Traunsee Week in Austria and of course Europe’s best sailing spot in Lake Garda has to be on the calendar as well. In this second year edition of the MothEuroCup, EFG Bank has stepped up to the plate as the series Sponsor, offering more than € 13,000 in total prize money.
With EFG Bank supporting Stars, Vipers, Melges 24s, and now the Moth, we’re giving them a shout out; keep it up, bankers! For a little video teaser of the Europcup, check this out on Vimeo. Thierry Martinez photo from Hawaii.
March 20th, 2014 by admin
The rapidly changing face of sponsorship in a post-GFC world requires new thinking and new alliances, but it also is brings new problems to the table.
Example 1: All Americans are stoked to see the All-American Offshore Team boys running the show for the first Volvo Ocean Race challenge with a Turkish sail number. Turkish sponsor Alvimedica is a young, cutting-edge medical tech company from Istanbul, and the entry hopes to build and grow interest for offshore racing in the near East nation. But what happens to that effort if both Youtube and Facebook can’t even be accessed from Turkey, as an Associated Press story today reported might be coming soon? Check out what the Turkish Prime Minister said on censoring the internet here.
Example 2: The whole world has eyes on the Black Sea as Russia continues what seems like an empire-building exercise in Crimea. With sanctions on Russian individuals already imposed by the US and EU, suddenly those Greenpeace protests of the Gazprom-sponsored Esimit Europa Maxi seem almost quaint. Why’s that? Because the massive Russian-owned energy utility is already sponsoring an Extreme 40 team, and solid inside rumors have them looking at entering the next America’s Cup with a big Gazprom logo on the wing. ABC Madrid reporter Pedro Sardina says that Gazprom will be on the world stage even before that (though we haven’t been able to confirm); Sardina writes that ETNZ boss Grant Dalton has already signed a deal with Gazprom for sponsorship of the ETNZ/Pedro Campos round-the-world bid.
What happens when a Russian owned and/or sponsored team comes to a Europe that may be boycotting Russia? And what happens to events like the Extreme Sailing Series’ Russian stage?
- Tags: America's Cup, extreme sailing series, russia, St. Petersburg, team alvimedica, Ukraine, volvo ocean race
March 7th, 2014 by admin
While interest and membership in the International A-Class Cat remains at an all-time high, the just-concluded, semi-foiling Takapuna Worlds brought significant new questions to light in the world’s premiere singlehanded multihull.
The problem isn’t necessarily foiling – anyone watching the Worlds saw a fleet where even the very best pro racers could only foil for some of the time, and most of them would be in similar positions if there were no J, L, or C foils at all. The problem is that the Class is quite neatly split down the middle as to whether they want a foiling boat.
Current A-Class rule 8.1 limits the span of any vertical foil, which means only relatively small “J” or “L” shaped foils are allowed on an A-Cat. Rule 8.2 requires all appendages to be inserted from the top, which further limits the size of the foils and makes the kind of efficient wand-type controls that make a Moth so effective difficult or impossible to fit on an A-Cat.
None of this is new – in fact, Rule 8 dates back to 2009, and was clearly written to keep boats from flying. But as America’s Cup rules writers quickly learned (and nearly lost the Cup over), it’s easier to design around a rule than to design an effective rule.
So has it been with the A-Cat, and the cream of the Takapuna crop came up with huge board-holding cassettes fitting into massive holes in the hulls to circumvent rule 8.2 and a range of innovations to try to fly around rule 8.1, with less than satisfying results for those that think an A-Cat should truly fly. Meanwhile, a vote taken at the AGM to rescind Rule 8 failed to garner the requisite 2/3 majority, and the half-foilers remain the best option available for the next year.
Many young folks look at the Moth and scratch their head about the A-Cat conundrum. ”The Moth is so successful, why not follow right away with the A-Cat?” is a common refrain. But unlike the Moth Class of the early 2000s which was on life support and in danger of being delisted by ISAF when John and Garth Illet pioneered the two-bladed foiling moth, the A-Cat Class is extremely healthy throughout Europe, America, Australia, and NZ, and compared to the Moth, the A-Class is a long, heavy and ungainly machine. It’s also an expensive boat already; a top of the line DNA will not leave you a lot of change from $40 grand. A pre-foiling, top-of-the-line Moth cost around US$10k in 2000; today’s production Mach 2 is well north of twice that. Can the A-Class support the additional expense it takes – both in money and weight – to handle foiling loads?
Will the thousands of A-Cat devotees around the world stand for the kind of wholesale obsolescence of their expensive toys that would necessarily follow if someone comes up with the kind of world-beating machine that Andrew Macdougall and McConaghy China have with the Mach 2 Moth? And perhaps most importantly, what kind of unintended consequences will follow from the inevitable 30-knot crashes of a boat three times the mass and two or three times the cost of a Moth?
No one knows the answer to these very tough questions, but a group of dedicated A Class sailors in Australia led by Steve Brayshaw and sailmaker Stevie Brewin has a real desire to see stable flight become a reality. After consultation with foil designers, they’ve realized they can’t do this under the current rules, so they’re taking the next step: To see what it will take to make a stable foiling A-Cat. They believe that if they can prove to themselves and the world that it can be done, the worldwide members of the A-Class will only then have the information they need to be able to support a rule change.
The Steves are calling it the A-Class Speed, and the boats will measure as A-Class cats in all respects with the sole exception of Rule 8. This will allow them to insert new foils from the bottom into old boats with a minimum of fuss, allowing the kind of testing and development necessary to produce a proper foiling boat. Brayshaw will make the Speed his main focus as soon as the new foils are available, while Brewin will also sail the current A-Class until the Europeans to continue to provide sails and service to his Brewin Sails customers. Other A-Catters downunder have already committed to the project and anyone is welcome to get involved. Various highly-regarded foil designers have shown real interest in the project, with one boat already hastily converted with promising results. It is certainly going to be an interesting winter down under.
The first A-Class Speed Open Championship will happen on Lake Macquarie during the next Aussie summer, with the exact dates and venue to be announced as soon as possible. All are welcome, including anyone who wants to compare their existing boats to the new concept. For further information, hit up Stevie Brewin on Facebook or send a PM to SimonN in the SA forums.
And if you don’t know where the title for this piece comes from? Screw you, kid.
February 24th, 2014 by admin
Assisted by some tenacious questioning from TV3 (NZ) host Paul Henry, Dean Barker quite clearly lays much of the blame for ETNZ’s America’s Cup loss right at the feet of Grant Dalton, and not just as the guy with the reins. Barker blames Dalton for allowing Oracle to take the famous ‘lay day’ and says Winnie MacFarlane was a far better grinder, and goes even deeper – though they did not get into the single biggest reason they lost the Cup – ETNZ’s acceptance of the ‘post-Bart’ safety recommendations that allowed a ten-knot wind speed to be simply too low to allow the boats to finish a race under the time limit. This one is worth watching, and tomorrow we’ll have part two of this excellent interview. Click the pic or go here for the full ten-minute chat. The America’s Cup Anarchy thread is already blowing up…add your comment here.
In other AC news, we hear that Hawaii is actually getting real consideration for the next America’s Cup, and for the first time, we’re not discounting it as yet another negotiation ploy by Ehman and Co. to get a better deal out of San Francisco – especially with SF recently announcing that the loss to the City from providing services to the Cup is more than double that initially thought. Pros? You’re virtually guaranteed a massive crowd thanks to easy flights from Australia and New Zealand, it’s never cold and wet and foggy and nasty, you have a local government that desperately needs the tourism dollars, and Larry already owns an island there. Cons: American and European fans will be in the firm minority…but thanks to Youtube and Stan Honey and the fact that Louis Vuitton never wants to be seen in the same zip code as Red Bull anyway, no one really cares…do they?
February 12th, 2014 by admin
Unlike lesser publications, Sailing Anarchy doesn’t ever fuck off on vacation, and certainly not with one of the world’s best racing competitions coming up in just a few days! You can count on our front page becoming ‘Sydney Hobart Central’ for the next week or so thanks to McConaghy Boats and the Cleans, beginning with a full form guide for you later today, but in the meantime, how about a few videos to keep your sailing fires going as the ice creeps in over your roof?
Fayerweather Yacht Club (Bridgeport, CT) had some unwelcome company last week when a gravel barge ran right through their floating docks, a cruising boat, and an Olson 29. The security-cam footage ain’t the best, but it shows plenty, and thanks to moondance for the view and the thread.
Google’s annual Zeitgeist video celebrates the most-searched for terms of the year (we assume they leave out ‘lesbian teen’), and while it’s mostly self-serving ‘do no evil’ crap, we were stoked to see a few milliseconds of ETNZ’s AC72 on screen for the already more than 10,000,000 people who’ve seen it. AC34 never had a single video that reached even a quarter of that, but it’s the gift that keeps on giving especially in NZ, where “Americas Cup” was not only the most watched program of 2013, but it was also the most searched for term in the nation. Speaking of ETNZ, they’re not sitting around; a squad of six ETNZ’ers (including Gashby) are headed over to the A-Cat Worlds next month in Takapuna. Thanks to MaughanNacra20 for the tip.
Blades On A Lake
We wouldn’t have thought Garda would beat Geneva to the first-ever “all-foil sailing week”, but it looks like they have, at least if this Youtube-sourced promo video and their basic website is to be believed. Bring your foiling boat – any foiling boat – to the best sailing venue on the planet for two weeks of racing and a week of speed testing, brainstorming, idea exchange, and wine drinking? Sounds good to us. Check the site here.
We’d never have the gumption to get back at it after such a heartwrenching loss, but after a short soul search, the ETNZ boss is back at it, already looking for cash and signing up sailors. Last week he sat down with Channel 3 News for the most wide-ranging interview he’s done since he got home. Plenty of interesting news for Cup fans as the long, long waiting game settles in; the waiting game that explains why the AC can never be like the World Cup. Click the link to take you to an external player, or hit this one for a few minutes with Deano. Grazie to Stingray for the links; from the Dalts’ Optimistic thread.
December 23rd, 2013 by admin
For a decade, Alex Thomson has distinguished himself as the one non-French solo racer who can truly battle with the big boys both on the course and in the boardroom. Second in the inaugural Barcelona World Race and then an incredible third place in the last Vendee against far quicker designs, Hugo Boss has become synonymous with Alex and his Open 60, and they are clearly happy about it. That’s why the fashion house pulled the trigger last week on yet another 4-year deal with Thomson and management company 5West; they used the occasion to announce Thomson’s participation in the next Barcelona World Race with long time SA favorite Pepe Ribes, and the team also committed to next summer’s Ocean Masters NY-BCN race; a bit of a stunt to try to get US interest up in IMOCA action prior to what should be a well-funded, well-attended, and brilliant 2015 BWR. Congrats to Alex and his entire extended team; they are keeping IMOCA relevant for a hell of a lot of English-speakers.
Thanks in part to some of the same great supporters of Alex’s campaigns, we can confidently report that Sir Ben Ainslie – the first British member of a winning America’s Cup team in 110 years – is most of the way to meeting initial funding pledges and goals for the next America’s Cup and an all (or mostly) British team. While Sir Ben wouldn’t confirm or deny this when we spoke to him, other Pommie friends tell us that Ben’s been making great inroads, and probably has around 80% of the necessary funding pledged by a syndicate of UK businessman and long-time commercial sponsors. This all assumes a satisfactory protocol coming to light sometime before Judgment Day, and it’s spectacular news for the Cup and great news for fans of arguably the world’s best (and best-known) sailor, and we wish him all the luck in the world.
World Championship of the World
We’re also hearing that the AC45s may be done and dusted, and that 2014 will not be a year of ACWS racing of any kind. Meanwhile, Ben, Cammas, Luna Rossa, and ETNZ are likely to jump into the Extreme Sailing Series tout de suite, and some of the younger potential Cup B-teamers may get some starting and match racing practice in a resurgent World Match Racing Tour. Add in some cross training with the Flying Phantom foilers and you’ve got plenty of AC action for the next year, even with no AC. Good times (on tight budgets)…
December 19th, 2013 by admin
While IMOCA figures out what to do with its future, some of its most legendary skippers are moving in another direction. As first reported here on SA almost half a year ago, Franck Cammas is moving forward with his usual laser-beam focus on a French America’s Cup bid, and an announcement at the Paris “Nautic” boat show may be the first indicator that he could succeed where Les Freres Peyron couldn’t.
Picking up his second-annual French Sailor of the Year award last night, today Cammas pulled together a true ‘who’s who’ in French racing history for this morning’s announcement. Michel Desjoyeaux will lead the technical team and Franck the sailing team, while Olivier de Kersauson and Stephane Kandler will handle the less exciting parts of the effort.
The team’s “founding members” — in other words, the guys that have funded the initial sponsorship hunt and tried to open some boardroom doors — include big biz bosses Bruno Bich (Bic), Bertrand Méheut (Canal +), Thierry Martel (Groupama), Bruno Luisetti (formerly Kraft Jacobs Suchard) and Erik Maris (Messier Maris & Associés), but crucially no major sponsors were announced. In other words, there’s enough money to go looking for more, but not enough to start spending. We also hear from les anarchistes in Paris that some of the veteran grinders are being asked to keep their schedules open for late 2014 and 2015’s AC45 World Series, but no contacts have been signed…
The newly opened Team France thread is bound to be a big one; check it out over here.
While France throws its hat into the ring, Grant Dalton yesterday told 3News NZ that he was back in as well despite earlier question marks from the public and Dalts himself, and the bitter taste of a crushing defeat. It’s great news for AC35, as Team NZ continues to prove, year in and year out, that it’s the most credible of challengers. We’re guessing he won’t be on the boat this time, though Glenn Ashby has already re-upped and Dean Barker is a lifer. Meanwhile, Dalts continues his publicly lukewarm face on the VOR, claiming the $30M he estimates necessary to win might be impossible to find in the current economic climate. Then again, Dalts might just be pulling the old ‘negotiation by media’ option with VOR CEO Knut Frostad…
Pauly (on the) Shore
Doing it’s beat to leave the Paul Cayard-led disaster that was Artemis’ AC 34 effort, the team just announced that Nathan Outteridge and Iain “Goobs” Jensen are continuing with the team, which is currently preparing its bid for the 35th America’s Cup. More. no word which teams are beating down the door to pay way too much for Cayard’s incredible leadership skills.
World Series of Poke Her
The Bay Area Economic Council reported their final America’s Cup economic benefit analysis on Monday, with around $364 million in total economic impact landing in the area over the roughly 3 month period of the event. This is less than 30% of the original (and insane) $1.4B projection, and less than 40% of the revised $902M projection from March 2013 (and hopefully the City will tell ACEA to get fucked when they tote the same incompetent financial consultants to the table when negotiating the 2017 deal). With this crap news and the embarrassing ratings for the entire “Summer Of Sailing” and even the incredible AC final (outside of NZ), Coutts is already hedging against big expectations for AC35 in recent softball interviews.
“We’re considering having each of the teams host a World Series event”, Coutts told AC33 and 34 PR staffer Peter Rusch, who’s apparently playing reporter with Yachting World until his AC35 contract comes in. Coutts says this “would be great in terms of generating excitement in their home countries,” but let’s be serious: After dropping half the US military budget on incredible ACWS events, Russell is very clearly telling potential teams that they will be responsible for their own regattas in the future. It’s a shame, because the ACWS is the one part of the AC34 plan that provided awesome racing from beginning to end, and if OTUSA has the kind of massive advantage over AC35 challengers that we would have seen had they not had the big capsize, it might be the only exciting racing of the next Cup – especially if, as we have been hoping, the AC45s race as one-design platforms with unrestricted foils.
Thankfully Coutts cited a coming nationality rule, a welcome change to anyone (like us) who thinks patriotism and sport make great bedfellows. But he’s already preparing us for a small fleet, presumably because Ellison is shooting to keep the AC72 Class for AC35. “I think we are better to aim at quality rather than quantity,” he said, despite claiming that new cost reduction measures should cut overall team budgets by around a third. Call us cynical, but there’s no way in hell another AC72 program will magically cost 25-35 million less than the last time around, even if some one-design elements come into play and there is a joint logistics package. If there’s one thing that Russell Coutts has proved over and over again, it’s that he always wins, and it always costs a lot more than he says it will.
In our final bit of Cupdate news, longtime Kiwi Cup lawyer (and architect of Alinghi’s doomed CNEV challenge) Hamish Ross hit the news today after claiming in a piece in the NZ Law Journal last month that the New York Courts should have no place in deciding how the America’s Cup is run. Claiming that foreign litigants can’t get a fair shake in the US courts (mostly because he personally can’t seem to win one) Ross says that the Cup should be administered by ISAF instead. Because of course ISAF is so very impartial, and of course unmotivated by greed or the millions if fees they seek from the AC. Ross argues that the Deed of Gift and AC Trust are not even valid, and that they could perhaps be overturned by the Court if a strong plaintiff sued the current Trustee; it’s been Ross’s pet argument for a decade, and it’s quite persuasive, until you realize Ross’s theory rests on two centuries of hearsay, dicta, footnotes, quotes from irrelevant politicians, and courts of another country. It’s no wonder Ross can’t win a case in the US – even after all this time, he still doesn’t understand how precedent works here.
December 11th, 2013 by admin
Anyone remember a little AC program called Young Australia, skippered by an arrogant little ginger named Jimmy? It was a hell of a program. They didn’t win, but Syd Fischer’s program (managed in part by Iain Murray) helped fire up more talented young Aussies than any other sailing initiative could have. And now, according to an article in the Australian, Murray is back on track for another ‘young’ Cup challenger after being outbid by Oracle, ETNZ, and Artemis for Aussies Tom Slingsby, Nathan Outteridge, Glenn Ashby, and most likely Jimmy himself.
We know some of those boys used the Oatley-led challenge to bid up their own salaries with their respective expat team, and now after a couple of months of ‘silly season’, we’re guessing Murray’s just about had it with the ‘establishment’ Aussies; with the Cup more and more athletic, youth may be far more valuable than experience anyway. And with the Aussies Olympic talent and their near-dominance of the top end of the foiler moth fleet, there’s no shortage of talent down under.
More importantly, Murray is hopefully signaling the Oatleys’ intent to challenge for more than just one cycle, with AC35 more of a training exercise than a real bid for victory against the massive favorite Oracle Team Everywhere. One good practice run, and maybe they will really be ready to win.
December 10th, 2013 by admin
The incompetence of Paul Cayard and the silence of both he and Juan K in the wake of Artemis Racing’s horror show of an AC72 program nearly ruined the team’s name for many sailors. Only through the incredibly hard work of the team and the leadership of Iain Percy does Torborn Tornqvist’s team have any credibility left at all. Cayard is now a ghost, unseen in public for months. Taking over is Percy, and judging from his attitude and the early moves he’s putting in, Tornquist might actually have a credible challenge for the Cup on his hands.
Iain Percy: I wanted to sail a Moth and I asked my friend Adam May who works for Artemis Racing. He said I wasn’t allowed to sail it because I was too fat and I was going to break it. We are trying to find a solution to that with a different boat. We will do a lot of foiling in-house and that’s, obviously, the future of the America’s Cup. You see it everywhere, it is becoming the future of sailing as well. It is a real step change, it’s a cool feeling and it’s incredibly efficient.
However, the focus now for myself and Artemis Racing is to build a strong team, capable of winning and dominating the America’s Cup arena. That’s our goal, that’s Torbjörn’s goal. Artemis went through some very tough times last year and some real highs when we managed to race against all the odds. It’s time now to show we are a winning team, a serious, professional team that is going to win the next America’s Cup. That’s the team we are building right now, quietly, as we tend to do, not always to the pleasure of everyone else, including the press, but we get on with our business quietly, respectfully to all our competitors. This is the way Torbjörn likes it, the way he is as a man. We are very professional and with a real will to win.
VSail.info: I’d like to step back to the previous America’s Cup. Artemis Racing was one of the teams that started very early, as early as the fall of 2010, had ample resources and became the Challenger of Record. However, it suffered from a series of very serious setbacks that culminated with the unfortunate and tragic accident last May. In hindsight, looking back, what were the errors the team committed? What lessons did you draw so that you avoid repeating them in this America’s Cup?
Iain Percy: Huge lessons! To be fair, I think that all teams that did this new challenge for the first time learnt a lot and you learn from doing things badly. Like everyone else we learnt through both, through making mistakes. I wasn’t very involved until after the 2012 Olympics but I must say that in the final 6-8 months, because of guys like Bart, Nathan or Iain Jensen, the feeling in the camp was absolutely incredible. I have, personally, never worked in such a politics-free team, such a hard-working, driven team. Where we were for most of the time I experienced, there was very little wrong. We are now going to be one team, in one venue, concentrating on winning the America’s Cup. This is probably our central message.
VSail.info: In what regards the 34th America’s Cup as an event how would you assess it? What do you think were its strong points and where do you think it could be improved? Do you have any criticism regarding the organization, the format or what you personally think should be done?
Iain Percy: One thing I never doubted was that Larry’s and Russell’s vision, what they truly believed, was going to be the best for our sport and the best for the America’s Cup. I always supported that, I never was one of those cynics and, in the end, I think that the final product proved to be a step transformation for our sport. Finally, it was very appealing to the non-sailing public as well as the sailing public. Like we all learnt from our good and bad things, I’m sure the event will too. I think it’s clear that both on the safety side and the cost side, it would be good to increase safety and reduce costs, so that we have more teams.
VSail.info: This means you personally think there should be more teams. Isn’t the America’s Cup after all meant to be just for the Torbjörn Törnqvists and Larry Ellisons of the world?
Iain Percy: I think the America’s Cup will always be exclusive, it will always be the premiere event and it’s never going to be an event for the masses. This is clear, it never has been and never will be. This is precisely part of its appeal. For centuries we had the involvement of people like Sir Thomas Lipton and it’s always going to be the pinnacle and premiere. Just like Formula 1 or Premier League Football, it’s an expensive game. However, there is a balance. You can make it so exclusive that just one man in the world can afford it and you can go down to the Optimist level where you have hundreds and thousands of people.
I think that collectively, ourselves, Torbjörn and the other teams would like to see a few more teams involved. It doesn’t need to be a huge event, we want to keep it exclusive and we want to keep the “wow” factor in there and a few of the things that were breathtaking, not just on TV but also from the shore. I think that requires a certain boat size but for sure we support very much the efforts of Oracle and we are regularly communicating with them about cost, trying to get that balance just right. You want to keep the development element as much as possible, the excitement and the “wow” factor, that also comes from the development.
VSail.info: Everybody’s raging about foiling but, after all, it wouldn’t have existed if Emirates Team New Zealand hadn’t developed it!
Iain Percy: Absolutely and that’s another thing I have huge respect for them, having led the development side of that cycle, but there is a balance. We are trying to bring the costs down by 20-30% so that the next Cup can include a few more enthusiasts of our sport, companies and commercial partners, to join and make it slightly bigger.
VSail.info: That would also allow your buddy Ben Ainslie to find the adequate corporate funding and come in with a British team, wouldn’t it?
Iain Percy: That would be great. I’m really proud of what he’s trying to achieve. It takes a lot to take that on. He’s genuinely trying to be a businessman as well as a successful sailor. Whether he succeeds or not takes nothing away from the effort he’s putting in, which I think is fantastic for the sport. He’s a huge name for our sport, he’s a good friend but also incredible competitor. It takes personalities like him to take our sport beyond its traditional public and as a result, I really support what he’s doing. I talk to him regularly and I wish him very well with that.
VSail.info: If at the end, unfortunately, he’s unable to come up with the necessary funding for the British team, will you hire him for Artemis Racing?
Iain Percy: We are currently building a team independent of that, we have to. Myself and Ben are pretty open with each other that we don’t need to play games with each other, after knowing him for 30 years. We at Artemis Racing need to build a team that is capable of winning and dominating the Cup arena. We are going ahead doing that.
November 22nd, 2013 by admin
The KNSV – the Netherlands’ governing body for sailing – finally sat down to review the AC jury’s findings on Oracle Team USA king post sensation Dirk “Cheese” De Ridder last week, and in a move that surprised precisely no one, they recommended no further punishment for Holland’s highest paid sail trimmer. You’ll recall the AC Jury found De Ridder a terrible witness, and in their findings, seemed convinced he was lying to them. From the findings: ”The Jury is comfortably satisfied that:
1) Dirk gave the instruction to add the weight to the kind post;
2) Dirk knew the weight had been added;
3) Dirk knew it was a breach of the rules; and
4) Dirk did not tell the truth in the hearing in this regard.”
It seems as thought he KNSV didn’t actually conduct their own hearing; they felt that ‘investigating’ the AC Jury’s report was plenty, and they decided poor Dirk had been penalized enough. From their report:
The Zeilraad further considered that being excluded from further participation in any role in the 34 America’s Cup for a gross breach of a rule and of good sportsmanship, combined with the world wide publicity on TV/radio, Internet and newspapers, is by itself, a severe penalty. Having considered all evidence the Zeilraad finds that it is not appropriate to impose an additional penalty.
After this investigation the Zeilraad finds that it is not appropriate to conduct a hearing and decides that no further action will be taken in this matter by the Dutch MNA.
Gilles Martin-Raget photo.
October 28th, 2013 by admin
While the sailing world continues to gab about the on-water Greenpeace protest of the Gazprom-sponsored 100 foot Reichel-Pugh Esimit Europa in last weekend’s Barcolana, facts continue to roll in. Most interestingly, the Jochen Schumann-skippered enviro-disaster just broke the top 5 meters of her rig off during at attempt on the Trieste-Malta record (apparently, someone keeps track of this shit). As of this morning they still were unable to get the mainsail released, and they have now pulled out of next week’s Rolex Middle Sea Race, where they took line honors for the last three years.
Is karma catching up to the boat sponsored by one of today’s great enviro-villains? The more we look, the nastier Gazprom appears, and not just for their part in the Russian special ops-team arrest of 30 protestors in the Arctic.
Exhibit 1: After Belgian racing website ClubRacer ran an editorial wondering about the propriety of Gazprom’s title sponsorship of the newly ISAF-ized Swan 60 Class, they were allegedly contacted by Europol and threatened by other parties to stop criticizing the gas giant. They also say multiple attempts to hack their website began the same week. We love ClubRacer’s response to what is fairly typical thuggery from a major corporation; they write “We will not stop criticizing until a decapitated horse’s head is found in our bed.”
Exhibit 2: Somehow, the Gazprom Swan 60 Class held a World Championship this year, being named an ISAF International Class. That’s a 5-boat World Championship, for those of you counting. Remember when ISAF actually required a Class to have a substantial international makeup before being granted the right to hold a World Championship? Apparently, they no longer give a shit about what that means, or maybe that gassy money is more than sufficient to keep them from caring? Does ISAF think the Gazprom Swan 60 World Championship fleet fulfills everything about a Worlds they’ve fought so hard to define? We don’t know that, but we do know that something smells pretty awful, and it ain’t natural gas.
Exhibit 3: Unlike the Esimit Europa project, which only races their maxi at events where she is guaranteed line honors,the aforementioned title sponsorship of the Gazprom Swan 60 Class puts the world’s biggest natural gas producer in the limelight at some of Europe’s biggest regattas. Given the nearly universal effort by sailing’s stakeholders — events, teams, classes, manufacturers, National Associations, sponsorship seekers — to associate the sport with clean energy and green growth, this could force a huge step backwards for the sport’s image. The logo is burning gas, for chrissakes! Does ISAF and the pile of major regattas they have scheduled really want to see all that work ruined by associating the top level of sailing with a company with this kind of enironmental and human rights record? Maybe if they get another big check…
Exhibit 4: Persistent rumors say Gazprom is on the verge of funding an America’s Cup team. It would be a drop in the bucket for a company that supplies half the world with fuel, and sources say either Igor Simcic (the head of the Esimit program) or Vladimir Liubomirov (recently entered in the RC-44 circuit) would run the program. In either case, can you imagine the protests when the Gazprom foiler comes to San Francisco? While we appreciate irony as much as anyone, no one looking out for the Cup, the sponsors, or the sport wants to see the Gazprom flame logo flying right in front of the Sailors for the Sea banners.
While everyone hates to turn down real money from a new sponsor to the sport, we urge anyone considering a Gazprom deal to consider the long term damage to your brand, your association, and the sport. It’s not like Greenpeace will forget, and whether you disagree with their politics or not, this sport can ill afford the kind of scandal that a Gazprom in the AC or any major event could bring.
What do you think? Share it here.
October 17th, 2013 by admin