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Gladwell's Line - More from la Stampa...and from (la) Taipa

by Richard Gladwell, NZ on 20 Sep 2017
Larry Ellison - Oracle Team USA with tactician Tom Slingsby (AUS/USA) - Presentation - 35th America’s Cup - Bermuda June 26, 2017 Richard Gladwell
More leaks from Italy Monday night on what the Protocol and Class Rule could look like for the 36th America's Cup which is being defended by Emirates Team New Zealand and Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron.

All the running is coming out of Italy - mostly from Turin based newspaper La Stampa, which seems to have the hotline to the key players who reveal a few snippets about what is in the agreed, but yet to be announced documents for the Protocol and Class Rule.

For media outside the La Stampa orbit, it is like chasing the tasty bits in a burley stream.

For potential teams, it must be infuriating, as the two teams putting the Rules and Protocol together have an advantage of prior knowledge, which has been an issue of fairness in previous America's Cups.

What we now know is that the boat used will be a 'high-performance monohull' whatever that means. It would hardly be described as a low-performance boat to be used in the America's Cup!

Many have jumped to the conclusion that it will be a foiling monohull. That will be a real point of interest, as so far the only foiling monohulls we have seen have been those designed for reaching in the Southern Ocean and other trans-oceanic courses - not the windward leeward courses used in the America's Cup and match racing.

One option would seem to be a beamy Comanche style boat with some foils, a canting keel, and a wide skimmer like hull. But that requires an engine electric or diesel to provide the power to cant the keel to provide the required righting moment while maintaining light weight.

The downside is that while these boats are great to watch in a breeze, in light winds, they are very sticky - due to their large wetted surface.

That ability to sailing fast in light airs was the big advantage of the AC50 - which could sail at four times windspeed in just 6kts of breeze.

The criteria for meeting the nationality requirements has now been revealed as having to hold a passport of the country of the defending/challenging club. That is the same situation as for the last America's Cup, and the hanging question now is what the percentage will be? Hardest hit will be the Australians who sailed for Oracle Team USA - whose home country has some very tight passport restrictions.

We are also told that the restriction will only apply to sailing crew, meaning that designers and others are free to work with any team nationality they wish.

Less clear is the statement that there will be pre-Cup racing in the same yachts as the Finals. Taken at face value, this would mean that a team would have to launch a boat by April/May 2019 to compete on a circuit in Europe, which means starting a build in November 2018, and a design process maybe six months before that - or in about nine months time.

However, again something could have been lost in translation.

From a report in another Italian newspaper, it would seem that the 34-year long partnership with Louis Vuitton is at an end. In its place is the Prada Cup, which will be awarded to the winner of the Challenger Selection Series. But again something could have been lost in translation.

Also said to be back in the Cup frame is Bruno Trouble - the initiator of the Louis Vuitton Cup in 1983 - probably the biggest single development in the America's Cup since the initial race in 1851.

Again we will have to wait until the end of next week when the full Protocol will be announced at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron. The new class rule will not be made known for another two months - subject of course, as to what is leaked to the Italian media before that date.

In an earlier interview with Matteo de Nora, the ETNZ Principal denied there was financial support from Luna Rossa to Emirates Team NZ. That is contrary to several media reports run last week.

In response to a question posed in La Stampa as to the added value from the ETNZ alliance with Luna Rossa - “it helped us to gain some time in the first phase of the match', said de Nora. 'We started with some delays. It gave us technology, the boat (AC45), and other tools. We took some parts from the AC45 that we used to develop the AC50”.

When questioned specifically as to whether Emirates Team NZ received any financial support from Luna Rossa’s Patrizio Bertelli - “not directly, but the giving help with boat parts, technology, and men was, of course, valuable,' replied de Nora.

That is well wide of the mark quoted in the media last week which gave the impression that Emirates Team NZ had been bought at a weak moment, by Luna Rossa for an injection of several million dollars.

In's 'Tuesday with TFE' live web show, editor Tom Ehman outlined what he believes to be the state of the play with potential challengers. Ehman opened with the comment 'I think Jimmy [Spithill] and Larry [Ellison] are done.' Ehman refused to elaborate on the reasons why he held that view. He added that he didn't know if Ellison had made up his mind one way or the other as to whether he would compete again - on the Challenger side, which all players admit if much more fun than the isolation (except for the Match just completed) of the Defender.

Ehman added that he believed Ellison, like everyone else, would be waiting until they saw the Protocol was revealed at the end of next week.

Key points in the Protocol will be the nationality rules and percentage of crew required to be passport holders of the defending/challenging club. How many boats can be built and when they can be launched. The construction in country rules. The Int Jury/Arbitration panel rules. Entry fees and performance bonds and payment dates; opening and closing date for entries and other relevant issues.

The AC36 class will not be announced until November. Ehman's pick is for a 'TP52 on steroids', but then flicked into the conversation that it could be 62fter to a 'box rule'. Ehman added that Luna Rossa Patron Patrizio Bertelli had owned a TP52 'Prada'. Ehman reported that Bertelli's skipper, Max Sirena having now left Emirates Team New Zealand where he had been working in the team for the past two years, 'one hears that they are buying a Super Series 52 - probably Quantum - the Richard de Vos owned SS52 - because it is the best boat. That is starting to sound to me like some box rule type boat 52 or 62 is going to be in the Cup.'

(Quite whether even a 62ft monohull has the presence for an America's Cup is a bit of a stretch - being shorter than the Volvo 65's used for the current edition of the Volvo Ocean Race. The AC50 had head-turning presence through its pace and performance. The AC72 did much the same.)

'We are also continuing to hear that the de Vos family, who also own a big chunk of Quantum Sails, will be involved in a challenge - and I'm starting to hear that it will be with the New York Yacht Club.

Ehman reported that he had heard from a reliable source that de Vos would combine with another group and the two would go ahead as a single Challenge for New York YC, the original winners of the America's Cup.

Also on Ehman's slate of possible entries was Tony Langley the owner of the Super Series 52 racer Gladiator, a largely self-made British billionaire and industrialist, who could form a second British Challenger.

One new point that could be in the Protocol is a limitation on the number of teams that can be entered by clubs domiciled in any one country. That would be a first for the America's Cup Challenger Selection Series, which had four teams from the USA in the 1987 Louis Vuitton Cup in Fremantle.

At the other end of the sailing spectrum, the O'pen BIC have staged their first major regatta of the new season at Taipa Sailing Club in the Far North.

The NZ-wide program is backed by Sir Russell Coutts who puts a large amount of time into the project, not to mention the financial backing.

It is the third program working in New Zealand to get kids into sailing at an entry level. While some would prefer to see a single integrated program, the fact is that the more programs, the more ground is being covered, the more kids there will be picked up and drawn into the sport.

The advantage of the O'pen BIC is that it is robust, well-established worldwide has a good sailing performance easily stepping into the next level of sailing and introduces the sailors to high-performance sailing.

The rig is simple but works and is reasonably high spec. But the ability to sail with a reduced rig is what sets the class out from the rest. It makes a huge difference - as those who have ever been involved in teaching learn to will appreciate.

The best part of the O'pen BIC class is seeing the young sailors having a lot of fun sailing in some beautiful locations.

It's a great mix.

Good sailing!

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