Kyle Langford, the wing trimmer on Oracle Team USA when it won the America's Cup in 2013, is mainsail trimmer on Oman Air at the Extreme Series in Cardiff. In an exclusive interview with mysailing, he talked about the Extreme 40s and Oracle's progress towards defending the Cup in 2017.
The Cardiff Act is Kyle's third on board the Oman Air Extreme 40 and he said it's a great experience that translates directly to America's Cup sailing.
“It's quite similar to the America's Cup World Series (in AC45s) in many ways,” he said. “It's fast paced and very physical and you're making instant decisions because of the close racing.
“There hasn't been a lot on as far as Oracle is concerned, just a foiling camp at Lake Macquarie recently, so this (the Extreme Series) has been good.”
Kyle will sail for the rest of the Extreme season, including the final Act in Sydney in December, and has also done an RC44 regatta with team mate Tom Slingsby, but from the beginning of 2015 the focus becomes totally on the America's Cup.
“We've all bought Moths and we'll do another foiling camp in San Francisco in November with the aim of all competing at the Moth Worlds in February,” Kyle said. “Apart from Tom (Slingsby) we're all pretty useless, so we've got a bit of work to do.”
He said that the Moth was a good challenge because it was all about balance and they were learning new skills which would be of value in the bigger boats. It was also proving to be a good team-building exercise as they all help each other to improve their boat set-up and handling.
Kyle joined the Oracle squad late – only 18 months before the 34th Match – and most of the wing development on the AC72 had already been done. So he is looking forward to the development of the new AC62 because he will have input into the trimming systems from day one.
“The wings are one design but the control systems are open,” he explained. “It's good to be able to offer input into the design of all the systems on the boat. Last time all I could really do was fine-tune, because the actual controls were already decided.”
One of the notable things about the two design approaches on the AC72s was that the challenger and defender had radically different methods of controlling the four “panels” on their wings, but the speed result was similar.
“If Glenn (Ashby) had trimmed the Oracle wing and I had trimmed the ETNZ wing, we both would have had to work things out all over again, because they were so different,” Kyle said.
Asked about the teams who have lodged challenges for 2017, Kyle said there was a lot of depth and that none of them could be written off.
“We always know Team New Zealand will be strong and Luna Rossa have started a lot earlier this time and have their base set up. Ben's got a good team and the French have done a lot of sailing in all sorts of boats. And then there's Artemis with Nath (Outteridge) – no-one's going to be easy this time.”
Kyle said that the Oracle sailing team is almost complete, with just one more name to be added to give them two AC45 squads. He thinks a key ingredient for Oracle will be their total focus on the America's Cup for three years, without distractions like the Olympics, which will come into play for teams like Artemis (Outteridge and Jensen) and ETNZ (Burling and Tuke).
“We will be 100% focussed on the Cup for the whole three years,” he said, sounding an ominous warning to the challengers.
- Roger McMillan