Now that the big money is locked in for Bermuda’s contract, it appears the America’s Cup is looking to cut their expenses massively by getting rid of the entire AC62 concept, sticking instead with modified AC45 foilers for all teams. And no, this is not April 1; AC PR released this bit of news today: “The existing operational costs of teams is much too high with a boat like the AC62.”
Let’s revisit the timing on all this; it has been 19 months since Oracle won AC34, and almost a year since the AC62 rule was announced. And apparently, the folks at ACEA are just now figuring out how much it’s gonna cost. We honestly had to check the date when we first saw this release, because it seems like a joke. Then again, this joke is brought to you by the same folks who’ve been delivering great ones for the past two years, though we have to think that Bermuda ain’t laughing.
While it could be negotiation-by-press-release, it seems real enough, but we can’t believe anyone thinks the AC45 will make a successful America’s Cup. Running an AC in the visually much smaller (compared to an AC62) AC45s will absolutely destroy whatever spectacle the Bermudians and Cup lovers were hoping for; the thousands of you who’ve seen an Extreme 40 event know what kind of impact a 40-foot cat makes, and it just ain’t much unless you’re a couple hundred feet away or less. On TV, the AC45 foilers will look great, but for sailors and AC enthusiasts – and let’s face it, AC34 view counts and ratings proved that’s the audience now – a 45-footer will simply be too close to what’s already out there to generate real interest. The Extreme 40 has a bigger fleet, and Alinghi, still one of the best-known teams in professional sailing – just joined the foiling GC32 show. The M32 is growing as well. And a 45 foot cat is really America’s Cup-worthy?
Worse even than the loss of the spectacle is the fact that the shrinking of the boat will mark the final admission that the America’s Cup will never again be the pinnacle of yacht racing. They tried, and for a few short years, the Cup truly had some of the world’s fastest inshore sailboats. But the AC45s won’t be the fastest at anything, because in sailing, size matters. The reason a Formula 1 car is tiny is because small is fast. In sailing, it’s the opposite. Doc Harvey pretending the speed of the 45-footer ‘is expected to be similar to what was achieved in the last America’s Cup’ is just plain silly, and yet another example of an AC promise that will fail to materialize. The AC45 foilers are very cool boats. They’re slower, cheaper, easier to handle, and safer than AC62s. But here’s the thing: If you’re gonna do it in slower, cheaper, easier, safer boats, why not just do it in GC32s? If you follow Doc Harvey’s logic, there’s no reason to sail the 45 when you can sail the ‘similarly fast’ smaller boat.
Interestingly, the announcement says the deal ain’t done yet, and Luna Rossa is missing from the list of team quotes giving half-hearted support for the change. Maybe Patrizio Bertelli feels the millions they’ve spent to design their AC62 already (and millions more on salaries for dozens of sailors working toward that goal) shouldn’t be thrown away to let in teams without the resources to compete? As far as we can tell, the entire advantage LR has been working so hard for these past two years will be wiped away the moment this change is agreed to during next week’s meetings.
Also missing from the endorsing quotes is anyone from Bermuda, where the change to AC45s will probably be rationalized by the fact that the AC eventually has their way with every municipality. Someone might want to bring the island a bandage; we see a little blood dripping from its ass…
As we said a couple of months ago, we’ve given up our expectations, and we’ve quit criticizing the AC for their move to Bermuda; we’re just looking forward to a fun regatta for fast boats. It might be a little tougher to see them, if the GGYC has their way…