Front Rudder - May 2019

The Ramifications of Ruminations

As San Francisco prepares to host its first SailGP event, courtesy of Mr. Larry Ellison and Mr. Russell Coutts, rumblings continue to ruminate about the viability of 3 of the potential challengers for the next America′s Cup. But as Auld Mug ′36 stumbles out of the gate, SailGP is ready to roar with rebooted AC50′s, save the fastest one, which probably is a museum piece by now.

As gossip and rumors abound which serves as little more than just fueling the fodder fire for the internet trolls on social media, many questions remain unanswered in the build up to the next America′s Cup in March of 2021 in Auckland, New Zealand.

Unfortunately, as New Zealand continues to reel in the face of that unspeakable tragedy, it is time for the pettiness of all concerned to be put aside and allow that tiny island nation to put on a show we all want and deserve; because for them, as all is not right in the world right now, but as their unflappable leader has said in an effort to comfort her nation “they are us.” Well stated Jacinda Ardern.

The America′s Cup community and America specifically has an opportunity to show the planet that this sport, above all others, the one that is the oldest continuous sporting events in the world that the inclusiveness of all nations and all teams is paramount for a prosperity of good feeling and will.

So, who′s in and who′s out? When is money due? Now or later? What is to be believed and really, right now what does it matter? As far as timelines for deposits down and supposed deadlines, goal posts have been moved so many times the money will probably never be due or have to be paid, just as long as 6 teams hit the starting line for the Christmas regatta in 2020, which serves as the official start of the next America′s Cup presented by Prada.

With some incendiary claims by New Zealand TV 3News on its prime time news bulletin that “half of the boats challenging for the America′s Cup will not make it to the start line in 2021,” everyone from the teams affected, to Emirates Team New Zealand themselves, hit the airwaves in a state of panic shooting down the reports as quickly as they were out there in an attempt to inflict damage control in what is already a more than shaky rollout for AC 36. This led to an immediate statement from Long Beach Yacht Club regarding Stars + Stripes USA that the team has not withdrawn from the America′s Cup and has no plans to do so.  

In addition to continuing its preparations for AC36, the Stars + Stripes Team is racing in the 55th Congressional Cup.

Racing alongside team co-founder Taylor Canfield as part of his co-ed team will be Sally Barkow, George Peet, Jesse Fielding, Ben Bardwell and Stars + Stripes Team member Mike Buckley as tactician.

LBYC leadership along with Stars + Stripes Team leaders Mike Buckley and Taylor Canfield have doubled down on their all-American challenge and will continue to push to the end. The team has made structural changes recently and Mike Buckley will be becoming the CEO of the team. In addition, the team has recruited additional top-flight America′s Cup management, marketing and fundraising talent, including some from Dennis Conner′s victorious Stars & Stripes 87 Team, to join the team and its advisory board.

“The Stars + Stripes Team and LBYC have redoubled their commitment-to-the-commitment, as Dennis Conner was fond of saying, inspiring his Stars & Stripes 87 team to its victory down under,” said Mike Buckley, Skipper SSUSA.

“What Mike and Taylor have created has resonated with the American sailing population. We are seeing this first hand here within the community of Long Beach,” said Camille Daniels, Commodore LBYC.

The 3News item claimed they had reports from multiple sources. However, they had not approached any of the teams directly. It really stinks that the LBYC must defend their Cup program in this way, this week while they play host to the world for their prestigious Congressional Cup.

DutchSail issued a media statement the day before; saying that while they were under pressure to put together funding for the Challenge, “The currents had gained momentum in the past days and we are not giving up. We are waiting for our leads to get back to us and we feel unbelievably motivated to bring DutchSail to the next phase.”

Eelco Blok, general manager DutchSail, “We started in November with a backlog, and we are working hard to make up lost ground. It will be incredibly exciting to put together the funding. We are facing killer deadlines, but as long as there are chances, we won′t give up.” Simeon Tienpont states that the main pressure is on the planning and construction of the boat, and on building the team. “We have to get down to work with the boat and the team; we cannot delay any longer. We need to take to the water.”

For the first time in the 167-year history of the Auld Mug a 75-foot monohull with a canting foil will make the boat fly over the water on a single hydrofoil at speeds up to 50 miles per hour.

A spokesman for the Malta Altus Challenge representing the Royal Malta YC states that the team was not in a position to issue a statement due to the absence of the team principal Pasquale Cataldi, who is in Russia following a death in the family and according to rumors may have lost interest in pursuing the Auld Mug.

The plans for the 36th America′s Cup are progressing with clearer guidelines now set for the future. Following on from meetings held in Auckland an agreement has been reached to resolve a series of issues in the best interest of the event.

Patrizio Bertelli, CEO of the Prada Group and Chairman of the Challenger of Record met with the Defender, Emirates Team New Zealand, in Auckland and an agreement was reached to resolve several pending issues, some of which were already before the Arbitration Panel.

There are now over 600 people working on the $212 million project. Separate projects are underway despite the design work only being 70% complete as of the end of February, and with some further resource consents required as a result of the redesign work, along with variations on some of the existing conditions.

Wynyard Point is the major area of activity, with the fuel and hazardous substance tanks removed and the former ASB carpark taken over, with the land becoming the actual area that will be occupied by the three double bases and two single bases. Renovation of the 100-year-old Wynyard Wharf is a major piece of work as it will be the area the team cranes will be located to launch the AC75′s. Instead of the entire area between Brigham Street and the Wharf being infilled and turned into flat deck, a series of five bridges (one for each base) will be built across the gap. This is partially to satisfy heritage issues and to save money. The bridges will be removed after the America′s Cup.

Another change will be the collection of race boat wash which will be collected and treated rather than being discharged into the harbor. Some changes have been made to the breakwaters and additional wave panels are being installed around the existing Hobson Wharf to reduce water movement mainly from passing boat wakes.

ETNZ moved into their base in the Viaduct Events Center last October, and work started soon afterwards to convert it from an Exhibition center to an AC75 base with other facilities.

The arbitration settlement clears the way for the Defender and CoR to continue to work progressively on planning for the event between now and the end of the event in March 2021.

“We welcomed Mr. Bertelli and his team to Auckland and appreciated his positive engagement to the event. We share an overarching desire for this event in 2021, as well as all lead up events, to be remembered as the best America′s Cup ever,” said ETNZ CEO, Grant Dalton.

“It is no secret there have been some outstanding issues that needed to be resolved, but the fact that Mr. Bertelli took the time to personally come down to Auckland is testament of the mutual respect between us, which bodes well for the event in general. The path is therefore now clear for the late entries to continue building their respective campaigns to try to participate and the Defender and CoR will give whatever support they can,” continued Dalton.

Mr. Bertelli and Dalton also met with the Hon David Parker and Mayor of Auckland, Phil Goff to discuss the plans for the event and presented Mr. Bertelli′s vision for the America′s Cup village which were well received and details of which will be released in due course.

“It was an honor and a pleasure to meet the Hon David Parker MP and Mayor Goff, to share our vision for the Event Village of 36th America′s Cup. This time spent in Auckland was very important for me to understand how to best integrate our event with the New Zealand culture and with its unique waterfront. It sends a strong signal of friendship and cooperation for the months to come,” said Bertelli.

On April 1 the recently accepted challengers were required to pay the first installment of their late entry fee of $250,000. Then at the end of April, they were to lodge another million-dollar performance bond.

There are four major components to the fees which begin to fall due on the Ides of March, first and second installment of the regular entry fee, a million per installment and the performance bond of a million, and a late entry fee (for those entering after June 30, 2018) of another million bucks.

SailGP Arrives
At Our Gate

Which leads us back to an event which has its “foils” in the water and is expected to land on our shores for the second regatta the first week in May; SailGP. SailGP on U.S. waters is expected to break sailing′s elusive 50-knot barrier (60 mph) when its six supercharged F50s take flight on San Francisco Bay.

SailGP will bring the all new on-water racing spectacular to San Francisco May 4th and 5th, marking the second event in the championship′s 2019 inaugural racing calendar, and its first ever grand prix in the United States. In San Francisco, the US SailGP Team is comprised of world-class sailors from across the country and will assume center stage as they take on five rival teams from Australia, China, France, Great Britain and Japan. All six teams will race in identical, supercharged 50-foot foiling catamarans at speeds that have never been seen before in sail racing.

Racing will take place just off the Marina Yacht Club Peninsula in the heart of San Francisco Bay, with the stunning Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island as a backdrop. Competing in a total of five short-format fleet races, the top two teams will face off in a match race finale to determine the event winner on Sunday afternoon.

The US SailGP Team is comprised of Rome Kirby, 29, of Newport, Rhode Island (helmsman); Taylor Canfield, 30, of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands (flight controller/tactician); Riley Gibbs, 22, of Long Beach, California (wing trimmer); Hans Henken, 26, of Coronado, California (flight controller); Mac Agnese, 24, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida (grinder); and Dan Morris, 31, of Edina, Minnesota (grinder).

“Sailing on F50s is going to be awesome in San Francisco,” said Kirby. “We all love the city, especially for the opportunities that it presents for high-level sailing. With the right conditions, we should break the 50-knot mark and that will be a major, groundbreaking moment for the sport. The natural race track that the San Francisco Bay is providing us to sail on is unreal.”

The San Francisco SailGP Race Village is a free-to-the-public event, with two ticketed options available to enhance the SailGP experience. The SailGP Race Village Plus package offers in-demand tickets for access to a shore-side area with spectacular front-row viewing, live race coverage and commentary and refreshments available for purchase.

“San Francisco is a beautiful place and holds its own iconic status in sailing. The crowds viewing the racing are going to love it, and we are going to love it too,” said Morris. “To be able to sail in our home country, in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge, and with views of the Marin headlands, is quite a special experience, and we all consider it a true privilege.”

SailGP announced a partnership with Red and White Fleet, San Francisco′s leading Bay cruise operator, as the exclusive provider of on-water experiences for families, individuals and corporate guests. Exclusive ticketed experiences will be offered on the Red and White Fleet′s newest vessels, the Zalophus and the Enhydra, with both spectator boats having prime viewing position within the race zone, guaranteeing the closest viewing of the action, as well as complimentary food and beverage.

SailGP is sailing redefined. Established in 2018 and headquartered in London and San Francisco, SailGP is an annual, global sports championship featuring bold, cutting-edge technology and awe-inspiring athleticism. The fan-centric, inshore racing takes place in some of the most iconic harbors around the globe and culminates with a $1 million winner-takes-all match race. Rival national teams from Australia, China, France, Great Britain, Japan and the United States battle it out in identical supercharged F50 catamarans, engineered for intense racing at electrifying speeds exceeding 50 knots (nearly 60 mph/100 kph). Visit for more information.

SailGP, the new global championship featuring the world′s fastest race boats, will rely on Oracle Cloud to deliver real-time data to racing teams and fans alike. The information derived from 1,200 sensors placed on the supercharged F50 catamarans and the athletes, plus onboard cameras and microphones, will bring viewers closer to the action, help teams analyze their performance and give remote umpires the details they need to make calls with confidence.

Taking advantage of Oracle Cloud′s security and unmatched performance, approximately 20 megabytes of information-rich data will be streamed to SailGP′s onshore base from each of the six boats and be made available to teams, fans and umpires within 200 milliseconds.

Coaches will analyze the data to monitor the teams′ health and performance to aid strategic and tactical decisions throughout the race. The F50s are a one-design class, so each national team competes on an identical boat. Therefore, races will be decided by the skill and performance of the crew. Any improvements teams can make based on the data could be the difference between winning and losing each race, or the final $1million prize.

“With SailGP, we really want to push the boundary of what is possible in the sport and create a dramatic live spectacle both on and off the water,” said SailGP CEO Russell Coutts. “Oracle′s infrastructure, data management, analytics and security make it the perfect partner to deliver this vision and we can′t wait to see how the data will enhance the sport for fans, teams and race management.”

“SailGP is the future of sailing,” said Judy Sim, Oracle senior vice president and chief marketing officer. “With Oracle Cloud instantly delivering data and information to viewers, teams and race management, the fan experience will be unrivaled, and the competition will be fierce.”

The teams will be sailing a F50, a revolutionary new concept in sailboat racing. It is a showcase of cutting-edge technology developed over the past 10 years.

Powered by a 24-meter wingsail and flying above the water on hydrofoils, the F50 marks a huge step forward. The new upgrades are expected to produce a 15 percent performance gain across most racing conditions compared to the AC50 class of 2017.

“The most nerve-wracking moment is probably an hour beforehand when you′ve got time to yourself,” says Kyle Langford, wing-trimmer for the Australian team. “But ten seconds before the start it′s game face and we′re completely focused on the task at hand.”

The entire fleet has been extensively modified with new foils and board cases, new rudders and elevators, new hydraulics and electronics, a new cockpit layout for five crew, a new steering system and a new flight control system operated by a joy stick. The beam fairings and systems have been refined to allow more efficient pack up and assembly.

The foil rake, wing twist and jib sheet adjustments will be powered by battery, making it possible for them to be adjusted by at least three crew members. The wing sheet adjustment will be powered manually by the two grinders. Rudder pitch will be actively controlled allowing the trim/attitude of the boat to be set irrespective of the ride height. The new foils are constructed with higher modulus carbon fiber and the geometry has been modified to promote more righting moment and increase the boat speed prior to the onset of cavitation. The lower section of the rudders is manufactured in high strength stainless steel to reduce drag.

The new wing sails will be constructed with a new geometry and control systems, improving performance at both ends of the wind spectrum. The aim is to be able to effectively conduct competitive racing in wind speeds from 4-30 knots.

For light wind sailing, studies are also being performed to analyze the performance gains of dynamic wingsail control systems. However, unlike most one-design classes, the F50 remains open to development. Top designers and engineers will constantly improve and evolve the boats to increase their performance and ensure they remain cutting edge. Ideas and designs will be tested and then implemented on each boat at the same time, ensuring each improvement is applied equally across the fleet, making the racing faster and more competitive.

On-board cameras will deliver point-of-view racing while on-board microphones will give race fans the sensation, they are on the race boat, as they listen in on the winning tactical calls.

All data recorded from all boats will be transmitted to the team coaches who will be able to analyze the data and communicate with their crews at pre-determined times during a race. These communications will be broadcast giving spectators a greater appreciation of the reasons why one crew may be outperforming another.

The shared data will also be used to create a unique second-screen experience where fans will be able to select up to two teams to follow and receive key performance data from their boats. All of this will be integrated into the most fan-friendly and informative race broadcast the sport has ever produced.

Crucially, the F50 catamarans can be disassembled and transported between venues in standard 40-foot shipping containers. The boats can be assembled and readied for racing in each venue within 48 hours of arrival at the event village.

Tom Slingsby led the Australian team to victory in SailGP′s inaugural event, but the talented young American team battled hard against the best sailors in the world as they raced in Sydney Harbor and is bringing home valuable lessons to prepare for their American debut in San Francisco.

“This (Sydney, Australia) was our first regatta as a team,” said Rome Kirby, US SailGP helmsman. “It was definitely tough. In this fleet, if you make any mistakes you end up in the back. Obviously, we are frustrated, but there is also plenty we did well and there is plenty we can take away from here. We just need to keep battling.”

Throughout the weekend′s races, Kirby and the team had many positive moments that demonstrated the potential this team must quickly improve. “Many times, we were right in the mix, and it easily could have been a different outcome,” he said.

The United States SailGP Team is the youngest squad in the new professional sailing championship. The other teams from Australia, China, France, Great Britain and Japan have a mix of athletes who have both raced together and spent considerable time in this class of boat.

“As a team we have a lot to learn about the boat yet and about how best to work together as a team,” Kirby said. “This is an incredibly tough boat to sail and we will take all the learnings from this event to improve together. The ingredients are all here.”

“I think people will be amazed regardless if they understand sailing or not. Imagine six boats flying over the water at 60 mph and jockeying for position to all be first around each mark of the course. No one, sailors or spectators, has ever experienced or watched these incredible speeds before in sailboat racing. Exciting will be an understatement,” exclaims Kirby.

“This team is a great group of extremely talented sailors, whom I′ve raced with or against many times,” said Canfield. “The SailGP concept is incredible and what this sport has needed for a long time. To be racing at the top level of the sport, at extreme speeds against the best in the world, I can′t wait.”

The American squad is extremely talented with members Agnese, Gibbs and Henken currently campaigning in hopes to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

SailGP has also announced an exclusive long-term global partnership with Rolex that designates the Swiss watchmaker as Presenting Partner and Official Timepiece for the new global sports championship setting out to redefine sailing. Rolex timepieces and clocks will be visible throughout all SailGP events.

“We are delighted to partner with Rolex, which shares our passion for performance, precision, excellence and innovation,” said SailGP CEO Russell Coutts. “Rolex crafts impeccable timepieces with a long history of dynamic international sports properties. We′re proud to join their amazing stable of partnerships alongside some of the world′s most iconic and long-standing brands.”

Rolex has a long heritage with sailing, including sponsorship of the World Sailor of the Year Award, an honor currently held by Marie Riou of the France SailGP Team, and previously won by Tom Slingsby (AUS, 2010) and Coutts (1995, 2003).

“SailGP marks an evolution in yachting and enables Rolex to further strengthen its 60-year relationship with the sport,” said Arnaud Boetsch, Rolex communication and image director. “As a brand, we have always appreciated endeavors and sporting disciplines that combine the highest levels of technology with the most talented individuals. SailGP meets such a vision, while the art of foiling perfectly illustrates the sport′s constant desire to innovate and improve efficiency, objectives that align with Rolex′s own quest for perpetual excellence, in all its activities. As the Official Timepiece, we are delighted to be associated with an event that demands precision, excellence and performance from sailors and their boats.”

See you soon. Write me at www.mark@yachtsmanmaga I′m bored! H

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