Frustration surfaces with America's Cup consultation process

TeamOrigin’s skipper Ben Ainslie is clear that he does not ant the 34th America’s Cup sailed in multihulls

Leading, and very well connected, international yachting correspondent, Stuart Alexander writing in the Independent (UK) has revealed a level of discontent within the Challenger ranks over the consultation process being adopted in the lead up to the 34th America's Cup.

The interview with TeamOrigin skipper, Ben Ainslie, touches on the vexed issue of whether a multihull or monohull will be selected by the Defender and Challenger as the boat for the next America's Cup expected to take place in 2013 or 2014, at a yet to be announced venue.

Alexander writes:

In what Oracle calls a consultation process, nearly every top designer present voted against a permanent switch to multihulls. 'It would turn sailing completely on its head,' said the normally ultra-diplomatic Ainslie yesterday. 'If they go for a wing sail multihull, the whole of the sailing world will see that as a stitch-up.'

Stuart Alexander, long time America's Cup and international yachting correspondent.
As a monohull expert, Ainslie would have to learn a new multihull game. He has won a silver and three gold Olympic medals in singlehanded dinghies. He has served an apprenticeship in fully crewed big keelboats, with two America's Cup campaigns, where he was a more than token tune-up helmsman against Team New Zealand's Dean Barker. And he was selected to take part in the rest of the season's World Match Racing Tour, having won the last event in Marstrand, Sweden.

The America's Cup has always been the object of bitter struggle and resentment. So, behind the smiles and sporting handshakes in the Cowes Parade marquee where the Cup is on display, there has been increasing tension about the shape of the next event, leading to a long letter signed by, among others, Origin, Team New Zealand, All4One of France and Russian team Synergy.

That was followed by a 49-point memorandum. 'We welcome all input,' say Oracle. 'They haven't even bothered to reply,' say Origin.

As far as the Oracle camp is concerned, there is an almost evangelical flavour to the way progress has been made since winning the Cup in February. 'Trust in Russell,' is the line. 'He will organise the best possible Cup.'

Looked at from the other side, being left dangling without knowing when the next event will be held, in what boats and where, with a $3m bond and €1.5m entry fee due by the end of January is, opponents feel, putting them at a disadvantage.

TV Trials underway in Valencia, July 2010

The official line is that no choice has been made between a return to a monohull boat or whether to stick with the multihull route which decided the last Cup in February.

For the full interview!click_here

The 49 point memorandum referred to by Alexander calls for more involvement by the Challengers and Competitor Committee which can only be established once the first entry has been received for the 34th America's Cup - or sometime after 1 October 2010.

The Group of Five signatories believe that by then, many of the major decisions will have been made, and their solution is for the World Team Sailing Association to effectively stand in the shoes of the Italian Challenger, Club Nautico di Roma.

A key issue raised is the announcement of a racing program for 2011, which the Group of Five, want to see announced by the end of September 2010 to allow sufficient time to plan logistics and sponsorship to compete. At this stage it is not known which boat(s) will be used for these events - and whether that will be a multihull or monohull, a AC Version 5 yacht, currently used in the Louis Vuitton Trophy series, or something else again.

Although the letter is dated 14 July 2010, there has been no official response to it, save that discussions are expected to be held during the 1851 Cup currently being staged off Cowes between the Defender BMW Oracle Racing, and Ainslie's TeamOrigin.