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24 Oct 2013
Sail-World New Zealand: October 24, 2013 - Too close to call
Sail-World has been active on the water this week, with a Weta boat test on Tuesday, covering the ORMA60 harbour race between Team Australia and TeamVodafoneSailing on Wednesday. On Friday we will be back on the water again covering the start of the PIC Coastal Classic.
Around 170 boats are expected to start the Coastal Classic, which looks set to be drawn out affair, with headwinds forecast for the first time we can remember at the start.
According to Predictwind.com the trip will be a long one one – with little chance of the records falling – unless there is a last minute wind change.
In this edition of Sail-World.com's newsletter we carry the report from the briefing earlier in the week, along with routing and predicted finish time for what are expected to be the lead boats – the two ORMA60's, the Volvo 70 Giacomo (Jim Delegat) getting her first outing, and of course the 50fters which have so long been the backbone of the Auckland race fleet.
The predictions are that the ORMA60's will take 7-8 hours, the Volvo 70 around 11.5 hours and the 50fters around 13hours. As can be seen in the Predictwind routing the courses are quite different for each boat type and the current prognosis could be quite wrong if the wind swings a little more to the west allowing the yachts a fast tight reach up the coast.
Stay tuned to Sail-World for our coverage of the race, both images from the start, and reports from the race itself, based on Predictwind trackers which will be on board most of the boats. We're hoping to have some really good coverage, but as always we are constrained by what comes off the boats, and what is technically realistic rather than possible.
The ORMA 60 harbour race was an interesting experience. Not quite at the speed levels of the America's Cup – although we believe Team Australia hit 32kts at one point. The Trans-Tasman record holder started well enough, holding a good lead at North Head and looked to have the race in the bag, until TeamVodafoneSailing fired up and drove through to windward and was never headed.
That effort set a very intriguing scene for the Coastal Classic.
The racing debut of Jim Delegat's Volvo 70 will also be watched with interest. As the former Groupama 3, winner of the last Volvo Ocean Race, she certainly has the right pedigree, and as we saw with another Volvo 70, Camper in the 2011 Noumea Race, in the right conditions there is not a lot between the multihull and monohull.
On Monday afternoon the NZ Government announced they would be injecting $5million into Team New Zealand, to enable some members of the team who are believed to be key to a possible Challenge for the 35th America's Cup to be retained.
That announcement set off several days of debate as to who should be involved and the basis of a Challenge.
The standout from that 'debate' is how little those leading commentary know about the America's Cup, how teams are structured, and what needs to happen – and not realising that the terms of the next Protocol will ultimately determine which teams, and how many will actually front up.
For the last three Cups at least, 2003, 2007 and 2013 there has been the catch-cry of needing to reduce costs, get more teams involved etc. The reality is that little has changed on the cost reduction front.
While there is a team in one room writing the rules that are supposed to cut costs, simplify the boats and reduce the team sizes; in the next room other teams are poring over the new words trying to find the loopholes and workarounds to get an edge.
Net result is that nothing changes. It is claimed (by someone who should know) that Team NZ's winning Challenge in 1995 cost $28.5million. Current numbers are now in excess of $100million – or a four fold increase in costs for a two boat campaign in similar sized boats, over a 20 year period.
It is not sustainable. And that is where the focus of the commentary should be. Something has to change that will make a significant difference to the shape of the next era of the America's Cup.
Sail-World's NZ Editor, Richard Gladwell, single handed racing in Wetas off Takapuna Beach Rebecca Hayter
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