BMW Oracle Racing’s CEO Russell Coutts set out much of the thinking behind the changes to the America’s Cup.
After the announcement of the Year, Boat and Protocol for the 2013 America's Cup, in Valencia, BMW Oracle Racing's CEO answered questions from an international media panel via a teleconference.
Participating in the call were: Tati Porkony - DPA & Welt - Germany; Isabelle Musy - Le Temps;
John Cote - San Francisco Chronicle - city reporter; Carl Nolte - San Francisco Chronicle;
Paul Oliva - San Francisco Chronicle - on the water reporter; Rob Grant - Latitude 38;
Eric Young - San Francisco Business Journal; Michelle Slade - Marin Independent; Richard Gladwell - Sail World; Stuart Streuli - Sailing World; Craig Leweck – Scuttlebutt; Erin Sherbert - SFO Examiner;
Bernie Wilson - Associated Press; James Boyd – Daily Sail
Following is the third of a three part slightly edited transcript of the teleconference moderated by BMW Oracle Racing's Tim Jeffery:
Unknown: The circuit that you and Paul announced a few years ago, did you just come to this realization this year or is this something you have been working on for quite some time?
Coutts: Well you are right, there are certainly quite a number of elements that go conceptually to what Paul and I were thinking about. In other ways it is quite different. It does have some of the same concepts or similar concepts.
Michelle Slade: Three quick questions. When is the first of these World Series, are they going to take place next year?
Michelle Slade: The next one is – Russell, obviously you have some thoughts but the Regatta Director looks like he is going to have a pretty big job. Is it possible that you would have any names that you could share with us at this point?
Coutts: I can’t share any names but the process in how the Regatta Director is elected is in the Protocol. What we are doing is we are using the WSTA teams because they are an entity is formed. We could have used other entities but we decided to use the WSTA and so they effectively provide two board members – we provide one and Vicenzo Onorato's team provide, or the yacht club provides, the other one board member. Then they jointly elect the Regatta Director so we have been in discussions with people who have been elected by that group. Then it will be a similar process with the Measurement Committee, in fact I think the measurement committee is solely elected by WSTA. Once the Regatta Director gets chosen, then consultation with the WSTA they appoint the chief measurer, so out of the next month or two you are going to start to see some of the appointments come on stream.
Michelle Slade: And then my last question is any rumor of any other or another US team that may be stepping up to the plate?
Coutts: Yes, it is more than a rumor though. Yes, there is some interest from the US.
Bernie Wilson: Two quick questions – are there any venues yet for the World Series? And I know during the TV trials you had talked about maybe switching up the America’s Cup courses, so maybe going downwind first then upwind up – have there been any course changes and any venues yet for the World Series?
Coutts: No the courses, again gets elected after the Regatta Director is in place and in consultation with the television guys and the competitors and so on.
Obviously we don’t want to make it just a show, it has to be a real competition.
There are some ideas flying around, one of them as you said is start the races downwind. There are other ones that we would favor more probably, which is for example – to have a very very short first lg into the wind, which would mean that the two yachts would round the first mark nose to tail.
Then the race would really be on downwind because the boat in front is not advantaged anymore downwind.
So that could be pretty interesting from a competitive point of view and also from a viewing point of view.
And also if we ended up at a heavier venue – the reaching leg or legs in the course could be very very tactical as well in a multi-hull. Whereas in a mono-hull they would not be very tactical, and you would see the boats at the highest speeds that they could possibly be sailed. So that is probably worth consideration as well.
Obviously we have got to announce the Match venue first so we have to confirm and announce that. Then the other venues will fall in from there. We obviously have an idea of some of them but we don’t know the order and so forth and we certainly haven’t confirmed anything yet. We will publicly announce that later on this year.
Stuart Streuli: I remember speaking at one of the press conferences back in Lake Mason said for every hour spent on time-ram it took 200 man hours of maintenance to keep the boat going. It is a pretty astronomical ratio – how do teams get that down to a more reasonable amount and will reliability be a major concern for these wing-sails?
Coutts: Once again we are not sailing 115-ft boats. That was a massive challenge. Frankly one of the drivers for the AC33 boats was what loads could we distinctively match and that determined how big to build the boat. This is not like that – these loads will be more manageable. For example we won't have engines on these boats to drive winches and so forth, you don’t need to – but they will be extremely physical boats.
More loaded than for example the Version 5 of America’s Cup, the former America’s Cup boats. Just like any high-performance, high-tech boat of course they are going to need a maintenance program that is well-organized and well-coordinated and well-serviced, but probably no more than a 72-ft mono-hull.
Unknown: Russell, can you tell us who is designing and building the 45?
Coutts: Yes, that design has been specially done by us – BMW Oracle Racing. As for the building, I have to be quite honest – there are a team of people that have been talking to various builders around the world about building components and so forth. I know that they have quite progressed with that but I don’t really have any – I am sorry about this, I am not kidding you – I don’t have any knowledge on that.
The first boat is due to be launched the end of December 2010. What we are going to do is invite teams to sail on the boat in its early stages sometime in January 2011. Once the other boats are all in production, we will make sure that things are strong and working well and things are all in place properly.
The plan is to get the ten boats ready ASAP, and then I think many of the teams may well order two of them. So obviously the production will need to be going through most of if not all of next year.
Gladwell: Just one Russell, can you give us an idea of how fast these new boats will be compared to USA-17.
Coutts: Not that much difference really. I think it is about – this is just going on the strict size of the boat because the rule could change just a little bit, but the size they should be within a knot of boatspeed upwind – so let’s say they will roughly be doing somewhere around 20 knots in breeze upwind and not that much slower, a couple of knots slower downwind. For a reach or something like that – these things will be very rapid. They will be quick. Of course, the scale of those last America’s Cup boats means that you really had to button off pretty early on because the loads were just enormous. The loads will be big on these 72s but manageable.
Tim Jeffery: Okay, well we would like to say thanks to everyone – to the dozen or so of you on the call. You might be interested to know that during the press conference when it was streamed I think we got up to about 25,000 live streams. This seems to be generating a lot of buzz so thank you for taking your part in it. We are very grateful. Thanks everyone.