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sail-world.com -- Fisher's View: Day minus 3 ACWS Newport - The Elephant is in the Room

Fisher's View: Day minus 3 ACWS Newport - The Elephant is in the Room    
Tue, 26 Jun 2012


Bob Fisher, one of the world's top international yachting journalists, and certainly the top writer on the America's Cup, is in Newport, RI, USA for the sixth round of the America's Cup World Series.

Bob is a multihuller from way back, having competed for Britain in the Little America's Cup and has been covering the America's Cup since 1967.

He writes:

Dear Diary – Day minus 3 - America's Cup World Series - Newport, RI, USA

While the attention should be on the completion of the 2011/2012 AC-45 World Series, much of the talk is of the AC-72s. It runs from the AC hierarchy right through to the sailors and the topics are wide and various, from whether the size of the boats will produce too heavy demands on the crews to the way in which the boats themselves are designed and structured. Even at an Oracle Team USA press conference, the question of the 72s took up almost half the available time.

In a separate interview with Russell Coutts, he admitted that the heavy loadings of these catamarans that would constantly exceed 30 knots would be more than a handful for the 11-man crews and when asked if perhaps he hadn't taken a step too far, he could only shrug his shoulders in a gesture of uncertainty. ACRM chief, Iain Murray, revealed that the teams that had paid their entry fee for the Louis Vuitton Cup, together with the defender, were still in discussions regarding the length of the courses. He said the downwind legs of three miles could only take six minutes and that would include setting the masthead asymmetric and furling it to round the leeward mark.

Then the matter of hydrofoils reared its ugly head. Oracle Team USA has been trialling on of its AC-45s with L-shaped daggerboards and T-foiled rudders in San Francisco with some success. It also has a backlog of experience gained in the development of USA-17, the 90-foot waterline catamaran that won the 33rd America's Cup. Whether other teams have similarly experimented is not known, but all the AC-72 design teams will have been evaluating the theories. Those theories are certain to be transformed into practicality.

The biggest concern of most teams is the short time they are allowed to sail their AC-72s. From July 1st to January 31st next year, each team will be allowed only 30 days sailing with their first AC-72. Dirk Kramers, the Oracle Team's chief engineer, admitted: 'The 72s will throw it all in peoples' faces and 30 days is not very much.' He added: 'The next 13 months will prove very interesting.'

Taking a more pragmatic approach in Newport, Jimmy Spithill said that obtaining as much experience of racing catamarans was of paramount importance 'whether is in the 45s or A-cats, it all counts.' He added that when considering the upcoming regatta: 'anyone can win this one; it's all about consistency.' And of whether the four-point lead his team has over Emirates Team New Zealand being enough, he commented: 'It could be very close.'

by Bob Fisher



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