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July 11, 2018 - Sparks fly at last in Cup

11/07/2018


Sail-World NZ e-magazine - July 11 - Cup sparks up at last

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Stu Bannatyne has become the first sailor to win four Whitbread/VOR Races - photo © Jeremie Lecaudey / Volvo Ocean Race


Dear Recipient Name


Welcome to Sail-World.com's New Zealand e-magazine for July 11, 2018

After the tumult of the Volvo Ocean Race finish, the past week has seemed a little tame by comparison.

The announcement of the America's Cup entries proved to be a damp squib, with nothing new emerging.

Mainstream sports commentators were quick to seize on the point that three Challengers were America's Cup-lite stating the obvious that entries were well shy of the seven or eight anticipated.

An interview with four times America's Cup winner, Brad Butterworth on RadioLive on Sunday put a much needed spark into the regatta that has been notable for its bonhomie for the past 12 months.

Butterworth responded to a series of leading questions in his usual way - when he can't think of a politically correct answer - and just tells it how it is.

The interviewers seemed determined to hang some of the "blame" for America's Cup-lite on Team New Zealand, and its CEO Grant Dalton in particular.

Brad Butterworth at the Media Conference following the loss of the America's Cup in 2010 - photo © Richard Gladwell
Brad Butterworth at the Media Conference following the loss of the America's Cup in 2010 - photo © Richard Gladwell

Responding to leading questions as to whether Team New Zealand was well liked [amongst the sailing community]. Butterworth would not initially be drawn. "As a group of sailors and the way they have fought back and won - you've got to take your hat off to them."

In response to the follow-up question, Butterworth responded " You guys are pushing me to talk about Dalton. Of course, he is a bit of a blunt nail. He plays pretty hard in all aspects of it. He's going to upset a few people. But that's the way it goes, and that's the way he plays that game. There's not much you can do about that."

When pushed further as to whether Dalton's hard demeanour was a reason for the lack of entries, Butterworth chuckled: "I don't think so. Maybe a few other people would disagree with me, but I don't think so," he laughed.

Looking back at some older stories on Sail-World jogged memories of the situation in 2009 when there was not a lot of love lost between Dalton and Butterworth. In this edition, we've added some of the copy and newspaper front-page images back into the original story about Sunday's interview.

Four time America's Cup winner and Hall of Famer Brad Butterworth, the tactican for Team Alinghi in 2003 and 2007, speaks about inductee Ernesto Bertarelli - Hall of Fame induction for Ernesto Bertarelli Alinghi and Lord Dunraven - photo © Carlo Borlenghi http://www.carloborlenghi.com
Four time America's Cup winner and Hall of Famer Brad Butterworth, the tactican for Team Alinghi in 2003 and 2007, speaks about America's Cup Hall of Fame inductee Ernesto Bertarelli - photo © Carlo Borlenghi http://www.carloborlenghi.com

Butterworth's interview has been the top rating story on Sail-World since it was published - if you have missed it click here or read it in the story list below.

The RadioLive interview on Sunday followed one that was much further off the beam - broadcast on Sky TV's "The Press Box" last Wednesday week.

That had several of the mainstream sporting media trotting out the usual invective on the America's Cup and Team New Zealand.

Fortunately, the segment was given some balance by TVNZ's Abby Wilson, who let the others run off at the mouth for a few minutes before countering with a few hard facts that didn't gel at all well with some of the earlier fantasy.

The line-up from the monohull era - Unveiling day. Valencia, 2007. - photo © Gilles Martin-Raget/Oracle Racing.com http://www.oracleteamusamedia.com/
The line-up from the monohull era - Unveiling day. Valencia, 2007. While numbers were up the Challenger racing was one-sided - photo © Gilles Martin-Raget/Oracle Racing.com http://www.oracleteamusamedia.com/

Abby was in Bermuda for the last America's Cup and saw the event unfold first hand, and has stayed across the game and its nuances.

Hers was a superb effort taking on the others singlehanded - bringing a welcome dollop of accuracy to the "discussion".

The angle taken by the mainstream sports media was that the America's Cup Defender owed it to New Zealand to get as many Challengers into the Auckland event as possible - even if that meant evening up the technical and sailing advantage that New Zealand enjoys as a legacy of the last America's Cup.

Do they also think that the All Blacks with an 80% win record should give opposing teams a 20pt start just to make a game of it? Of course not. So why does Team New Zealand need to soften their competitive advantage?

Kevin Shoebridge, Grant Dalton, Matteo di Nora and Glenn Ashby with the America's Cup in Bermuda - photo © Emirates Team New Zealand
Kevin Shoebridge, Grant Dalton, Matteo di Nora and Glenn Ashby with the America's Cup in Bermuda - should they really be making it easier for Challengers? © Emirates Team New Zealand

Some have commented that the USD$1million late entry fee is an issue. But during the week in discussions with a couple of potential Challengers, who had not yet entered, none mentioned the USD$1million late entry fee as being an issue. Team New Zealand has confirmed they have offered the Challengers a basic design package. That gives the late starters a leg-up and will give them one good boat and be a big step towards their second AC75 if that is what they are going to do. Neither does the new 100% Nationality Rule seem to be a deterent.

For sure the competitive advantage enjoyed by Team New Zealand in Bermuda is rather daunting. They led Oracle Team USA around 49 of 54 marks in the nine races sailed. That is a walloping by any measure - but then America's Cup Matches are usually rather one-sided affairs. Team NZ's battle with Artemis Racing was much more even with the Swedish challenger having a slight advantage in mark leading statistics.

Another point missed by many critical of America's Cup-lite is that three well funded, well organised Challengers, or Super Teams are a much more formidable Defence proposition for Emirates Team New Zealand.

GKSS Match Cup Sweden day 3 - photo © Paul Wennerholm
GKSS Match Cup Sweden day 3 - photo © Paul Wennerholm
It means that every race in the Challenger Round Robin, the Semi-Finals and Finals is a hard one against solid opposition.

From Team New Zealand's perspective it would be much better for the Challenger ranks to be padded out with several first time, one boat Challengers who are there for the experience and exposure. That way the Super Teams would not get the opportunity of racing two days on/one day off - which appears to be the way the racing schedule will work out with just three entries.

Contrast that situation with previous Cups enjoying double digit Challenger entries - the top teams have only got a couple of hard races each round, with the outcomes of the other contests being quite predictable.

Under the current version of the Protocol, there are Repechages built into the schedule - so there is less of the sudden death at the end of the elimination rounds as happened in Bermuda.

That means still more solid racing for the Challengers against at least one, and maybe two Super Teams.

Grant Dalton's best Defence strategy, at this juncture, is to fatten up the Challenger ranks with first-time teams that will stall the amount of hard racing between the Super Teams until the Semi-Finals.

Gemma Jones and Jason Saunders - Day 2, Nacra 17 Worlds La Grande Motte, France - photo © Nacra 17 World Championship
Gemma Jones and Jason Saunders - Day 2, Nacra 17 Worlds La Grande Motte, France - photo © Nacra 17 World Championship
Currently, the European Championships for the Nacra 17, 49er and 49erFX classes are underway in Gdynia, Poland.

The regatta is a warm-up for the Sailing World Championships in Aarhus, Denmark which starts in just over two weeks, and is the first Olympic Qualifier for Tokyo.

Several of the top crews have not competed in the combined 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 classes.

After three days of competition in the mixed gender crew, Nacra 17, New Zealand's Gemma Jones and Jason Saunders are leading the fleet, which includes the 2016 Olympic Silver medalist in sixth overall. A new combination of America's Cup helmsman Nathan Outteridge (AUS) and his sister Hayley (ex 49erFX) are sitting in eighth position. Ben Saxon and Nikki Bonniface (GBR) are second, 4pts behind the Kiwis. 2008 Gold medalist in the Tornado, Fernando Echavarri is in third six points behind the New Zealanders.

If Jones and Saunders can carry the day, Emma Jones (24) could become the first female helm to win a major championship. She already passed one milestone with her win in the Medal Race at the Rio Olympics. The Nacra 17, while claiming to be mixed crew has a class stereotype role where most of the helms are male, and the crews are female.

Hopefully, in 2020, Gemma Jones can crack through this "glass ceiling" and prove that women can compete with men in the foiling Olympic catamaran. Next step the America's Cup? Or maybe the F-50?

Mission accomplished Stu Bannatyne (left) with Charles Caudrelier (skipper, Dongfeng Racing) Leg 11, from Gothenburg to The Hague, day 04 on board Dongfeng. 24 June, . - photo © Martin Keruzore / Volvo Ocean Race
Mission accomplished Stu Bannatyne (left) with Charles Caudrelier (skipper, Dongfeng Racing) Leg 11, from Gothenburg to The Hague, day 04 on board Dongfeng. 24 June, . - photo © Martin Keruzore / Volvo Ocean Race
Stu Bannatyne sets new Round the World record

While the focus on Leg 11 of the Volvo Ocean Race was on whether Peter Burling or Blair Tuke would become the first to win the Triple Crown of sailing - and be the first to win an Olympic Gold Medal, the America's Cup and the Volvo Ocean Race - it was close, but no cigar. Largely unnoticed was the achievement of Stu Bannatyne in becoming the first sailor in history to win four Whitbread/Volvo round the world races from the eight events he has sailed.

The former World Youth World Singlehanded Champion (when they sailed it in standard rig Lasers) is now back on the loft floor at Doyle Sails. We have a couple of stories in this edition on his thoughts on the next edition of the fully crewed round the world race in 2021.

Stu Bannatyne on CAMPER during the last Volvo Ocean Race - photo © Volvo Ocean Race
Stu Bannatyne on CAMPER during the last Volvo Ocean Race - photo © Volvo Ocean Race
Follow all the racing and developments in major and local events on Sail-World.com by scrolling to the top of the site, select New Zealand, and get all the latest news and updates from the sailing world.

All stories are available on Sail-World.com/nz

Good sailing!

Richard Gladwell
NZ Editor

 
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Extreme Sailing Series™ Act 4, Cascais day 3 - photo © Extreme Sailing Series
Extreme Sailing Series™ Act 4, Cascais day 3 - photo © Extreme Sailing Series

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Gemma Jones was the only female helm in the Medal Race for the Nacra 17, Mixed Multihull at the Rio De Janeiro Olympics - photo © Richard Gladwell
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