Yacht Racing World Newsletter – Issue 24
Monday March 14
Some exciting news: You can now read Yacht Racing World in the new Substack app for iPhone.
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The Substack app is currently available for iOS. If you don’t have an Apple device, you can join the Android waitlist here.
Catalan News – Barcelona will bid to host 2024 America's Cup sailing race
Barcelona will bid to host the 2024 America's Cup sailing race, the oldest sport trophy in international sport, established in 1851.
The Catalan capital wants to be the venue of the pinnacle of yachting, as was first published by 'La Vanguardia' newspaper on Friday and confirmed by the Catalan News Agency (ACN).
Barcelona has already informed officially to the organization that it is ready to host the event, and the initiative is the result of joint efforts by various Catalan public administrations and the private sector.
The city council, the Catalan government, and the Barcelona region authority (Diputació de Barcelona) are working together with Barcelona Global, a private and non-profit association that is trying to get the engagement of businesses.
The city will not have to wait much time in order to know whether it will be picked, since America's Cup will announce its venue for 2024 by March 31, 2022, that is, at the end of this month.
According to media specializing in sailing, other cities bidding to host the event include Málaga, in southern Spain; Cork, in Ireland; and Jeddah, in Saudi Arabia.
Inside the Games – Marseille grandstand for Paris 2024 Olympic sailing cancelled over security concerns
Local authorities in Marseille have abandoned the idea of building of a 5,000-seat grandstand for the Paris 2024 Olympic sailing events, citing security concerns.
The construction of the stand on the Corniche was part of the plans laid out by the Paris 2024 Organising Committee, but those at City Hall have rejected the idea, the local newspaper, La Provence, reported.
Samia Ghali, Deputy Mayor in charge of major infrastructure, expressed her "doubts" over the security question.
She added that the risk of an attack would be too great, given that the proposed stand would cover traffic lanes and that vehicles would pass underneath it.
The report added that the new municipality found the project complex and expensive.
An agreement on the financing for development of the 2024 Olympic sailing venue in Marseille is due to be signed later this month Nicolas Ferrand, managing director of Solideo, the public body charged with overseeing insfrastructural Games projects, announced last month.
Ineos Britannia – Welsh sailor and engineer Bleddyn Mon re-signs with INEOS Britannia for 37th America’s Cup
Welsh native, Bleddyn Mon, who was INEOS Britannia’s wing trimmer during the 36th America’s Cup in Auckland in 2021, has resigned with the British Challenger for the 37th America’s Cup campaign, for his third consecutive America’s Cup with the team.
“As Challenger of Record, I was keen to get back involved. There was obviously unfinished business. As I go into my third campaign, I want to set all of those wrongs right.”
Bleddyn will not only once again join the team as part of the sailing team, but as a member of the technical team also. This is a unique position to be in, but not new to Mon. Since first joining the team in 2015, Bleddyn has split his time between these two roles.
Bleddyn’s expertise in both sailing and engineering brings a unique, and valued opinion to the technical team. “On the technical side, I am involved on the performance and simulator engineering to develop and improve the physical simulator tools. I bring experience to the team as having sailed the boat on the water, I can bring that into the simulator sessions.”
Bleddyn grew up sailing on the north coast of Wales, learning to sail in a Mirror dinghy at the age of 10. He quickly progressed through the single-handed Topper and into the 29er, where he won two national championships by age 18, with eyes on going to the Olympics.
Through university, Bleddyn started sailing a 49er on the Solent. It was also during this time that the 34th America’s Cup was taking place in San Francisco. Immediately catching his attention, Bleddyn knew it was something that he wanted to get into. A year after graduating from university, Bleddyn started training full time with the 35th America’s Cup British Challenger.
Having an engineering background, INEOS Britannia’s integration with the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team is a particularly exciting opportunity for Bleddyn.
“They are a very successful team in the F1 world, it is going to be very exciting to work alongside them and see what we can learn from their craftsmanship and experiences that they have. I am looking forward to working alongside them.”
Whilst he is a highly valued member of the design and engineering team, Bleddyn remains at heart a sailor and it is the prospect of getting back out on the water, with the team aiming to be back sailing by the end of 2022, that he is most looking forward to:
“The biggest excitement is to get back out sailing on these amazing boats with my teammates. There is a strong bond with your teammates after having worked together for eight years, three campaigns. With these AC75 boats now being in their second generation, we all expect the racing to be much closer this time round which should be great fun to be part of, and will make for a thrilling spectacle for the fans.
Stuff – Dean Barker: America's Cup winner but so often the nearly man
Officially Dean Barker is an America’s Cup winner, but the likeable Kiwi will likely be better remembered as the nearly man – writes Duncan Johnstone.
Barker’s long Cup career appears to be at a crossroads as his name was absent from American Magic’s core crew list released on Wednesday.
The New York Yacht Club’s syndicate was his lifeline, with continuity there his best option to stay in the game under the tough new nationality rules. The reality is the New Zealand door shut on Barker in the wake of the 2013 heartache in San Francisco.
American Magic's 'Patriot' was lifted back on to shore after a capsize earlier in the day left the boat sinking low into the water during the last race of the day for the Prada Cup.
Barker’s Cup success came in the 2000 home defence when Sir Russell Coutts handed him the wheel at 4-0 and asked him to deliver the knockout blow to Italy’s Luna Rossa.
Barker duly delivered on Coutts’ confidence and that effort put him in charge of the Team New Zealand boat for the following 13 years.
It was a rocky ride, with Barker initially overseeing the embarrassing 5-0 loss to Alinghi in the 2003 defence when the Kiwi boat literally fell apart and the whole campaign buckled under the pressure of trying to overcome the might of his mentor who had jumped ship to Swiss colours with the bulk of the sailing talent.
With Team New Zealand’s very existence threatened, Barker got the nod from his new master, Grant Dalton, who stepped in to provide the fundraising skills and managerial expertise to keep the Kiwi syndicate afloat.
They put up a bold effort at Valencia 2007, emerging victorious from an 11-boat challengers fleet.
But, again, heartache awaited Barker in the Cup final, as they tangled with Alinghi again.
The Match was highly competitive with Barker staying in the game at 2-2 against the Swiss defenders who were this time skippered by Brad Butterworth. But Alinghi’s superior boat speed eventually told as they took the next three races, the Cup-winning race eventually being decided by just one second as Barker bravely battled to keep the contest alive.
Barker stayed on the wheel as Team New Zealand sat out a Cup hiatus imposed by the 2010 deed of gift challenge between Alinghi and Oracle, but he showed his skills and adaptiveness as the Kiwi syndicate returned for the 2013 campaign that was sailed in giant catamarans that were tweaked to foil at the 11th hour.
New Zealand Herald – Terry Hutchinson on Team NZ's big venue decision, new crew and Dean Barker
It's been a big week for American Magic. They announced their core sailing crew for their next America's Cup campaign and are now eagerly awaiting the announcement of the venue for AC37 – writes Matt Brown.
Team New Zealand have given a self-imposed deadline of March 31, with three overseas ports — Cork, Malaga and Jeddah — on the shortlist. It's understood Team NZ boss Grant Dalton has been in Malaga this week.
American Magic skipper and CEO Terry Hutchinson is optimistic the deadline for selecting the host venue will be met.
"Dalts [Dalton] seems reasonably committed to it so I have no reason not to take them at face value. We have a good relationship and he's always been forthright and honest with me, even when I don't sometimes like what he has to say and the same the other way," Hutchinson said.
"If something changes and he doesn't feel like he's going to meet it, I'm sure he'll let us know."
But having announced his core sailing team, Hutchinson admits the clock is ticking if the America's Cup regatta is to be held in 2024, so the venue needs to be finalised sooner rather than later.
1News – America’s Cup yacht skippered by Sir Russell Coutts to get heave-ho
A former America’s Cup yacht skippered by Sir Russell Coutts has outstayed its welcome in Queenstown, New Zealand.
NZL14 sailed as part of the New Zealand challenge at the 1992 edition of the race in San Diego and continued racing in San Francisco before returning to New Zealand sailing tourists around Lake Whakatipu for several years.
Now the 23m yacht, which has a 35m mast and a lead keel weight of 16.5 tonnes, has been deemed surplus to requirements.
Moored at Queenstown Bay in Lake Whakatipu, it has been classed as abandoned by the Queenstown Lakes District Council under the Maritime Transport Act and the council are calling for expressions of interest for its removal.
"We’re reaching out to those who have the appropriate equipment and resources to remove and dispose of the vessel," Queenstown Lakes District Council regulatory manager Anthony Hall said.
"There is some funding available to help with the yacht’s removal and it would be up to the person or group successful through the Expressions of Interest process to decide what to do with her once she’s off the lake," he added.
Yacht Racing World – Phil Robertson on racing the SailGP F50 foiling catamarans
New Zealand sailor Phil Robertson has earned a reputation as one of the top high-performance sailors in the world. He made his name on the World Match Racing Tour – where he won the world title on two occasions – and is now a well-established skipper on the international SailGP high-performance regatta circuit.
During an interview on a recent episode of The Yacht Racing Podcast Robertson chatted with host Justin Chisholm about the way his career has evolved and gave some unique insight into what it is like to be at the wheel of an F50 foiling catamaran in the heat of battle.
One of Phil Robertson’s earliest sailing memories is as a child falling asleep in the warm sunshine at the front of the Robertson family dinghy as his dad sailed it around the course in the local Sunday club race – writes Justin Chisholm.
Fast forward twenty years or so and these days Robertson needs to be very much awake and fully alert at the wheel of his F50 high-performance foiling catamaran racing on the international SailGP circuit.
An early convert to the foiling revolution, Robertson is now one of the few sailors in the world to have developed the skills and experience to take the wheel of an F50, which can top 50 knots in the right conditions.
Robertson was in Europe with a group of Kiwi mates racing on the World Match Racing Tour when the America’s Cup switched from monohull to fast catamarans for the 34th edition in San Francisco. Spotting this as a paradigm shift in the sport he quickly also made the change from one hull to two.
“Sailing evolves all the time and I always try to stay relevant,” he said. “I had never sailed a cat before, but to be honest, it probably suits my style a lot more than a slow keel boat.”
His first foiling experience was on an SL33 back in New Zealand (“Someone had got the designs and built one at home – that's how kiwis do it”) but Robertson says it was the time he spent on the now defunct Superfoiler circuit in Australia that taught him many the core skills for high-performance foiling.
“That was a boat where the skipper had to trapeze and control the foils on the tiller – and do it somewhat safely on a platform that no one had sailed before. There was so much learning to do and the boat scared you. It was fast and it was wild – and there were some pretty big capsizes – scary ones too – but they were wicked boats and a lot of fun. That experience has been key to my development towards getting on to a boat like the F50.”
Before SailGP was born Robertson skippered the Oman Air GC32 foiling cat in the Extreme Sailing Series for two successful seasons.
“That is a very relevant experience too,” he said. “Everyone’s doing different jobs which control the flight and the speed of the boat. So you've got to trust your guys and learn how to communicate well.”
Royal Gazette – Canada SailGP team owner Fred Pye looking forward to Bermuda ‘homecoming’
Fred Pye, the Team Canada owner, is counting the days before the expansion franchise makes its debut in the SailGP global sailing league in Bermuda’s Great Sound in May.
The lifelong sailor and tech entrepreneur can hardly wait to see his vision of a Canadian team competing against other nations in a sailing regatta come to fruition and he believes they will have the firm backing of the local sailing community to spur them around the racecourse.
“We think we are going to have huge local support,” Pye told The Royal Gazette.
“We expect that there’s going to be a lot of Canadian flags around the racecourse and on Front Street come SailGP.
“This is the Bermuda event but Canada and Bermuda are very close in business, and in many different things, so we want to adopt this Bermuda race as our homecoming.
“We’ll call it the Canadian coming out party when we come to Bermuda in May.”
The Bermuda Sail Grand Prix presented by Hamilton Princess will return to the Great Sound on May 14 and 15.
Great Britain SailGP, led by multiple Bermuda Gold Cup winner Sir Ben Ainslie, are the defending champions.
Businessman Pye purchased Team Canada last year, and since then has been busy assembling the team from the ground up ahead of SailGP’s Season 3 opener.
“It’s been certainly a whirlwind introduction because we purchased the team in the Fall and the first thing we had to figure out is do we have enough time to build a boat for Season 3,” he added.
“The boat went into production right away and looks like we’ll be borrowing another boat for race 1 and 2 for Season 3.
“We hope to have the new, freshly designed and fresh boat built and delivered to the UK for race 3, so that’s been very exciting.”
Jean-Sébastien Chénier Proteau has been appointed as the team’s chief executive, while multiple world champion and Bermuda Gold Cup campaigner Phil Robertson will steer their wing-sailed foiling F50 catamaran.
“I can’t be more excited about the Canadian team that we are building,” Pye said. “I met Phil Robertson at the first race I went to in the UK and I connected with him almost immediately. I love his youthfulness, his spirit, his competitiveness.
The Ocean Race – The French Connection Series Part 1: The pioneers of the crewed round the world race
This is the first in a series of features celebrating the strong French heritage of The Ocean Race. Produced in cooperation with IMOCA Class, these stories highlight 50 years of the 'French Connection' dating back to the inception of the Whitbread Round the World Race in 1973.
In a year’s time, they’ll be riding the Indian Ocean swell in The Ocean Race (*) where the IMOCA Class is making its race debut, alongside the familiar VO65 one-designs. Spanning 12,750 miles, or 23,613 km, never before has one leg – between Cape Town in South Africa and Itajaí in Brazil – been so long. Fifty years ago, sailors from all different backgrounds were competing in the very first crewed sprint around the planet known as the Whitbread Round the World Race. Half a century on, IMOCA and The Ocean Race are rekindling their ties with this crazy epic in a bid to continue its legacy.
On 8 September 1973, nineteen sailboats from seven nations, a third of which were French, set sail from Portsmouth and the green waters of the Solent bound for South Africa. Not only was the atmosphere imbued with the inherent stress of any race start, but also a hefty dose of the unknown as the sailors had to negotiate a 27,000-mile sea passage, punctuated by the Roaring Forties and the Furious Fifties in the Indian and then the Pacific Ocean.
The story goes that a few years earlier, the former aviator Sir Francis Chichester, winner at sixty years of age of the first OSTAR, some four years before Eric Tabarly’s triumph, came up with the idea of a crewed round-the-world race with some of the UK’s leading lights, including Robin Knox-Johnston, winner of the Golden Globe in 1969, and Admiral Otto Steiner. It was known as the Whitbread Round the World Race as it was sponsored by the famous British brewer.
This first marathon around the planet comprised four long legs from Portsmouth and back via Cape Town, Sydney and Rio. A certain black boat did not go unnoticed dockside. Pen Duick VI, a 22-metre ketch, was specially designed for the race by André Mauric and was equipped with a depleted uranium keel and titanium components.
The yacht was skippered by Eric Tabarly, who was accompanied by a young and talented crew whose names would soon be familiar to many – Olivier de Kersauson, Philippe Poupon and Marc Pajot… The majority of the yachts were slow and heavy, loaded to the gunwales with tins of food and jerrycans of water.
Back in 1973, freeze-dried food and watermakers were not available on boats, but they did boast soft berths, back-up heating to try to dry vinyl oilskins from the fishing industry and even slippers. Given the unreliability of the SSB communications, it was considered good form to have both a doctor on board – the future explorer Jean-Louis Etienne on Pen Duick for example – and a cook, who floated between watches and worked at the home-style galley stove.
Racer-cruiser yachts as strong as they are comfortable
The British press promises an epic head-to-head battle between Eric Tabarly and Chay Blyth on Great Britain II. Tabarly had become headline news when he took victory in the 1964 OSTAR, whilst former Paratrooper Blyth had won renown after setting a single-handed round-the-world record against the prevailing winds in a time of 292 days in 1971. The two sailors were clearly in it to win it. Recruited by Blyth, his crew were sturdy chaps but hardly sailors, and they complained of having to survive solely on stodgy curry-based meals. It was borderline mutiny. Upon making landfall in South Africa, Blyth admitted that “even parachutists are human beings…”, which provides some insight into the atmosphere that had developed on board.
It was a very different scenario aboard Sayula II, a Swan 65, designed by the prestigious American firm Sparkman & Stephens, built in Finland and considered back then to be the Rolls Royce of racer-cruisers. Mexican billionaire Ramon Carlin had it all figured out. He enlisted his son, an amateur yachtsman, but also some brilliant sailors. Whilst the youngsters got on with the sailing on deck, the skipper and his guests made the most of it. “We have alcohol aboard and we sometimes have a drink together after dinner or at the end of the watch when we’re soaked and chilled to the bone”, explained the bon viveur. “Some pay no heed whatsoever to the fact that we have some women aboard (notably Paquita his wife). Their presence in an excellent thing…” All the same, the legend doesn’t really explain how many women there actually were on board and, ultimately, the preferred option was that all of them would step off the boat in Cape Town and join their spouses at the stopovers instead.