Big Fella talks America's Cup

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 07 May 2014


Big Fella talks America's Cup

Photographer:© Lloyd Images/Extreme Sailing Series
They say a week is a long time in politics, but on the international sailing scene, the one just gone has been even more so.

Regatta Director, Iain Murray - 34th America's Cup - Press Conference with Skippers  Americas Cup Media

On Saturday we spoke at length with the Big Fella, Iain Murray, the CEO of Team Australia and Commodore of the Hamilton Island Yacht Club. The former America's Cup Regatta Director is now charged with negotiating the Protocol for the 35th America's Cup with Defenders Oracle Team USA.

Iain Murray, Matt Belcher and Sandy Oatley - Team Australia launch - Sydney - Thursday, March 6, 2014  © Andrea Francolini Photography

Although Murray did not say so, we suspect that much of the delay in cutting a deal has been spent in getting the Cup off its course of the past decade, where the Defender progressively tries to take over the event, or drag it into their vision of the future.

To be fair, all have succeeded to a degree. Ernesto Bertarelli created a regatta in 2007 that returned a surplus that was distributed to the top teams. The first time that has happened in an America's Cup. Next time around, he went a stage too far, and found himself on the losing end of a protracted Court battle and eventually lost it the Match to Golden Gate Yacht Club.

Larry Ellison took the Cup in a different direction in 2013, creating an event that the general public could at last understand and relate to. But its shortcomings were many.

During the 40 minute interview, we covered a lot of ground, albeit it at largely a conceptual level, but drilling down as required.

Murray's answers were excellent, leading one to have hope that maybe this next Cup will deliver all that it has promised for so long. And, that at long last, the sport has turned the corner and entered Main Street, as far as the general media and the non-sailing public are concerned.

What was also impressive, and has been touched on by others involved in the design process for the AC62, is that there has been a lot of collaborative effort aimed at designing a good boat and class rule.

San Francisco, 34th America's Cup Final - Oracle Team USA vs Emirates Team New Zealand: supporters  Carlo Borlenghi/Luna Rossa©
Eyebrows will be raised over the notion of the Defender sailing in the Challenger Series. But the reality is that the more involved the Defender involves itself with the Challenger Selection Series, it is depriving itself of the opportunity to two boat test with its second AC62.

Obviously the Protocol for the next America's Cup is not yet announced. This week it was expected to be signed off. Hopefully many have learned from the experiences of the past decade.

In this edition, we publish the first two parts of the interview with Iain Murray. Tomorrow on our website we will publish the third and final part.

Mid-last week it seemed that Emirates Team NZ was set to enter the Volvo Ocean Race. The pin was pulled on that deal, late Friday afternoon – in line with our information out of Spain.

There has been no comment from Volvo Ocean Race management in line with their policy of not commenting on who is not competing. But equally, as yet, there has been no comment on what is happening with the two remaining boats that are awaiting teams. VOR management says they are continuing to talk with two teams.

Emirates Team New Zealand, day four of the Land Rover Extreme Sailing Series regatta in Qingdao, China. 4/5/2014  Chris Cameron/ETNZ©

The point remains that the race needs a marque team of the ilk of a Groupama, Puma or Camper.

The move by Emirates Team NZ is surprising, as it is the first time they have walked away from a race – particularly when they have been so close to getting the deal across the line.

In the past, there has been a commitment and then a push to raise more money to close the gap – but not this time.

Even more surprising when Grant Dalton said that the gap was only 10%.

In this edition we have more detail on his decision.

San Francisco, 34th America's Cup - Oracle Team USA vs Emirates Team New Zealand  Carlo Borlenghi/Luna Rossa©

While Team NZ was pulling back from the Volvo Ocean Race in Auckland, their new afterguard combination were getting a run in Act 3 of the Extreme Sailing Series.

After an indifferent start, Peter Burling, Blair Tuke and friends more than held up their end, sailing well under pressure, and kept the team in third place overall. At the same time Team Australia, aka Team GAC Pindar was still at the back of the pack.

We have full coverage of the racing in Qingdao, including daily updates from Olympic Gold Medalist Anna Tunnicliffe (USA) who is tactician aboard series leader Alinghi.

The racing was overshadowed by a spectacular collision on the final day between Alinghi and Red Bull, catch the video in this edition.

A stuttering start for the Australians at the Finn Europeans In Race 1 Jake Lilly and Oliver Tweddell were amongst 35 BFD's, Race 2 Lilley 13th and Tweddell was 25th, but both races are subject to jury protests, so we shall see what happens in the ´night racing'.

Lots of praise for Principal Race Officer Denis Thompson, who with his usual patience and planning managed to run the full quote of races at the Top of the Gulf Regatta in Thailand, with hardly any co-operation from Hughie.
Full reports from Guy Nowell.

Plenty of news again today.

Rob Kothe, Richard Gladwell & the Sail-World Team

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