America's Cup- The End of the Beginning
by Richard Gladwell on 30 Jan 2013
Here is the Editorial from Sail-World.com's sixth America's Cup Newsletter for the 34th America's Cup.
We are now in the Year of Cup - in fact, in just over five months, the first racing will be under way in the Louis Vuitton Cup.
Oracle Team USA - final preparations ahead of the relaunch - January 2013 Guilain Grenier Oracle Team USA © http://www.oracleteamusamedia.com/
The end of January also marks the end of the first limited sailing period - where test sailing and racing by the AC72's is limited to just 30 days.
If you are in the school that regards this limit as some sort of a report card then http://noticeboard.americascup.com/ac72/!click_here to see the days left for each team.
Only one, Emirates Team NZ used their full quota of 30 days allowed. Luna Rossa will go close, and the two San Francisco domociled teams will be well short of the mark.
Using this same scale, it will be interesting to see how the two Auckland based Challengers, Luna Rossa and Emirates Team NZ, fare in the next phase - which starts February 1, 2013 and runs through to May 1, 2013. In this period, the Protocol governing the America's Cup, permits the teams to sail for 45 days per boat.
With just one AC72 commissioned each, Luna Rossa and Emirates Team NZ will not doubt sail all they can. To get through their allowed days, the teams will have to sail, on average, every other day, for the three months. On current sailing rates that is unlikely to be achieved. Then the Auckland teams will have to pack base and head for San Francisco at the end of April, while the San Francisco teams continue uninterrupted - save for Oracle Team USA's Int Jury imposed time-out.
So both Oracle Team USA and Artemis Racing, have the ability to catch up some time - but will it be enough?
Historically time has been the one commodity you can't buy in the America's Cup, and whether the teams are variously ahead or behind, won't become apparent until July.
The clear theme coming through from Emirates Team NZ is that the time for boat development is fast running out, and the emphasis must turn to achieving day to day racing reliability. At this juncture, the same mantra applies to all teams.
Next week, the new phase of this year's America's Cup begins with the launch in Auckland of Emirates Team NZ's second AC72. They are expected to be sailing by February 7, 2013, local time or February 6 on the West Coast of USA.
That timeline is expected to be similar for the re-launch of the ill-fated USA-17 for Oracle Team USA. A key question will be the degree of rebuild versus redevelopment of the Defender's 72ft catamaran. Within the scope allowed by the rules for hull and wingsail modification, Oracle Team USA may have taken the opportunity to jump half a generation, in AC72 design. Or maybe not.
Guessing who is ahead in the America's Cup game has been one of the fascinations of the aficionados, who examine every photo and video frame to garner that last glimmer of insight. We admit to being guilty as charged on this count, but also are well aware that one more fact can change an impression completely. Cup-watching is a great pastime, but the only real benchmark is on the race course.
Understanding how the America's Cup AC72's work is beyond the ken of most sailing fans. To try and give Sail-World readers an understanding of the issues and thinking, we sat down with former Oracle Racing Technical Director, Mike Drummond - and got his views, over the course of an hour. We have the interview split into two parts in this edition of Sail-World.com's America's Cup newsletter.
Emirates Team NZ have been particularly open with their campaign, allowing the New Zealand media inside the building hangar during the build of both their first and second AC72's. In this edition we have the story, images and video of the second of these 'Open-Homes', along with video interviews with Technical Director, Nick Holroyd and team boss, Grant Dalton. For the train spotters what is happening in the background is almost as interesting as what is being said in the interview.
But certainly it is a view we have never seen before, in almost 30 years of Cup reporting.
For the other teams we are a little light on content. With the the America's Cup in the situation where it desperately needs to build a fan base, and with just four teams operating, one would have expected a lot more open approach. More hard hitting behind the scenes stories about the boats and the challenges of the moment. Even if things are not going that well, or there is added pressure.
Sadly that hasn't happened. Whether the entertainment theme changes in the months to come, remains to be seen. America's Cups aren't for the happy clappers. It's a tough, high pressure game.
Professional sport is a study of people, and teams under stress. In this America's Cup, there has been stress by the sackful. Aside from the Oracle capsize, the fans have been shown too little of it, and teams' reaction under pressure. The Event is much the poorer for that.
Other sports maintain a high visibility and empathy with their fans by letting them inside the roller doors, and speaking frankly about the lows as well as the highs. It's a lesson those running this America's Cup need to learn, and fast.
We will be publishing further America's Cup newsletters, when there is sufficient content and/or on milestone occasions -this will be once a month, until the start of the Louis Vuitton Cup.
In the meantime stay tuned to www.sail-world.com - next week in particular - for the latest on the two AC72 launches.
Sail-World's America's Cup News Editor