Yacht Racing World Newsletter – Issue 3


Poll shows vast majority of Kiwis want Team NZ to defend America's Cup at home

A new poll shows Kiwis strongly want Team New Zealand to defend the America’s Cup in New Zealand but are split on extra funding from the government.

Team New Zealand will reveal where the next edition of the Cup will be hosted in an announcement on September 17 with Auckland still an outside chance but battling heavyweight funding from three overseas cities with Cork in Ireland, Jeddah in Saudi Arabia and one other venue reportedly on the short-list.

The poll, conducted by Curia Market research involving 1000 people over the age of 18 drawn randomly from 24,000 telephone numbers from August 12-17, shows 72 per cent are in favour of the America’s Cup being held here next time.

Only 14 per cent wanted the Cup to go overseas with the rest unsure or refusing to answer the question.

The prospect of Team New Zealand defending the cup overseas came after the champion syndicate couldn’t agree to terms with the New Zealand government over funding for the event after their successful defence in Auckland in March.

Asked if they were aware the government funding offer was $31m compared to $133m for this year’s regatta, 45 per cent replied yes, with 51 per cent replying no.


Vendée Globe
Kevin Escoffier is looking to set the record straight in 2024

Kevin Escoffier became famous on the last Vendée Globe for all the wrong reasons.

Rescued by Jean Le Cam after his IMOCA PRB broke up spectacularly early in the Southern Oceans, the episode overshadows the fact that Escoffier was very much in contention in what, after all, was just his second ever solo IMOCA race, only two years after he made the jump from crewed round the world races and record setting.

Now the 41 year old racer from Saint Malo is looking to put the record straight on the next edition.

With long time Vendée Globe supporters PRB, Escoffier has taken a pragmatic short cut to having a new boat on the water as quickly as possible, taking over a part build Guillaume Verdier designed IMOCA which was to be raced crewed in The Ocean Race. The boat is being finished by Jason Carrington Boats in England. The Vendée Globe website caught up with Kevin in Palma, Mallorca at the Copa del Rey where he was in his role as an ambassador for North Sails clothing.

Vendée Globe: So this new boat is a great opportunity to be on the water quickly?

" I just consider myself so lucky to have PRB supporting me and to be building a new boat, I would have liked to be able to build a brand new boat from the start, but we've got money to be able to change the bow and change a few things. The main thing was to have a boat that is ready quickly so that I can be able to go sailing since I don’t have a boat at all of course.

You have been many times a project manager building boats as a composites engineer it must be frustrating not to be involved, hands on, in the build of your own boat?

Well I have built a few boats before this, it's not like I've never built a boat. But, hey ho, I will build the next one in four years. Seriously, I will! In saying that we were incredibly impressed by the level of detail and the work at Jason Carrington Boats. And the Anglo Saxon mentality was maybe different to France when we said ‘we want to change the bow’. Jason said ‘Ok let’s do it’ I am not sure you would have got that same reply in some French yards!

VG: How have you adapted the boat for your needs?

This is a boat that has that has been built for The Ocean Race which is a bit different from the Vendee Globe and singlehanded as well. Because when you do The Ocean Race you know you go to China and you've got a lot of upwind and light winds and you want a boat that has the max length on the water (max waterline length).

But for us for single handed, I think we're more looking for boat that is good downwind, with a bow that is not nose diving, especially in big waves. So that's why we put the bow bit higher than what it was on the first design of the boat.

So it will be a boat that is a bit faster downwind and less in light wind, so we accept to have a boat a bit slower in light winds to be faster when you've got a higher sea state and downwind as well. And we changed the cockpit in order to be more focused on single handed.

VG: Is it quite similar to Apivia – Verdier’s design which crossed the finish line first?

Yes, the hull is similar but the back is a bit wider, we are talking 10 cm and the roof is not the same shape but the hull is very similar except now for the bow. The cockpit too is quite enclosed with only four winches, it is a bit wider than Charlie’s boat to be able to stack sails to windward and back in the boat. it's enclosed especially at the back in order to be able to fit sails inside the cockpit.

I think one of the main goals on these boats will be able to play on the centre of gravity. Because sometimes when you are using the foils, you want a centre of gravity that is forward. And with one month in the south, you may still sail without the foils, and at this moment you want the centre of gravity much more back in the boat. So, we've designed this boat in order to be able to play a lot with the centre of gravity with stacking and also with the water ballast.


Yacht Racing Life
A taste of what might have been

The International Olympic Committee’s rejection of the mixed-sex double-handed offshore event proposed by World Sailing for the the Paris 2024 Olympic regatta in Marseille means that sailing’s arguably most engaging and entertaining discipline will not be showcased to a mainstream sporting audience.

That’s a pity for all concerned, as the potential for captivating content coming from a fleet small one-design keelboats, co-skippered by top class male and female sailors would be high.

Case in point – this short film by Tim Butt from Vertigo Films chronicling the highs and lows of British duo Shirley Robertson and Henry Bomby’s Sunfast 3300 entry Swell in the double-handed class at the recent Rolex Fastnet Race.

It’s a great watch and really gives you a feel for what it was like to be there on the boat through the stormy start from the jam-packed Solent, the pair’s 0200 pitch black rounding the Fastnet Rock, and their 24-hour light airs match race along the English Channel to the finish in Cherbourg.

Just imagine the live broadcast Leon Sefton and a full production team from The Ocean Race could have put together in 2024, with a full fleet of boats scattered across the Bay of Marseille, and a clutch of shiny Olympic medals up for grabs for the first three boats home.

Opportunity missed.

Yachting World
Extraordinary boats: Banque Populaire XI

Rupert Holmes gets the inside line on the new Banque Populaire XI the latest Ultim from the French banking giant.

Banque Populaire is one of the world’s most experienced and successful sailing teams, and was the force behind Armel Le Cléac’h’s 2016 record-breaking Vendée Globe victory, they now have a new Ultime trimaran in the form of Banque Populaire XI.

Only a year after her launch, the previous giant trimaran Banque Populaire IX crashed out of the 2018 Route du Rhum in spectacular fashion, having already capsized once before, and was declared an insurance write off after being towed in broken chunks back to shore.

Much has been learned from the experience with that boat and the new vessel incorporates radical improvements that put it a big leap ahead of her predecessor in terms of both performance and, more importantly, safety and reliability.

Banque Populaire Xl is the result of a colossal 150,000 hours of design and construction work.

Like Banque Populaire IX, this boat was conceived with a single objective in mind – for one person to sail round the world faster than anyone else. The record to beat is 42 days, 16 hours set by François Gabart in 2017.

Structural failure of a cross beam failing after a collision with an unidentified floating object (UFO) was the cause of the loss of Banque Populaire IX.

Her successor, Banque Populaire XI, benefits from an entirely new concept for structural engineering of the cross beams, plus considerable work on both the foils and the sail plan to make foiling more stable over sustained periods.

“We have worked a lot on the foils, daggerboard and rudders, as well as with the sails, to go fast and be stable,” Clément Duraffourg, the team’s head of data acquisition and analytics, revealed. As a result the new boat’s foils are almost twice the size of those of the previous boat.

A further important plank in the project is a state of the art simulator bought from Emirates Team New Zealand. While the boat was in build this enabled the team to spend more than a year trialling numerous different parameters.

As a result, Duraffourg says, even before the boat hit the water they had good base settings for the foil adjustment across a wide range of conditions. Given the interplay between the main foils, plus the T-foils on the centreboard and each of the three rudders, this task is extremely complex, yet absolutely critical to success.

“The bigger foils, including the rudder T-foils, make the boat more stable when flying and add righting moment, which means increased safety,” skipper Armel Le Cléac’h told me as the boat emerged from the shed at CDK Technologies in Lorient.


Sail World
Coutts says SailGP will become profitable when title sponsorship is signed

Russell Coutts, co-founder of the SailGP circuit, has told SportBusiness.com that the SailGP circuit, will become profitable once the title sponsorship for the series is signed – writes Richard Gladwell.

The Larry Ellison backed circuit currently stands at eight teams, however a ninth team has been signed, leaving only one franchise available for a new team.

Coutts says the circuit, which sails F50 wing-sailed foiling catamarans developed from the 2017 America's Cup, will be locked at 10 teams.

The Olympic Gold medalist and five times America's Cup winner told SportsBusiness “we’re locking the number of franchises off at ten. Once we’ve reached that then the only way in is to buy into one of the existing teams."

“We’re now getting approaches from various entities and there will be some announcements coming up.”

He goes on to say that once the ten team slots have been taken, then new players wanting to enter the eight venue SailGP circuit, will have to buy an existing franchise. Coutts expects the SailGP teams to change hands for around USD$20million, which he believes is very good value for an investor.

INEOS Sports did that, for an undisclosed price, with the British franchise, before the end of Season 1. The move brought team principal, America's Cup winner and the most successful sailor in Olympic history, Ben Ainslie to the SailGP fold.

Ainslie put his mark on the event with a commanding win in his first event, defeating Olympic Gold medalist and America's Cup Champion Tom Slingsby (AUS). Slingsby's Australia SailGP team won the $1million winner-takes-all for winning the final event in Season 1.


Robb Report
How this new extreme sailing league is making boat races feel more like Formula One

Forget what you think you know about competitive sailing. SailGP is fast, athletic, skilled and explosive--and aiming to go mainstream – writes Michael Verdon.

Grand Prix racing, million-dollar purses, dramatic capsizes, royal crew, tens of thousands of spectators, racers bounding across foiling boats flying at terrifying speeds. Welcome to SailGP.

Based on Formula One or MotoGP, this new series is trying to lose sailing’s reputation as a stodgy, boring, rich man’s sport. Instead, it’s going after a younger everyman audience using the same formula as other extreme sports: fast, explosive, dangerous and, of course, televised.

Last weekend, SailGP wrapped up the fourth of eight events in Aarhus, Denmark, with last year’s champion, Australia, staying on top of the series’ leaderboard after claiming the winner-takes-all final race. The local Danish team won the first race, with Frederik, Crown Prince of Denmark as the team’s sixth sailor, but the rest of the weekend was a shootout between the teams from Great Britain, the U.S., Japan and Australia.

Instead of inconsistently scheduled events with lots of secrecy, boat development and very little racing, as the Cup has, the two settled on a formula with eight national teams, regular races on a global circuit, a one-design foiling race boat to maximize speed and minimize costs, all requiring a level of athleticism that matches other sports.

IMG—the global sports firm with dozens of interests from UFC to bull-fighting—gave it the stamp of approval by joining as a minority investor.

“It’s the best opportunity sailing has ever had,” Ainslie told Robb Report. “They see a commercial future for the league that’s based on not on sailing’s past, but where sports are going.” Six sailors in protective gear resembling special forces units, scramble around boats screaming around a racecourse at 40 to 60 mph, hulls often reaching high out of the water on one foil. Speed, strategy and near collisions, as teams jockey for the lead, give the racing excitement and immediacy.

The racing had its usual assortment of thrills and spills, including Sir Ben Ainslie, CEO and driver of Great Britain’s team, breaking the speed record at 61.1 mph—hyper-speed for a sailboat. The Spanish boat capsized hours before racing started, sustaining enough damage to knock the team from the first day’s competition. And the Brits, at that point leading the series, received a penalty call in the final race that Ainslie called, “shocking,” effectively ending their chances at winning the Grand Prix.