Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa, Mea Maxima Culpa. Yes I know that’s a Christian (Catholic?) saying but I got it from the Jimmy Buffet song ‘Fruitcakes’. It basically means, ‘I was wrong.’
And I was wrong.
I wrote an article a few years ago about how ridiculous I thought that the new America’s Cup designs were. They were going back to monohulls when I was a huge fan of multihulls. I thought that the AC72 catamarans were just awesome, and I might have said at the time, well in fact I did say at the time, that the new AC monohulls looked like a dog taking a piss.
I got some hell for my article and in fact, got a call from a New Zealand sports talk show asking me to come on and explain myself. The host gave me a hard time. It was a Saturday morning show and my brother, who lives in Auckland, caught it purely by chance. He told me later that the calls that came in after my interview were 10:1 against me.
Maybe they knew something that I didn’t. My point was this. There had been a clamor for the days of old when the 12-meters used to have tacking duels up the windward leg, the boat in the lead slam-covering the boat behind. I understand longing. I long for the days when I first circumnavigated back when the world was flat, but things have moved on since then, sailing too. I really did circumnavigate back when the world was flat. It was in ’81.
With the multihulls, it was pretty much bang a corner, both upwind and downwind, and hope that you had picked the right side of the course. The longing for the old days when you tacked on each shift were long gone. Modern yachts, especially those that foil, sail faster than the wind so no need to worry about a two-degree wind shift.
Here is why I am Mea Culparing (if that’s even a word) myself. I have been watching a lot of footage of the newest AC40 monohulls and they are really elegant pieces of modern design. I love that they are sculpted to fly, rather than sail and other than the occasional nosedive and capsize they seem to manage things pretty well. What I most like about them is that the designers and engineers are pushing sailing forward. There is definitely still room for traditional yachts, my own inclination is toward a Friendship Sloop, but every step of knowledge that’s gained by pushing the edges eventually trickles down to the rest of us average sailors.
I am reminded of the first roller furling units. They were viewed with a jaundiced eye until the solo-sailing community embraced them and proved that they could go the distance, the distance being around the world non-stop. Now it’s rare to see any boat without one. So I applaud Grant Dalton and his team for their vision and look forward to the next America’s Cup. A regatta of flying yachts.
Do we call it a regatta or a squadron? – Brian Hancock