Yacht Racing World Newsletter – Issue 10

Monday October 18

Stuff – Peter Burling and Blair Tuke in risky America's Cup strategy

ANALYSIS: Peter Burling and Blair Tuke are charting a tricky course towards the next America’s Cup – writes Duncan Johnstone.

While they have been on retainers since the last victory in Auckland, New Zealand’s international sailing stars have confirmed they're yet to sign on full time to Team New Zealand’s defence of the Auld Mug. Their statement that they’d “like clarity on the fundamentals of the event before we commit” had an ambiguous feel to it.

They seem to be holding doors open, but doors have a habit of being slammed shut in this game.

Team New Zealand will certainly want skipper Burling and his lieutenant Tuke to stay, but it will likely be on the team’s terms. The negotiating table will be fascinating.

There’s a crucial Cup phase approaching with the release of the protocol on November 17 that will shape crews and campaigns.

Team New Zealand’s biggest vulnerability has been losing talent, and the emphasis that has gone into the nationality clause of the protocol will look to address that.

Billionaires with far deeper pockets than Team New Zealand may be circling Burling and Tuke as double America’s Cup champions and triple Olympic medalists. Those same big-wigs will have their legal eagles circle every detail of that nationality clause in the protocol to see if they can get away with importing star power.


Live Sail Die – Same America’s Cup Story, Different Cycle

Like many sailors, I have observed the decades-long machinations of the America’s Cup from afar, bemused by the strutting and cash-soaked preening and fencing between the combatants that begins months and years before the racing begins – writes Tim Kent.

When the events finally roll around, they often provide riveting sailing between supremely talented sailors on beautifully sculpted and engineered yachts. Occasionally a farce is played out between the uber-rich, but there is most often some engaging racing at the end of it all.

For those expecting each Cup cycle to provide pre-race drama, this one is delivering. Skullduggery in Auckland, a strong team deposed in New York, venue intrigue spread across the globe…it is Cup marketing at its best. Which brings us to the curtain-raising of the newly-named Ineos Britannia team. The uber-wealthy Sir Jim Ratcliffe along with the very wealthy and extremely successful Toto Wolff of the AMG-Mercedes Petronas Formula One team have joined forces for the next Cup.

It’s certainly a dream team on paper – Sir Ben Ainslie backed by Gilles Scott on the water, the money and drive of Ratcliffe and the proven championship-caliber engineering of Wolff’s Formula One team certainly make for an impressive collective. There was no shortage of hubris in the announcement either, with the suggestion that had Wolff’s team been involved earlier in the past Cup, things would have turned out differently.


Yacht Racing Life – Windy second day at SailGP Cadiz delivers the goods for us spectators

Blood and sand, what a huge day out on the water Sunday turned out to be for the SailGP crews racing at the international circuit’s sixth event of the year taking place in Cadiz, Spain this weekend.

Conditions were always forecast to be tricky, with the plus 20-knot easterly wind filtered by Cadiz’s maze of city streets and buildings before arriving on the racecourse in a series of gunshot gusts and unpredictable shifts.

Despite the big breeze the race organisers nevertheless called for the teams to use larger of the two wing sail options – 24 metres, rather than 18 metres.

The teams were allowed out out to the racecourse an hour before race time to give them time to get acclimatised and the conditions. Unfortunately for the hometown crowds the Spanish crew were the first to fall foul of the conditions when a high-speed nosedive was and inevitable capsize destroyed the top third of their wing.

After almost capsizing themselves on the way out of the harbour Tom Slingsby’s Australian team took some time to run through their capsize drill and check their personal spare air bottles.

“It’s survival out here,” Slingsby reported. “It’s not so much the amount of wind, it’s just the position of the racecourse makes it really puffy. The water is pretty flat, that’s manageable, but the bullets we get out here are pretty extreme. You go from light winds to a lot of wind very quickly and it’s very hard to predict.”


Sail World – America's Cup: Valencia back as a potential venue, but with a study

A report in the Spanish media indicates that a new bid from Valencia, Spain, is under development for hosting the 37th America's Cup.

The original group promoting the 2007/10 Cup venue to be used again in 2024 withdrew abruptly, a week before the AC37 venue announcement was due on September 17, saying the Spanish Government would not financially support their bid.

According to reports in the Spanish media on Thursday, the Vice Mayor of Valencia, Sandra Gómez, spokesperson for PSPV-PSOE the socialist party of the Valencia region, has "advocated for a public-private collaboration" to host the 37th America's Cup.

Speaking at a breakfast to announce her return to "municipal activity after her maternity leave", Gómez said that "informal contacts" had been made, and that they were waiting on a proposal from Real Club Nautico de Valencia to "present a serious and rigorous study". Whether that is a reference to a formal proposal, or if that is also part of a "return on investment" study - at which point the parties would make a decision and sign-off or decline.

The Minister for Sports, Pilar Bernabé, also a member of the socialist party, indicated the Government was prepared to throw in the existing infrastructure already developed for the 2007 America's Cup. But that was provided private and commercial interests could work together to pay the hosting cost. She said that it was expected that the Council costs would be in the hundreds of thousands of Euros, not millions.

Given that the Valencian infrastructure is already in place and cost absorbed, if the commercial parties can see their way to making their investment giving them a positive return (rather than for the region as a whole), then the bid may be viable.

The AC37 venue bid process opened in late 2020 and closed before the staging of the 36th Match for the America's Cup in early March 2021. Since then, the 35 expressions were reduced to just three to five - being Valencia, Jeddah and Cork. Barcelona was a surprise late entry, and Auckland remains in play, despite the NZ Government being unable to successfully negotiate an agreement during their three-month exclusive period, which ran out on June 17, 2021.


New Zealand Herald – America's Cup: Spain, Ireland and Saudi Arabia firm up as possible hosts

Valencia has withdrawn from the race to host the 37th America's Cup – but Spain is still very much in it – writes Paul Lewis.

International yachting sources have confirmed that a second Spanish bid is being made, dampening some of the rumours doing the rounds in sailing circles that the Saudis are at the front of the queue with a big-money bid to hold the regatta in Jeddah.

Team New Zealand's announcement of the new one-design AC40 yacht that will help expand pathways into the main event, particularly for women, also contained a largely overlooked line. It said the 37th America's Cup will be a multi-challenger event – effectively closing the door on the proposed one-on-one challenge at Cowes between Team NZ and Ineos Team UK.

So Spain (probably Barcelona), Cork in Ireland and Jeddah remain potential venues, one of whom is likely to be named on Friday.


Tip & Shaft – Jérémie Beyou: “We have a bit of a spirit of revenge”

Thirteenth on the last Vendée Globe, Jérémie Beyou is now well into his new programme with Charal building a new Sam Manuard designed boat which is expected in the water next June. In the meantime, he is making ready to start the Transat Jacques Vabre with Christopher Pratt.

Tip & Shaft spoke with the 45-year-old Beyou.

Did you actively take time to get over your Vendée Globe 2020?

The disappointment of not playing at the front of the race, I had digested little by little during the race. It is an event so all-consuming both mentally and physically, that you don't really get over something like this overnight, it took me a few months before I felt ready wanted to get into it all again on a physical level and to feel that I had recovered in terms of fatigue.

And the desire to race, the competitive urge came back hard during the summer: at the start of the Fastnet (2nd place), I really wanted to get back to racing.

Even before the start of the Vendée Globe, you knew you were going to start a new campaign, did you have any doubts you would go on after what happened?

No in fact it is the opposite. Maybe if I had won, I might have wondered, then not having been competitive at the front left me very frustrated. I was very far from being satisfied. And of course when I go back I was straight into the design of the new boat, so I was very quickly into my next Vendée Globe.

Did you change much as you were setting up this new campaign?

No, the methodology is the same, we try to prepare everything well in advance, that's why we launched the project early. We left with the same overall itinerary with some differences, there will be no Figaro for me on this campaign, no Ocean Race either. The programme is focused almost 100% towards the Imoca.

And thanks to Charal we had the chance to be able to strengthen the team. By being the first to launch the campaign, we were also able to be able to evaluate different designers, we had the best choice and focused on Sam Manuard.

And we really don't regret it, because he has an incredible talent, he's someone who is full of ideas but really seems to know the constraints of sailing solo. He has only done one Imoca (L’Occitane now Bureau Vallée) and from the first it has been a success.