Please select your home edition
Edition
Bakewell-White Yacht Design

America's Cup- Coutts repeats offer of second AC62 for Challengers

by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World.com/nz on 19 Jun 2014
Oracle Team USA - Two boat testing session San Francisco (USA) August 30, 2013 Guilain Grenier Oracle Team USA © http://www.oracleteamusamedia.com/
Oracle Team USA CEO, Russell Coutts, has repeated the offer of a second AC62 for the Challengers in the 35th America's Cup, removing a major criticism of the Protocol surrounding the event.

Coutts' offer followed a comment made by Oracle Team USA skipper, Jimmy Spithill in the course of a radio interview broadcast a week ago in NZ. When questioned as to why Oracle, as Defender, had been allowed to have two AC62's yet the Challengers were restricted to one, Spithill responded that the same option had been put to the Challengers, but they had not taken it up.

Writing on his Facebook page in response to a NZ Herald article critical of some aspects of the Protocol, one of which was the single AC62 for the Challengers, Coutts responded:

In negotiations for the current Protocol, Oracle Team USA proposed that all teams should have the option of building two sets of hulls on the same terms as currently apply to Oracle Team USA (namely no extra wings or components, very limited sailing time, have to race the first set of hulls, second set of hulls built from same moulds). Oracle Team USA would continue to support that position should the Challengers wish to reconsider their position. Note that Oracle Team USA can’t unilaterally change the Protocol: it can only be changed by majority vote.

35th America’s Cup Protocol, Article 20.1: 'this Protocol may only be amended with the agreement of GGYC, the Challenger of Record and a majority of the Competitor Forum.'


When the second AC62 offer was raised the following day in the Black Friday media conference held by Emirates Team NZ, CEO Grant Dalton was questioned several times on the offer made less than 24 hours previously by Spithill.

Dalton said that the offer was news to Team New Zealand, 'We had no knowledge of that. It was a revelation to us,' Dalton added when questioned at the media session.

Later he said that, in the few hours that had lapsed, the team hadn't really thought through the implications of the second AC62. 'It has a budget implication, for sure. You might be able to balance that a little with the use of surrogates. But I don't even know how serious it is,' Dalton added.

Dalton was a little more hesitant about the offer. He made the point that their strategy was heavily predicated on the use of surrogate boats (under 33ft in length) to do the testing required, rather than using a two boat program - as has been done in the past with monohull campaigns.

It was not clear who had declined the offer, and indeed how much the Challenger of Record, Hamilton Island Yacht Club had discussed the offer with other Challengers.

Dalton deferred to Team New Zealand COO, Kevin Shoebridge over discussions with the Challenger of Record. Shoebridge said 'we had some initial discussions in the early day, in the first months. But since Christmas it has pretty well dried up and since then we have had very little, almost zero input.'

That situation is a little strange given the fact that Team New Zealand, in its various forms, has had a 30 year involvement in the America's Cup, and has competed in eight America's Cup cycles, being a Challenger finalist or better in all of those events. Hamilton Island Yacht Club is a first time Challenger.

Significant change from last Cup
A very significant change in the Protocol, compared to the rules that applied for the last America's Cup is the removal of all rules regarding two boat testing between the competing teams, exchange of performance data, and even use of designs, supply of moulds, etc.

The issue was highly contentious in the last America's Cup build-up. Oracle Team USA joined with the Challenger of Record, Artemis Racing (SWE), to go to the International Jury to have the other two Challengers' wings clipped on the design, performance information sharing and race practice arrangement agreed between the Italians and Kiwis. Both teams were in adjacent bases in Auckland, and sailing on the same water.

The two complainants believed that the cosy arrangement effectively gave Team New Zealand three boats, instead of the two that any team was allowed.

The US and Swedish teams had a partial success in the Jury room with the sale of a base design being cleared, along with racing between the two teams - however performance data sharing and two-boat training was ruled to be contrary to the Protocol.


All those restrictions are now largely removed, as well as the contentious 200 metre circle around yachts while training, except that one team cannot impede the boat of another. Infringing that rule cost Oracle Team USA five sailing days after a complaint to the International Jury by Luna Rossa.

It is not clear is whether teams could exchange performance information in real-time, something that would become more relevant in the context of the next America's Cup with the use of one design wingsails, which lend themselves to comparisons of settings twist and power data.

The 'no-rule' means that an experienced Challenger, or the Defender, can elect to work with a second, probably new team to get the second team up to speed more quickly, and share design and development costs. In the last America's Cup, the Italian challenger, Luna Rossa paid Emirates Team NZ several million dollars for their design. They commented at the time that they would have been unable to compete without the New Zealand assistance. The commercially based Emirates Team New Zealand were able to recoup some of the design cost they had incurred since establishing a large design team in October 2010 to work on the development of a foiling wingsailed AC72 catamaran.

The shared programs are a significant one for yacht racing where it is the custom for a boat to succeed on the basis of her own individual effort, and particularly so in the America's Cup where going back the designers and crew had to one come from one country. At one point even the sail cloth had to be manufactured in the country of the challenging club, leading to the Australians developing 'Contender' sailcloth, which is still trading today.

The obvious intention with the Protocol as it stood, and was known until last Thursday, was that a Challenger was allowed only one set of hulls and would then work up with other teams. They could only compete against other teams in the venue of the Qualifying series for the America's Cup.

Same for Challenger and Defender
The two AC62 offer was made under the same terms for the Challengers as the Defenders, in that teams would be restricted as to when they could launch the second AC62 (after the end of the Qualifiers). They have to sail their first boat in the subsequent Qualification Rounds, and Match, but it could be substituted under certain conditions in the case of damage.

Teams would still be allowed just two wingsails regardless of how many boats they had. The boats would have to come out of the same mould, but can still be altered 20% of their hull surface area after being built.

The issues for the Challengers to consider are whether the second AC62 is needed as an insurance policy.


Currently, if they did a faceplant and suffered significant damage to their hulls that could not be repaired quickly with a day or two, they would be out of the America's Cup completely, and their position taken by another team. That would put a very abrupt end to a Challenge expected to cost in excess of $50million.

Running a second AC62 would also require a second crew, and would that would increase expense, however that would also allow better crew training and succession, without having to work in with a second team. For Team New Zealand, with both Peter Burling and Dean Barker signed as skippers, the second boat could have major advantages.

A significant advantage is a time gain, in that the second boat could be shipped directly to the Match venue, and a team could start sailing at the Match venue as soon as the first round of the Qualifiers are complete. That would give an extra month or more of time, while the first AC62 is shipped from the Qualifier venue to the Match venue.

In many ways the situation is the same as used by Team New Zealand in the 1995 America's Cup, where they sailed their first launched NZL-32 in the Semi-Finals, Finals and America's Cup Match. (Under the current version of the Protocol, they have to sail the first launched AC62 right through the Regatta.)

Aside from the insurance aspect, the risk with the one AC62 strategy for a Challenger is that the first boat will have a long sailing and competitive life. She will clock up long hours, and will require very through careful maintenance and servicing if she went all the way to the Match. Offsetting that with two boats, there is obviously more servicing overhead, however properly managed this would not be at the expense of sailing time.

The Protocol could be loosened further with the agreement of all teams to make a second AC62 more workable option than at present.

The full letter text can be read by clicking here

Barz Optics - Melanin LensesNaiadBakewell-White Yacht Design

Related Articles

A Q&A with Daniel Smith, the Clipper Race’s new deputy race director
I talked with Daniel Smith, the Clipper Round The World Race’s new deputy race director, to learn more about his role. I was fortunate to sail with Daniel Smith [36, SCO], skipper of “Derry~Londonderry~Doire” for the 2015/2016 edition of the Clipper Round The World Race, when the fleet reached Seattle last spring. Now, Smith has been hired as the event’s deputy race director-a job that will test many of the skills that he polished as a skipper. I caught up with Smith via email to learn more about his new job.
Posted on 9 Jan
Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - Suck it up, sunshine!
The 72nd start of the iconic blue water classic had 300,000 spectators lining the foreshores of Sydney Harbour The 72nd start of the iconic blue water classic had 300,000 spectators lining the foreshores of Sydney Harbour, another two million watching on TV, and the constant buzz and whir of media helicopters overhead. 88 boats, from Australia, USA, UK, Germany, Sweden, Russia, Japan, Korea, China, oh and New Zealand, had lined up on three start lines.
Posted on 31 Dec 2016
Rolex Sydney Hobart Race - More merriment on the airwaves
Here are more examples of merriment on the airwaves between the boats and Hobart Race Control So on December 29, 2016, after the River Derwent had let just three boats home (Perpetual Loyal, Giacomo and Scallywag, all inside the old race record, she went to sleep for a lot of the day. This made it frustrating for the sailors, some of whom saw the lighter side. So after seeing some of those in Dark & Stormy, here are more examples of merriment on the airwaves between the boats and HRC
Posted on 29 Dec 2016
Sydney Hobart Race-Dark and stormy, well because it is Dark and Stormy
Proving that there is a lighter side to the frustrations that is a race to Hobart Well it is now dark and the rain 'storms' have passed, but proving that there is a lighter side to the frustrations that is a race to Hobart, the custom Murray 37, Dark & Stormy had a wonderful exchange on the radio. Quite possibly it was co-owner and Navigator Terry Courts on the VHF in the super-frank exchange with Hobart Race Control at around 1928hrs on 29/12/16.
Posted on 29 Dec 2016
Rolex Sydney Hobart Race - Wicked
ather and Son outfit, Wicked, are Matt and Mark Welsh from Melbourne. Matt is at home on the couch after knee surgery Father and Son outfit, Wicked, are Matt and Mark Welsh from Melbourne. Matt is at home on the couch after knee surgery, but Mark is out on the water, approaching Hobart. From on board he said, 'Amazing race. Barely any windward work. Just does not get better than this. Bit of gear damage cost us early, and we had to sail a little conservatively.'
Posted on 29 Dec 2016
Rolex Sydney Hobart Race - Accepting the Challenge
When you buy a boat like the late Lou Abrahma's Sydney 38, Challenge, you're almost obliged to keep taking her South When you buy a boat like the late Lou Abrahma's Sydney 38, Challenge, you're almost obliged to keep taking her South at Christmas time. Luckily this has not been a problem for Chris Mrakas and his new crew, which includes Bruce Reidy
Posted on 29 Dec 2016
Rolex Sydney Hobart Race – 67 out of 70
It's a pretty awesome score in anybody’s language. When it is the number of hours you spend under kite It's a pretty awesome score in anybody’s language. When it is the number of hours you spend under kite in the 72nd Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race so far, then it is more than A+++. Anto Sweetapple from on board the Jones 40, Quetzalcoatl, reports in from at sea for us.
Posted on 29 Dec 2016
Rolex Sydney Hobart 2016 - The 60 Hour report card
60 hours into the 72nd Rolex Sydney Hobart race. 16 boats finished,five boats retired and 67 boats at sea. The state of play 60 hours into the 72nd running of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. At 0100hrs Australian Eastern Daylight Savings Time this morning, 16 boats had finished the 2016 race. Five boats had retired, and 67 boats were still on the water.
Posted on 28 Dec 2016
Rolex Sydney Hobart Race – the second step for CQS and 2017
It was a frustrating end to a frustrating race for the newest supermaxi in the 2016 Rolex Sydney to Hobart race It was a frustrating end to a frustrating race for the newest supermaxi to compete in the 2016 Rolex Sydney to Hobart race. It was just her second ever race, with her first, the White Island Race in New Zealand, producing a line honours win. While Ludde Ingvall’s radical new 98-footer CQS had a very slow passage across an almost windless Storm Bay and River Derwent.
Posted on 28 Dec 2016
Rolex Sydney Hobart Race – Derwent sleeping it off?
We spoke about how anyone with an interest in ensuring Perpetual Loyal got Line Honours, also a new record in the race In the article Right-turn-means-record-in-mortal-danger, we spoke about how anyone with an interest in ensuring Perpetual Loyal got Line Honours and also a new record in the race should go down and pour a rum into the River Derwent from Constitution Dock. Looks like they did. However, they may have poured the entire barrel in, because now the River is sleeping it off.
Posted on 27 Dec 2016