Yacht Racing World Newsletter – Issue 8

Monday October 4

Tip & Shaft – Bruno Dubois: “We need to be able to show another face”

On Monday the French SailGP team announced that they have replaced skipper Billy Besson with 2020 Nacra 17 Olympian Quentin Delapierre. The decision was taken after the Saint-Tropez Grand Prix in which the French finished last.

Team manager Bruno Dubois explains the change to Tip & Shaft.

When and why did you make this decision?

It is a decision which was taken after Saint-Tropez. Billy has always said he wanted to be judged on his results. We finished almost last in 2019 (5th out of 6), in 2020, we only did one event (in Sydney), we finished last, and here at the French event we are last. Even though we had progressed and got two podiums, we still had bad results in Aarhus, in Taranto and then in Saint-Tropez, we cannot accept having a French team like that. Billy is a very good racer, I am not questioning that at all, but when you are not getting the results you want in sport, it's often the captain that you have to change. I know it's tough, but people were warned at the start of the season that on SailGP we can make quick, unilateral decisions, everyone knows that.

We are less used to experiencing that in sailing.....

(He interrupts) I hear people talk about sport-business, but in the Vendée Globe, the Route du Rhum, this is also about sport-business! This is sailing with and for sponsors and when things don't go well, we make changes. We have already seen changes in major teams in France, this is not an Anglo-Saxon way, everyone is aware of the rules of the game.

Why did you make this decision at this time and not at the end of the season?

Because now is the time to invest for the future. This season has not got off to a good start, as we were aiming to finish in the top 3 and now we have to really prepare for next season. If we only brought in Quentin (Delapierre) at the first event of Season, 3, he would have been a stage behind, so we needed to bring him in early. I explained the situation to Russell (Coutts, boss of the SailGP circuit) who told me that if you have to change, you should to do it now, not later.


The Spinoff – Auckland’s America’s Cup dream isn’t dead yet

When the wealthy businessman who’s attempting to fund a cup defence in Auckland – against Team NZ’s wishes – was copied into a controversial email last week, all hell broke loose. Writing for BusinessDesk, Pattrick Smellie lays out the background to the scrap, and what Grant Dalton could do next.

If Mark Dunphy has any sense, he will say nothing for the next few weeks about his attempts to race the 37th America’s Cup in Auckland.

The atom bomb dropped by Team New Zealand on Wednesday evening is a salutary reminder that its chief executive, Grant Dalton, doesn’t just take no prisoners, but revels in a spot of public dismemberment.

Such was the scorn heaped on the Dunphy camp when Dalton released a damaging email to the New York Yacht Club from long-time America’s Cup lawyer and Auckland sailing identity Hamish Ross – on which Dunphy was cc’d – that most media immediately wrote off any chance of a revival.

If ‘Dalts’ says communication on whether Auckland will host the regatta is at an end, then his excellent track record as a ruthless winner would suggest that that’s the end of that. Except for one thing: he doesn’t – yet – have anywhere else to go.


Yachting World – The Ocean Race: What’s it like on a fully crewed IMOCA 60?

Since the announcement The Ocean Race would use IMOCA 60s, designed for solo racing, there has been much talk about how these usually single-handed designs would perform with a full crew on board. Matthew Sheahan finds out.

How much faster could an IMOCA 60 go if it were really pressed? Not in bursts, not for brief peak speeds, but at a sustained average pace over days or more. In other words, how much faster would they go if they could be pushed harder, for longer, than a single-handed sailor could cope with at one stretch? The Ocean Race will answer many of these questions, but with The Ocean Race Europe now finished, teams are starting to get a better idea.

It’s a question that has been discussed for some time, even more so since the 60-footers started to fly five years ago.

Vendée Globe sailors frequently comment that they’re often sailing their boats at well below 100%, because they simply cannot keep up the intensity of going full-bore when they’re sailing alone.

But if you could keep your foot hard to the floor, day in, day out – just as a full crew would be able to – how much faster would one of these globe scorching monohulls go? And would their notoriously fragile structures be able to stand the pace?

As soon as The Ocean Race organisers announced that the IMOCA 60 fleet would be invited to join the VO65s in the fully crewed multi-stage race around the world (formerly the Volvo Ocean Race), speculation ramped up.

How could you fit a full crew into a boat designed for one or occasionally two? Just how many people is ‘fully crewed’ anyway? What would the crew roles be? And what would you do about the autopilot?


The Yacht Racing Podcast – Sam Holliday: The Race Around

Justin Chisholm's guest on the latest episode of The Yacht Racing Podcast is fellow-Brit Sam Holliday, co-founder of the Race Around – a single and double-handed multi-stage around the world race in Class 40 yachts, scheduled to take place in 2023.

Sam is no stranger to the professional yacht racing scene having been involved in Vendee Globe campaigns for British skippers Mike Golding and Mirranda Merron, as well as helping to run successful Class 40 events like The Atlantic Cup and The Pineapple Cup.

Although the Race Around start isn’t until 2023, interest from potential competitors is strong – and, as Sam explains in the interview, he and his small but growing team are working flat out to get everything in place.


Yachts and Yachting – Q&A with Medallia CEO Leslie Stretch

On Wednesday 22 September 2021, Leslie Stretch, CEO of Medallia, helped Pip Hare pour the champagne over the bow of the campaign’s new IMOCA, called Medallia, aiming for the 2024 Vendée Globe.

After the naming ceremony, which took place at Butler’s Wharf in London, just below Tower Bridge, Rob Peake sat down with Leslie for a chat.

Hi Leslie and congratulations on the boat launch. It makes us think of a widely reported comment you made in the last race during a live link to Pip, where you said: “Let’s go shopping for the next boat!” Did you regret that at the time?

Not at all, I was completely determined that we put a real competitor on a competitive boat. It was an asynchronous campaign. We had a fabulous offshore sailor and pilot, just a phenomenal person, an athlete, but we had an old boat. We needed to fix that, so I was very determined to get her a competitive foiling IMOCA for this campaign.

And it’s going to be even better by the time we get to the Vendée Globe because we’re going to make sure we do the right research on safety, on foiling technology and make sure we’ve got the best possible opportunity for her.


Caribbean Sailing Association – Sailing world mourns loss of Luiz Kahl

The sport of Sailing awoke this Sunday morning to the tragic news that Luiz Kahl had passed away.

For those unfamiliar with Luiz, he was the creator and owner of Yacht Scoring, the regatta scoring system used by most Caribbean regattas and a vast number of North American events. Luiz traveled to the Caribbean often. We loved having his smiling face and great personality as part of our race management teams.

Tributes have been pouring in all day, as friends, sailors, and organizers from around World expressed their shock at the loss of such an influential character in our sport.


Vincent Casalaina – West Marine / US Sailing Open Regatta roundup

So why is the West Marine / US Sailing Open Regatta such a big deal? For the younger sailors it's their opportunity to compete at a high level and build a resume of wins that leads to opportunities to sail at events around the world.

This regatta for the IQ Foil class on San Francisco Bay had big winds and currents which was very different from the previous five venues and challenged the sailors, young and old, to be at their very best.

The regatta was hosted by the St. Francis Yacht Club. Each division sailed 13 races over 3 days and in the conditions San Francisco Bay provides it took all their skills to stay upright and go fast.


Stuff – Sir Ben Ainslie ramps up America's Cup challenge with serious makeover

The America’s Cup hosting process may have stalled but Sir Ben Ainslie is going full speed with his British challenge and is set to make major announcements early next week – writes Duncan Johnstone.

Ainslie has moved on quickly from Auckland 2021 where they were the beaten challenger, losing the Prada Cup final to Italy’s Luna Rossa.

Ainslie has been quick to banish memories from that with a name change - his syndicate has dropped the Team UK name and replaced it with INEOS Britannia.

But they will be just as eager to make the most of the lessons learned as they enter their third regatta as a syndicate after Bermuda and Auckland.

Ainslie will name his “core team” next Tuesday (NZT) and there is expected to be an overhaul of both the sailing team and the management.

The announcements will come via a live feed out of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 HQ in Brackley. It’s a show of strength by Ainslie with his INEOS connection giving him powerful sporting allies to draw from and the successful Mercedes outfit are tipped to have increased input.

Australian Grant Simmer is understood to have left as CEO and there have been whispers that Kiwi designer Nick Holroyd has also gone, with the former Team NZ and Team Japan guru rumoured to be heading to help an Alinghi return.

Getting the design right will be crucial for Ainslie. His boats in Bermuda and Auckland were off the pace, and with just one new AC75 allowed in this cycle, there is no room for error.

An exceptional all-round boat is a necessity, as Team New Zealand proved with Te Rehutai in their successful defence.

How the British management structure shapes will be fascinating with Ainslie facing a tough double act in Auckland as skipper and team principal which had him in charge of operations on and off the water.