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AC34 turmoil, Hood’s legacy —Sailing news from the U.S. and beyond

by David Schmidt, Sail-World USA Editor on 3 Jul 2013
Luna Rossa suspended in the team’s base in San Francisco Pierre Orphanidis/
The America’s Cup world remains embroiled in controversy pertaining to the newly allowed rudder elevators, which were included (last-minute) into the AC72 class rule following Artemis Racing’s tragic capsize on May 9. The recommendations (penned by a review committee led by AC34 Regatta Director Iain Murray) were intended to bolster safety for all teams, however both Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ) and Luna Rossa designed their boats to safely foil sans the elevators, albeit at the expense of outright speed. Because of this, both teams are protesting Murray on the grounds that these rudder elevators effectively give Oracle Team USA (and potentially Artemis Racing) a speed advantage.

'In the AC72 Class Rule you are allowed to build rudder elevators which are not allowed to exceed the maximum beam of the yacht, nor extend aft of one meter forward of the stern plane of the yacht,' wrote ETNZ skipper, Dean Barker, in a blog entry (inside this issue). 'The AC72 class was never envisioned to fully foil, however through thousands of hours of design and testing [ETNZ] made a decision that our [first-generation] AC72 would be a fully foiling yacht.'

'To do this we needed to increase the engineering of a number of components of the boat to accept the extra loading as a boat comes clear of the water,' continued Barker. 'We also took design compromises to allow us to build a boat that would foil in a stable and reliable fashion. The compromise was often straight-line speed, but a compromise we felt necessary for safety and the ability to push the boat hard.'

For ETNZ and Luna Rossa, these rudder elevators are obviously bad news. 'We have sailed with our current elevators for the bulk of the sailing we have done,' wrote Barker. 'With the Regatta Director trying to suggest that these are not safe, and having to build brand new, untested elevators at this late stage only introduces new risk.'

Barker certainly isn’t alone in his objections. 'Luna Rossa is indeed in favor of the introduction of new and more stringent safety regulations (it has approved 35 out of the 37 Recommendations of the Regatta Director),' wrote the team in a recent press release, 'but the measures regarding rudders, rudder elevators as well as the increased displacement have nothing to do with safety, since their only reason and effect to increase the speed and performance of the boat.'

Get the latest drama in this unfolding AC34 situation, inside this issue, and stay tuned for the latest Louis Vuitton Cup racing news, as the first guns of this event are due to sound this weekend.

Also AC-related but on a much more somber note, America’s Cup Hall of Famer and winning Cup skipper Ted Hood passed away late last week at the age of 86. Hood’s sailing resume is lengthy and legendary, as are his business and design/innovation achievements. Inside, be sure to read Sail-World’s tribute to Hood’s amazing sailing and entrepreneurial career to learn more about how this massively respected sailor (and gentleman) likely impacted your own sailing.

Also inside, get the latest news from the 52 Super Series Royal Cup, check out the reports from the Stena Match Cup Sweden, and learn about the third female to skipper a boat in the Clipper Around the World Race in the race’s 17 year history.

And, finally, check out ace photographer Ingrid Abery’s great image gallery from the 52 Super Series. Enjoy!

May the four winds blow you safely home,

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