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Zhik Paris 2024

It's just a stick

by John Curnow, Sail-World.com AUS Editor 17 Jun 15:00 PDT
Alinghi Red Bull Racing - AC75 - Day 30 - June 13, 2024 - Barcelona © Ivo Rovira / America's Cup

It was just like watching an enthusiastic kid. Alinghi's Silvio Arrivabene was totally in the 'nothing to see here' mode, and moreover, was keener to get into the 'maybe exceeding them' remarks about their targets. Did someone say, Spinal Tap?

Thankfully, no-one was hurt, because the rig failure on bear away was as swift as it was distinct. Something like four seconds from first sign of crumple to being totally immersed in the drink.

Given the fracturing, initially, and still even now, I am utterly amazed that there was no shrapnel effect, for carbon splinters only have depleted uranium to look up to when it comes to damage inflicted, and I do not think the PFDs have a solid Kevlar layer...

This is also to say absolutely nothing of the whipping and lasso dramas from standing and running rigging and sails. Our own Richard Gladwell gives his usual, ultra-detailed, piece-by-piece account (and yes, pun fully intended seeing as we have no medical issues to deal with). Indeed, if there is something to be said about the America's Cup, then RG will be doing it.

For me there are two almost dichotomous aspects when it comes to the AC. The tech versus the spectacle.

During AC36 I got into the wings with this piece. There was even some talk of AI back then with this item. Anyway, I am not sure yet, but I have a funny feeling for AC37 I am going to be a foil geek.

Not only because the new ones look totally amazing, but because there is the filter down effect, and the F Word is going to be crucial to maintaining interest and engagement in sailing moving forward, as we discussed in Pre-eminence.

Additionally, there is also the crossover to large, high-speed motor yachts and powercats that are both Gin Palaces and Express Gamefishermen.

Now as for the spectacle, our Managing Editor, Mark Jardine, covered it off eloquently in, This isn't what I expected: "There is something I'm already missing on the latest generation of AC75s, and that's crew movement. We literally can't see a thing of what they're up to, apart from the slight bobbing of the cyclors' heads as they generate the power needed to control these foiling leviathans. No-one moves about the boat; no-one pops out of their pod until the boat is stopped.

"All we see is the result of their work: The change of course, the slight adjustment of the mainsail and jib, the main foils going up and down and, frankly, not much else. I worry that after the novelty of seeing how these boats perform, and then later how they line up against each other, my interest will wane. Will I watch a full race once I know one boat is faster than another? I guess I won't know until the time comes."

Exactly, Mark. Exactly. Yes, not many watched a whole race of the 12s, either, but that was pre-Goldfish days, and now it is all about attention, attention, attention. No wonder everyone is counting the number of shots that go into their coffee, or sculling cans of Red Bull. Mind you, we could also highlight what's going to be the medical outcome of all of that?

Still, there is no doubt that the AC75s are going to be quick. Really quick. I like how the deck sweeper thing has been taken to the total extreme, and there would be no crossing of the deck in rapid fire time, even if you wanted to. No ultra-fine Ristretto would give you the kind of wings needed for that flight, nor the same kind of wheels as Usain Bolt, let alone the time to do the 'Archer Pose' at the end.

In a whole, "be around long enough and you get to see everything come back into favour", I cannot miss just how much this generation of AC75 look like a giant scow Moth, except for there being an actual prow, of course. Not that the AC75s get to be in lowrider mode much, but that one flowing form expressed mainly by the sheer line certainly looks Back To The Future to me. And if you squint, you cannot see the bumps of the helmets sticking out, like some giant game of Whac-A-Mole.

Yes, I'm excited. You not only have the 75s to get into, but the 40s with the Youth teams, and also the Women's campaigns all happening in the same window just has to be good.

Will there be the morning crew run going through the opposition camps? Probably not. Will local watering holes have team members dreaming up ways to get memorabilia placed on the wall for posterity. Unlikely. Will there be the powerboat drag races from the team owner/coterie armada when there is no breeze? Can't see it.

Perhaps things getting to just one stop shy of fisticuffs in the daily press conferences? Doubt it. A band collecting royalties for a theme song played every single day? Let alone it being given freely in the interest of country pride. Surely you jest? Yet there will definitely be plenty of high-end stereos on all manner of craft attending, should someone be brave enough.

Still, in terms of launch extravaganza, Alinghi showed us the way, so there is still a wee promise for some hoopla somewhere along the journey.

I do hope so.

For all our sakes.

OK. There it is. There is so much more on the group's websites for you. Simply use the search field, or 'edition' pull-down menu up the top on the right of the masthead to find it all. Please enjoy your yachting, stay safe, and thanks for tuning into Sail-World.com

John Curnow
Sail-World.com AUS Editor

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