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Sail-World NZ - May 11, 2021: 470 win, Leading Finns, New York pops a Mother's Day surprise

by Richard Gladwell, Sail-World.com/nz 11 May 00:16 PDT 11 May 2021
New Zealand - Day 6 - Open Mens European 470 championship - Vilamoura, Portugal - May 2021 © Joao Costa Ferreira

Welcome to Sail-World.com's New Zealand e-magazine for May 11, 2021, as with last week this edition comes to you from Melbourne, we return tomorrow.

While the sailing scene in this part of the world has not returned to pre-Covid levels, it is heading well down the path.

In this edition we feature the RS Feva Nationals sailed at Manly SC which attracted a strong fleet - in a class which is rapidly expanding. More on that in coming issues.

On Saturday, Paul Snow-Hansen and Dan Willcox created a great win in the Open European 470 Championships, sailed in Vilamoura, in southern Portugal.

The series was generally sailed in winds below 12kts, which on some days when the Oscar/Pumping flag was hoisted gave as good a display of air-rowing as you will see.

The New Zealand crew led the series for a time and then dropped back to second overall. They left themselves with the task of having to beat their rival for the title, Kevin Peponnet and Jeremie Mion (France), by five places. A difficult task in just a ten boat medal race fleet.

While the New Zealanders led the Medal race for a time, a wind shift/increase in pressure dropped them down the fleet - even behind the crack Australian crew of Matt Belcher and Will Ryan. The Kiwis were able to wriggle past groups of boats to put up a wall between them and their French rivals - finishing with a 12 point margin on the French and able to win the Open European Championship title.

Going into the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, if indeed that regatta does go ahead, Snow-Hansen and Willcox have peaked at the right time, and in light conditions as their skipper sails in his third Olympic Regatta and his crew his second.

Also, in Portugal, but on the NW coast bordering the Atlantic Ocean, the Finn Gold Cup is under way - with one day of sailing out of the three scheduled. New Zealand is well placed, with Andy Maloney leading the regatta and defending world champion, Josh Junior lies fifth overall in the 60 boat fleet. After the first day of sailing, storms and heavy Atlantic swells have put an end to the conclusion of further racing. One more race needs to be sailed to form a minimum series, with two race days left in which to do it.

Depending on what the Mid Year Meeting of World Sailing, currently under way, decides, this Gold Cup is set to be the last for the Finn class as an Olympic singlehander, and the class - which has been part of the sailing Olympics for close to 70 years. Most of the great sailing names associated with Olympic sailing history have competed in the Finn class - usually at Olympic level. They include Paul Elvstrom, Ben Ainslie, and former IOC President Jacques Rogge.

That Mid-Year Decision will effectively exclude males above 85kgs from the Olympics, which is an action of which World Sailing should be completely ashamed and forever vilified.

On Sunday morning, Mother's Day lunches were disrupted by the announcement from New York Yacht Club that they were lodging a Challenge for the 37th America's Cup and submitted a. 156-page draft Protocol

The AC36 Protocol, which was a complex document, ran to just over 60pages.

The key points of the New York proposal are are explained here.

The proposals from New York are not new and have come out several times from US yacht clubs - however, New York's one is very comprehensive and is the first we have been able to understand how the whole deal could unfold.

The underlying question with the proposed New York Protocol is if you win the America's Cup - what does a team get other than the prestige of having won the esteemed trophy?

To our eyes, it seems that all the Defender gets out of winning is the immediate right to appoint the Chairman of the Board of the Cup Corporations and the Chairman of the Commission.

The new Cup winners then have to go and watch the Challengers run their exclusive series to find a way, via a yacht race to select who has the right to pick a new Board/Commission Chairman for the next Cup and be able to stage a Cup in their home town three editions hence.

Aside from the trophy - what does a winning Cup team actually win? They have lost the home venue. They're excluded from the Challenger Series.

The event they once had the right to organise and control/approve is now run by three New York State registered Corporations with CE's and employees who are ongoing between Cups.

All Cup and team budgets are now subject to inspection and reporting by an Audit company to ensure that budget and spends stay within prescribed caps.

The Protocol doesn't say where the Corporations will be based, but one presumes they will either be at the Cup Venue (away from the Defender) or have a permanent home their state of incorporation, along with the Cup Auditor - New York?

The Protocol doesn't say this, but invariably, as these organisations evolve, they tend to put down roots and develop middle management spread.

The time between Cups, three years initially and just two years after 2035 is not enough for a new Defender to put their stamp on the event, which is their right under the Deed of Gift.

The reality is likely that an incoming Defender will get a briefing from the Chief Executives of the Cup Corporations on the state of the play and be told that there is no way of turning this new Titanic.

The Defender gets 40% of any surplus from a Cup, and their home city gets to host a Cup in six years, or three cycles distant. That assumes the Defender survives the next three cycles - which, given the backgrounds of the three Challengers in Auckland, and others in the past couple of Cups, is a big assumption.

There is little point in building new legacy facilities for a host city as the Cup is only in the Venue for a few months- particularly if the New York YC's dream is realised and the Cup grows to 15 teams under their proposals.

The practice sailing time is limited to 100 days per year and confined to the summer months of the hemisphere in which the team wishes to operate. Teams like American Magic and INEOS Team UK, with cold winters, are spared having to relocate to summer training camps in warmer climes.

In the past, initiatives similar to that of the New York Yacht Club have been short-circuited by holding Challenger Meetings in the venue of the forthcoming America's Cup. However, ETNZ elected not to do that for the 36th America's Cup. With the current COVID climate - travel for an event like this is not possible - and a Zoom meeting a poor substitute, given that some key players will always be badly out of their convenient time-zone.

It is also very debatable if a boat like the AC75 would have survived getting through a NYYC proposed consensus process and structure.

The draft protocol also prescribes: "As mentioned in the [default course provisions of the] Deed of Gift, the course must be on the ocean, the sea, or on an arm of the sea, free from headlands, practicable in all parts for vessels with the draft established in the Class Rule plus one meter of charted depth."

That would seem to preclude the use of stadium courses, and finding flat water on the open sea is not easy - and as we have seen many times, rough water and foiling boats do not mix.

Where does that take us? Back to the displacement monohull area, where New York YC has real strength in the Maxi 72 class and also TP52 racing.

The Protocol calls for a build-up in teams to six to eight for the next Cup (AC37) and then adding two teams per cycle with a maximum of 15 teams.

Quite how that goal is reconciled with the space required at a venue that was the home of a Cup winner three cycles ago is not explained. Unlike the current America's Cup class and many before them, the new class can only be hauled with the permission of the Regatta Director.

The Protocol also talks of the high turnover of AC boat design and type - with all since 2007, lasting just one cycle. NYYC and many others have quite correctly pointed out that the rate of churn is a negative factor on the growth of the Cup, and few would disagree with their sentiments.

The quandary is how a boat like the AC75 would emerge through a design consensus process, or if the Cup would just become the domain of an inshore racing monohull of maybe 90-100ft long, in which all designs quickly settle into the same corner of the rule after a couple of Cup cycles?

The club also correctly identifies the need to develop and protect the used America's Cup class market - which is a basic for any new teams to enter the America's Cup game.

Not given a mention is the fact that for all its flaws and perceived shortcomings, the America's Cup has survived for 150 years or racing and two Court cases with just a Deed of Gift covering a few pages.

The Cup is far from broken. Sure it can always be improved. But if a group like Team New Zealand, from a country of just 5million people, for 35 years, has been able to compete with distinction in everything from 12Metres, a 120ft Monohull, Int America's Cup Class V1-V5, AC72's, AC50's and now AC75's, sailing at Fremantle, San Diego, Auckland, Valencia, San Francisco and Bermuda - why is it so hard for others to match that standard?

For all the latest news from NZ and around the world, see the Top 50 stories below.

Between newsletters, you can follow all the racing and developments in major and local events on www.sail-world.com/nz or by scrolling to the top of the site, select New Zealand, and get all the latest news and updates from the sailing world.

Good sailing!

Richard Gladwell
NZ Editor

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

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