Please select your home edition
Edition
SW newsletters (top)

Lessons for AC75's from a gale-swept SailGP Cowes

by Richard Gladwell, Sail-World.com/nz 14 Aug 2019 21:51 PDT 15 August 2019
Series winner Team Australia - SailGP Cowes, August 10-11, 2019 © Chris Cameron / SailGP

The penultimate SailGP 2019 circuit regatta has come and gone.

For those who missed it, England turned on a fresh Solent gale, and Day 1 was cancelled 24 hours out from its scheduled start.

Day 2, the final day of racing was completed in fresh winds, which were still sufficient to cause some damage and capsizes.

As it always does, the Solent asked plenty of questions of the competitors. Team Australia was a deserving winner - with a team stacked with talent from the 2017 America's Cup. Five of the six Team Australians were part of Oracle Team USA 2017, and one was with their acolyte, Softbank Team Japan.

That level of expertise really showed in the fresh conditions off Cowes, as Tom Slingsby and his team could consistently drive their F50 harder, and with more confidence than the other five teams.

To the surprise of no-one, they also became the first team in SailGP to better the 50kt mark during a race.

Three races were sailed on Sunday - and that was pushing life to the extreme - for both boats and crews.

SailGP Cowes was a very rugged regatta, with conditions comparable to Day 2 of the Semi-Finals in Bermuda, when Emirates Team New Zealand pitchpoled.

The Australians were not without their challenges, stuffing their F50 into the Solent, on a Practice Day, emerging with a broken wingsail - and an unscheduled test for their shore-team. Fortunately for the Australians, like the Kiwis in 2017, the next race day was called off - providing time for the shore team to turn a workable fix into a quality repair.

While little was made of it at the time, there was gear damage on most of the boats, which impacted their performance, and forced the crews to focus on finishing the race, rather than their place.

Sunday was a day of attrition.

Team USA capsized before the start of the first race but recovered well to sail in the next two. The home team, Britain dug in on the penultimate leg of the first race. While they recovered to finish, the damage sustained in the incident was sufficiently serious to force them out of the remaining two races.

At Cowes, we saw a repeat of the issues with the America's Cup World Series that occurred in the lead-in to the 2013 and 2017 Cup.

Running a two-day regatta is very weather dependent. Cowes could well have been a blow-out both days.

It would seem that the only real way to overcome the issue is for the regatta to be spread over two weekends as was the 2017 America's Cup Match.

The five-day gap also allows time for repairs and recovery - so in a situation where the home team is damaged on the first day - they will be back for the following weekend. Sudden death is all very well but doesn't work in a competition of this type. Teams should be eliminated by a competitive outcome and not a crash.

The seaworthiness of the race boats in SailGP has implications for the 36th America's Cup and the radical AC75 foiling monohulls.

Obviously, there are some very talented people involved in the 36th America's Cup, who will be able to come up with design changes that can be applied between now and the Match if there are issues with capsizing or nosediving.

Extrapolating the performance of the various development boats into the AC75 is not a sound practice. As Ben Ainslie told us the INEOS Team UK prototype was designed to be extreme. That was so the crew and designers could gauge the limitations of its handling and performance, rather than just opt for a safe ride.

We won't know if there really is an issue until the AC75's start sailing in the hands of top sailing professionals.

SailGP Cowes put the seaworthiness issue firmly on the America's Cup table.

Laser class rings changes

The other news of significance has been the announcement on Tuesday of the outcome of the Laser Class Rules vote.

Perhaps not surprisingly the outcome was a ringing endorsement of the rule change proposed by the World Council of the International Laser Class Association. Three vote outcomes seem to be in play, but all versions are in excess of the required 66% majority required to pass.

Quite what happens next remains to be seen.

While the media statement from ILCA says the rule change has been submitted to World Sailing for confirmation as required by Regulation 10, that is only half the story - not even that.

Regulation 10 has no less than 17 clauses and a myriad of sub-clauses. Several of those cover the appointment process for licenced builders.

So the next moves will be watched with a degree of interest. Whether the vote outcome resolves the outstanding issues is another matter entirely.

AC75's start the launch countdown

For the America's Cup teams, a vexed era came to an end with the delivery of carbon foil arms to Emirates Team New Zealand.

Although the other teams haven't commented one assumes that it was not an exclusive delivery for the America's Cup Defender.

We are now seeing the first signs of movement in the America's Cup Challenger ranks. Luna Rossa has moved their first AC75 from Persico Marine in Belgamo to the team base in Sardinia.

Images have been floating around the interweb showing what could be a disguised AC75 hull being loaded into the INEOS Team UK base in Portsmouth.

So far only one team has announced a launch date - Luna Rossa was to launch on August 25 but shifted that date to September 9. Emirates Team New Zealand is expected to launch in September - probably after Luna Rossa.

In our interview with INEOS Team UK, Ben Ainslie said they weren't too focused on a date for a launch function, preferring the lower-key approach of just getting the AC75 in the water and going sailing.

This story was first published on August 14, 2019 as the editorial in the Sail-World NZ newsletter.

To subscribe to Sail-World.com's NZ e-magazine published weekly go to the website sail-world.com/nz and click on Newsletter and Subscribe. You can see previous newsletters by clicking on Newsletter and then Archive from the drop-down menu.

To check if you have been missing one or more Sail-World newsletters - then check on Archive in the Newsletter section - and if you are missing some, then enter a new email address for you. Again the location is www.sail-world.com/NZ/newsletter

Please forward your news stories and images directly to Sail-World NZ as text in the email and attach images in the standard way for emails. Our email address is sailworldnzl@gmail.com

Or if you are a potential advertiser and want to understand how Sail-World can work for your company, website or product, then drop a line to Colin Preston whose details are in the Contact section of sail-world.com/nz

If you need to contact the Sail-World team, our phone numbers are +649 489 9267 or 021 301030 or from outside New Zealand +6421301030 and on WhatsApp at the same number. Our Skype address is sailworldnzl

Related Articles

Just how hard can it be?
You've won multiple World Championships, and not just in the one class... You've won multiple World Championships, and not just in the one class mind you. Try a very impressive three styles of boat. You even have the ultimate colour of Olympic bling in the trophy cabinet. Posted on 19 Jan
Gladwell's Line: First cross in Cagliari
Another milestone was passed in Cagliari, Sardinia this week with the first two AC75's Another milestone in the 2021 America's Cup cycle was passed in Cagliari, Sardinia this week with the first two AC75's from rival Challengers appearing on the same piece of water, and snapped as they were leaving and entering the boat harbour Posted on 18 Jan
Sail-World NZ news : Jan 16 - America's Cup News
top stories covering the AC75 action from New Zealand and around the world, and NZ national titles Read the latest newsletter from Sail-World New Zealand, with the top stories covering the AC75 action from New Zealand and around the world, and NZ national titles. Posted on 18 Jan
Maiden crew to sail Classic on Anniversary Day
‘Smiling Seductress' Rawene will sail with maiden crew on Anniversary Day The Auckland Anniversary Regatta has seen many changes over the course of its 180 year history. But one sight that's still rare to behold as the ‘A Classic' fleet of vintage yachts takes to the harbour is a majority of women on board. Posted on 17 Jan
Giesen New Year Regatta: 36 boats race in Sounds
The Marlborough Sounds delivered a complete set of wind conditions for the Giesen New Year regatta A variety of breezes prevailed for the Giesen New Year regatta and Friday's First National invitation race. Friday's invitation race was sailed in steady sea breeze of 12-15 knots enabling most crews to display their spinnaker or gennaker skills. Posted on 17 Jan
America's Cup winner joins Events Clothing
International yachting personality Brad Butterworth joins Events Clothing Well-known industry brand, Events Clothing, has announced a new majority shareholder as the uniform provider prepares for a time of expansion. Posted on 17 Jan
Sail-World: Jan 16: America's Cup Update
Welcome to Sail-World.com's New Zealand e-magazine for January 16, 20120 Welcome to Sail-World.com's New Zealand e-magazine for January 16, 20120 Posted on 15 Jan
That man Lilley
Latest Sail-World Australia newsletter from John Curnow When he won the medal race at the recent Finn Gold Cup, it was not some random event. Jake Lilley has been at it for a while. It's called work ethic... Posted on 12 Jan
P-Class: Howse wins Tanner Tauranga Cup double
Kohimarama YC's Tim Howse has won the Tanner and the Tauranga Cup for P-Class Kohimarama YC's Tim Howse has won the Tanner and Tauranga Cup for P-Class, which is being sailed at Tauranga YPBC, the home club of America's Cup champion Peter Burling, TYPBC, and birthplace of the P-class in 1923. Posted on 7 Jan
Highs and Lows
They go together in a symbiotic circle to form our weather patterns They go together in a symbiotic circle to form our weather patterns. In life, they also seem to always be in close proximity to one another, as well. Normally, this is a truly a wonderful time of year in Australia. Posted on 5 Jan
MBW newsletters (top)