Please select your home edition
Edition
Official-Event-Store-Navy 728x90 TOP

Tea Route update, Cup news, previewing the 2020 Laser Worlds

by David Schmidt 4 Feb 08:00 PST February 4, 2020
Francis Joyon aboard maxi-trimaran IDEC SPORT © IDEC Sport

While most North American sailors are still contending with cold, snow, a recently-concluded Super Bowl, and the results from the Iowa caucuses, not to mention a (recently) topsy-turvy stock market and understandable jitters surrounding the dangerous Wuhan Coronavirus, life is far simpler for the five sailors aboard the maxi trimaran IDEC Sport as skipper Francis Joyon and his four-person crew attempt to best the standing record for the 15,000 nautical mile Tea Route, which stretches from Hong Kong to London.

This historic route was once plied by the great clipper ships of yore as a "race" to bring their wares to market, and it traditionally took the square-riggers some 99 days to complete this lengthy passage. In 2018, skipper Giovanni Soldini and his crew aboard the Multi 70 trimaran Maserati sailed this distance in just 36 days, two hours, 37 minutes and two seconds, at an average pace of 17.4 knots, to establish the new reference point that Joyon and company are currently attempting to hunt down.

As of this writing, IDEC Sport had managed to rack up a lead of more than 24 hours over Maserati's reference time and had recently cleared the Cape of Good Hope. This in and of itself is impressive, as Joyon and company were not dealt an easy passage across the Indian Ocean, which failed to deliver reliable tradewind conditions. Instead, IDEC Sport had to wend her way around high- and low-pressure systems, which resulted in much higher true wind angles than the crew would have liked.

Now that the team has reached the Atlantic, the game becomes one of weaving their way through the Azores and St. Helena high-pressure systems and keeping their boatspeed as high as possible for the remaining (ballpark) 6,000 nautical miles that separate their bows from their finishing line.

Meanwhile, in America's Cup news, the Challenger of Record (CoR; Circolo Della Vela Sicilia) for the 36th America's Cup, recently posted official notice that only four of the five teams that are hoping to contest the next Cup have paid their $300,000 entry fee, which was due on January 23, 2020, for the first America's Cup World Series (ACWS) regatta, which is slated to unfurl on the waters off of Cagliari, Sardinia, from April 23-26, 2020.

As Sail-World's New Zealand editor Richard Gladwell recently reported, Stars + Stripes Team USA is the odd team out. While rumors of the team's demise have been swirling for months, failure to pay this entry fee could be a game-ender, as the Protocol requires that all teams participate in the ACWS; moreover, each team must pay their entry fees and performance bond in order to be eligible to compete in any ACWS or America's Cup race.

To be fair, Stars + Stripes Team USA, which is being led by skipper and CEO Mike Buckley and helmsman (and match-racing great) Taylor Canfield, has already ponied up the first $1,000,000 of the $2,000,000 America's Cup entry fee. Additionally, the team has a partially-built AC75, which is thought to be similar to Emirates Team New Zealand's first-generation AC75 Te Aihe, but the Protocol stipulates that all teams must participate in all ACWS events.

Should Taylor Canfield not race in Cagliari, their only hope of moving forward rests on a possible future agreement between the Defender and the Challenger of Record to modify the Protocol. And while there will likely be some pressure on these decision-makers to increase the number of "AC36" teams from four to five boats, flexibility with the rules will likely come with significant strings attached for the fledgling American team.

So, while the CoR's official notice isn't game-over for Stars + Stripes Team USA, as some political hopefuls found out this week in Iowa, the writing is now becoming discernible on the proverbial wall.

And finally, for anyone who needs a mental escape from February's cold rain and snow, the Laser Worlds (February 9-16, 2020) are set to begin next week on the waters off of Melbourne, Australia. Competition will be fierce, as it is with any world championship regatta, however five Olympic medalists will be amongst the 131 sailors (from 45 countries) that will be competing. Additionally, many countries (including the USA) will be using this high-level regatta to determine their Laser representative at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, thus adding significant pressure to an already highly competitive regatta.

Stay tuned for more news from the 2020 Laser Worlds, as it becomes known.

May the four winds blow you safely home,

David Schmidt
Sail-World.com North American Editor

Related Articles

Andy Burdick on Melges' 75th anniversary
Andy Burdick on Melges Performance Sailboats' 75th anniversary I checked in with Andy Burdick, president of Melges Performance Sailboats, via email, to learn more the company's proud boatbuilding history. Posted on 21 May
In conversation with Grapefruit's Andy Yeomans
From large-scale events to social distance signage for your club or business The Covid-19 crisis has caused the cancellation of all large events, wiping out the core of Grapefruit's business, but Andy soon had the team at work producing the social distancing signage and equipment. Posted on 20 May
Paul Westlake on North Sails' TP52 R&D work
David Schmidt checks out the development work in the TP52 class David Schmidt checked in with Paul “Flipper” Westlake, North Sails' executive vice president, via email, to learn more about North Sails' sail development work for the TP52 class. Posted on 19 May
X2. Times three...
This is the third instalment of information about the exciting new X2 by Farr This is the third instalment of information about the exciting new X2 by Farr. Since its inception we have been excited about the project, if for no other reason than it stood up to be counted as a true racing boat. Posted on 17 May
Terry Hutchinson guests on the Happy Hour podcast
Executive Director and Skipper of America's Cup Challenger NYYC American Magic In this episode we hear from Terry Hutchinson, Executive Director and Skipper of America's Cup Challenger NYYC American Magic. We hear about hours of grinding, preparing for New Zealand amidst COVID-19, and Terry even tells the boys "to grow a pair"... Posted on 16 May
The Colossus
There are boat builders the world over, and then there is Groupe Beneteau There are boat builders the world over, and then there is Groupe Beneteau. The conglomerate is one giant powerhouse, building boats across Europe, and in the USA as well. Posted on 15 May
The Red Mist falls in THE splASHES
Brits and Aussies clash in virtual Portsmouth & Sydney Harbour There's nothing quite like the rivalry between the British and Australians in sport, exemplified in cricket, rugby and sailing; so with eSailing taking such a hold in the past couple of months during lockdown, it was time for the inaugural splASHES. Posted on 14 May
Reflections on a life afloat: Frostbiting lessons
Latest musings from Sail-World's David Schmidt in the USA Given the amount of time that Washington State's novel coronavirus lockdown has given me for contemplation, I've recently found myself reflecting on my first day of frostbiting - and Laser sailing - in 1989 at the ripe age of 13. Posted on 12 May
The great grass-roots revival?
We are all united by our passion for being on the water We've all been missing our sailing during lockdown, but the months we've been off the water have given us time to reflect on what it is about sailing that we really miss most. Posted on 10 May
America's Cup and life according to Vasco Vascotto
A fascinating insight on Happy Hour with Stretch & Stirfry On this week's Happy Hour with Stretch and Stirfry, we chat to America's Cup sailor and 25 time yachting World Champion, the Luna Rossa tactician - Vasco Vascotto. Posted on 9 May
RS Sailing 2020 - RSSS - FOOTERNorth Sails 2019 - NSVictoryList - FooterMarine Resources 2019 - Footer