After just four days of sailing in the their new AC72 America's Cup Challenger, Artemis Racing, have announced several key changes in the afterguard.
Gone is skipper, Terry Hutchinson, who has been with the team since its inception, and on-board are a bevy of Olympic Gold Medalists, plus highly experienced multihull skipper and technical specialist, Loick Peyron.
The Challenger of Record for the 34th America’s Cup, announced a new afterguard featuring Olympic Gold medalists; Iain Percy (GBR), Nathan Outteridge (AUS) and Santiago Lange (ARG) as well as Loïck Peyron (FRA). Artemis Racing believe the technical and multihull experience of this group will provide an efficient nucleus to guide the team’s AC72, particularly through the next few critical months of sailing and testing.
Iain Percy will also act as sailing team director. CEO Paul Cayard is still listed as tactician.
With these changes taking place, the statement continues, Terry Hutchinson has been released from the team. 'Terry has made a huge contribution to the team since we started our quest for the America’s Cup. Terry’s leadership and match racing expertise led Artemis Racing to win the 2012 ACWS Match Racing Championships and has brought the team to where we are today. We appreciate all of his efforts and dedication. We wish him the very best for the future,' said Cayard.
Artemis Racing’s 72 was christened on November 3rd and the team has been training on San Francisco Bay in preparation for the Louis Vuitton Cup Challenger Series which begins next summer, as a lead up to the 34th America’s Cup in September 2013.
Cayard added, in the statement: 'With the America’s Cup racing just seven months away, it’s crucial that we maximize each day the team is sailing the AC72, both in terms of training, as well as understanding the boat’s limitations and attributes to be considered for future boat and wing development. The experience this afterguard brings is unmatched and is what will help the team succeed.'
The real reasons for the move have not been disclosed, and the change had not been widely signalled in America's Cup circles prior to the announcement. However the effect overall will be very positive for the team, particularly if the multi-national chemistry in the back of the boat can made to work. There is little doubt that this will happen with Loick Peyron's even and unflappable approach to life and multihull sailing in particular.
Of the others, double Olympic Gold medalist Finn and Star classes, Iain Percy brings a steel edge to any campaign. Outteridge brings the youth and quick-eyed talent that so dominated the 49er class in the 2012 Olympics. Lange, a Gold and Bronze Medalist in the Olympic Tornado class brings both multihull technical skills along with a depth of experience in the type, and will be the interface between the design and sailing teams. Peyron is skipper of the current Jules Verne Trophy holder, and is without peer in the large muilthull world. He joined the team only recently in the gambit of being in a training role only, however that limitation has proved to be short-lived. He was also a key member of the Alinghi 5 team in the 2010 America's Cup, helming the 120ft catamaran for a time in the final stages of the second race in the match, against Oracle Racing's trimaran.
Amongst this group, Hutchinson was probably the odd-man out. While he had several America's Cup campaigns under his belt, including the 2007 campaign with Emirates Team New Zealand, and had been primary helmsman with the team in the America's Cup World Series, he lacked the depth of experience that others have in multihull sailing or high performance sailing, albeit that Hutchinson is one of the worlds' top helmsman in large monohulls.
The reasons behind the changes are believed to be the need to accelerate the Artemis Racing program, which suffered badly when one wingsail was written off while testing on their ORMA60 trimaran platform, off Valencia, and again when their AC72 fractured a mainbeam while undergoing towing tests prior to sail trialing.
The team has only four days sailing under their belt in their first AC72, with a new boat also being built and needing to be worked up. Any opportunity for racing practice against the Defender, Oracle Team USA has also largely vanished with the US team's capsize and substantial destruction of their boat and wingsail on October 6, 2012.
Artemis, the Swedish Challenger last sailed eleven days ago (ostensibly due to unfavourable weather), while in the same period, in Auckland, Luna Rossa sailed four sessions and Emirates Team NZ did five sessions. The latter is expected to compete their 30 days, or close to it by mid December, when their AC72 will be decommissioned ahead of the launch of their second boat in early February. Whether Artemis Racing intended to do the same, or run a genuine two boat campaign for the next seven months remains to be seen.
The move will add a new edge to the Louis Vuitton Cup where Artemis were expected to struggle with Italian Challenger Luna Rossa to sail off with Emirates Team New Zealand for the right to Challenge for the 34th America's Cup. The latter are firm favourites to defend the Louis Vuitton Cup, at this stage, having all but used their available 30 sailing days, with the others still in single digits.
But as has been seen several times in the America's Cup cycle, going from hero to zero can take just a few seconds, and nothing is a given.
(Footnote: Hejdå pronounced hey-dah is Swedish for 'goodbye')