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02 Jun 2014
Foiling cats fleet race - Volvo OR Updates - Young 88 Two-handers
Foiling catamaran fleet race - GC32 Austria Cup 2014 Sander Van Der Borch
Welcome to Sail-World.com's New Zealand e-magazine for June 1, 2014
Main event this week is the GC32 Austria Cup being sailed on Lake Traunsee, Austria.
The regatta is notable for the fact that it is the first fleet racing ever held in foiling catamarans.
So far the results have been spectacular – well for the first couple of days at least - that was when there was enough breeze to get the 32ft cats foil-borne.
The class blurb claims the cats will foil in just 8kts of breeze, but they would seem to need a little more than that to become spectacular - as fans have now come to expect from this type of boat.
The series has attracted several America's Cup teams, with Emirates Team NZ amongst the higher profile absentees.
The four boats used are being shared around eight teams with a match racing style of boat roster being used. Several New Zealanders are sailing in the event, notably Adam Minoprio and Nick Blackman. Both are from the Blackmatch Racing team – the 2009 World Matching Racing Champions.
The GC32 has a big New Zealand involvement – with Southern Spars supplying many of the components used on the production catamaran. North Sails and Harken are also key suppliers.
Although the America's Cup has faded from view, the legacy of the AC72's has manifested itself in two production catamarans around the 32ft length mark – the GC32 and SL33. A third foiling catamaran, the two man 18ft Flying Phantom, is also making its mark in the international regatta circuit.
In this edition, we have the first four days racing from the Lake Traunsee, Austria. Also featured is a story on the next project for the GC32 – an attempt on the Round the Island race record – with the Island in this instance being the Isle of Wight.
Last year Ben Ainslie broke the 12 year old record by 16 minutes, sailing the AC45 of his team, Ben Ainslie Racing. This year the event will be held on June 21, with the GC32's getting underway in the second group of starters at the 6.40am.
For sure the GC32's will need a good weather window to crack open Ainslie's record time, nevertheless the classic race, emulating the original course for the America's Cup, will attract a lot of international interest from the new foiling multihull fans.
While some would have it that the Protocol for the 35th America's Cup is just days away from being released, a check around some international sources late in the week, revealed that the document may still be weeks away from being released.
The venue, we believe, will come down to a shoot-out between two Californian cities, San Diego and San Francisco, with the former being the more enthusiastic option of the two venues.
While the challenging teams and fans would prefer a return to San Francisco, that may not happen as commercial aspects of the Cup seem to be taking precedence. San Diego, with a Republican state government seems to be much more responsive.
Commercial aspects are code for monetarising the event, which is believed to be the responsibility of Oracle Team USA's CEO, Russell Coutts.
In a re-jigged team, 2012 Olympic Gold medalist Tom Slingsby (AUS) is managing the sailing side with two other Australians Grant Simmer and Jimmy Spithill running the team on a day to day basis. A fourth Australian, Ian Burns is the head of the design team.
UK-based sailing website, The Daily Sail, confirms in an interview earlier this week with Slingsby that the new Protocol's intention is to only have four teams permitted to contest the final Challenger selection rounds in the America's Cup venue.
Slingsby rolls out the party line that there is insufficient space for more than four challenging teams plus Defender team at the venue. We suspect that the reality is TV Rights considerations – with interest, if any, from the US TV channels only being on the Semi-Finals and Finals of the Challenger Series.
That being the case the teams would have just a month's racing in the Cup venue, and the teams which exit at the end of the Semi-Finals would have a mere couple of weeks of competition. Those that don't make it to California will have some very disappointed and upset sponsors, who will not doubt cover their investment by only paying the full amount on the condition that their team makes the final cut.
Whether that scenario is an attractive, or financially viable one, for Challengers remains to be seen. The strategy being pursued by event organisers is a high risk one, and one which Challengers would find hard to explain to potential sponsors.
The lack of space claim is a bit rich coming from Oracle Team USA. In the last event there was a lot of talk about having a central facility at which all the teams would be contained - only to have that altered abruptly by the Defender's Event Management arm, ten months out from the start of the Match. Only Emirates Team NZ, the last team to arrive, came into the planned team hub area, with the other teams all staying at more remote bases.
In the end where the teams had their bases didn't matter much. What is surprising is that Oracle's event management arm is pursuing this already failed approach. As has been pointed out previously there seems to be plenty of space around the San Francisco Bay environs. Where the teams locate their bases is usually something they negotiate with the owners of the land - and is no concern of the Defender.
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