Wednesday, 4 June 2014

New America’s Cup Protocol

The AC 35 will be sailed on 62 ft foiling catamarans and the AC45 will still be used for the AC series. The AC 45 will probably be updated to a foiler in 2016.
The AC 34 attracted only four teams while the intention was to create a business model in which teams could be economically viable.
With the AC 35 the AC returns to its roots and seems to have accepted that it will be a billionaires game once again.
So far 4 teams are ready to participate: Oracle, the defender, team Australia the Challenger, Artemis and Prada. Team New Zealand might be absent this time, an official statement of the team is expected later this week.
The choice for the AC 45 is understandable as most teams already own these boats but on the other hand it would make sense to use a 32 footer like the GC 32 which is much easier to operate. Starting with a non foiling AC 45 will make the AC series irrelevant despite the obligation for the teams to participate in the series.
The crew on the AC 62 is reduced to 8. Nothing is yet known about the possibility to use stored power.
Using a smaller boat will not lead to a too significant cost reduction as the teams seem to be willing to spend whatever it takes and the building costs of the boats are just a fraction of the total budget.
In the AC 34 teams were very limited in what they could do with the foils and the foil systems. I expect that active foils are permitted this time but the opposite may be true also.
The AC 34 changed the sport and the finals were sensational.
If the teams are free to take the AC 62 to a new level interesting things may happen. If the development is too restricted the AC 62's will be just smaller AC 72's.
The organizers have eliminated any influence of the ISAF which is understandable but the ISAF may strike back by excluding competitors from their events.  This will effect both AC and Olympic sailing.

Last cup only the first AC 45 events and the final were successful. Better keep it simple and skip the AC world series and just have one challenger event and the final. I like to see the AC sailors in other events too. It was special to see Jimmy, Dean and others sail A-class events. By participating in regular events they create a bridge between the Cup and the rest of us sailors. The AC was less of a bubble, but I fear that we will see the return of the AC bubble, where the AC gets pretty loose from the rest of the sport, despite all intentions of Larry.

The A-class is still the best training platform for any AC skipper. All ETNZ sailors at the A-cat Worlds told others that flying the A-cat is harder then flying the big beast. The lack of inherent stability makes it more subtle and more refined. Flying an A-cat is not that hard but to get everything out of it sure is. Larry is an excellent sailor himself it would be great to see him on a flying A-cat too.

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