Recently the teams who have signed up to contest the 35th America's Cup in Bermuda voted to reduce the size of the catamaran to be sailed in that event. Subsequently, Luna Rossa withdrew from the Cup and Team New Zealand has also come out publicly against the move. However, Artemis Racing was a strong supporter. The Team Manager, Olympic gold medallist Iain Percy, spoke exclusively with Kimberley Wilmot at the Sydney Sailboat Expo:
Iain Percy shows full support for the move to the AC48 saying it will keep the cost down and help new teams, mostly from Asia, join the fight for the Cup. He was in Manly to check out the Sydney Sailboat Expo and catch up with a few mates.
“Artemis Racing and myself we are in support of trying to make the barriers to entry go away. As much as the cost of the last Cup and the way this one was going, it's the sheer scale of the engineering challenge that really would put off an owner.
“There are a couple of teams that will be joining now from Asia. Frankly it wasn't a financial barrier (that prevented them in the past) it was 'where do I start with this huge engineering challenge without the world expertise?'.”
But that doesn't mean the change of boat hasn't affected the Swedish team.
“I know we say we are in support of the change but we had put a lot of effort in and built a team around the 62 footer and were very well advanced with that. So there are hard transitions for us as a team for sure. But we feel very strongly we have an excellent sailing team led by a couple of Aussies (Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen). We have some very very smart guys on the design side from Oracle and Team New Zealand from the last campaign so I think we are in good shape.”
Luna Rossa and the Kiwis
With the teams having already started designing their AC62 and built their teams around the idea of a larger boat, there was bound to be some upset. While the news that Luna Rossa is has pulled out of the Cup may not have been too much of a surprise for some, it certainly wasn't what anyone wanted.
“Luna Rossa is a real shame to see. For me I think of the people that are within the team. I know the many sailors, designers and builders within that team so most importantly I feel for them. You've put… it's not just your job it's like an Olympic campaign… it's your heart and soul, so that is brutal.”
But when it comes to the Kiwis threats, he isn't so convinced. It is public knowledge that they are not happy with the changes made recently but they were in support a year ago.
“I think they will be alright, it's a difficult one. We never know how much it is a 'cry wolf'. They have done well with that technique in the past. Ultimately they were one of the teams who was most in support of the smaller boat, ironically given they are saying otherwise now.
“There were only three of us that voted for the smaller boat only a year ago. Other people have changed their minds now but the Kiwis were part of that. So I think they have always been in support of the smaller boat and ultimately it is about cutting costs so that should support them to be part of it. They have a very strong team and I am sure they will be there and be a real threat.”
Future of the AC
Since the 34th America's Cup there has been a lot of question about how to build the competition and get more teams involved. One of the biggest problems has been the cost of a campaign. We saw this with the AC World Series and the Louis Vuitton Cup. While there was a strong line up for the World Series, only three moved on for the real prize, the Auld Mug.
“In the long run if we can maintain sticking to one boat like they did from the IACC boats for about five cycles, I think that's the secret to getting the number of entries up. You can buy a second hand boat and get started to build your new boat the year before and I think that's going to work really well for the future.”
– Kimberley Wilmot – Editor Australian Sailing + Yachting