Yacht Racing World Newsletter – Issue 34
Sailing World – Powering the next AC75s
Will it be grinders or cyclors in the next America's Cup? Good question. And there is no right answer. Justin Chisholm spoke to the experts to find out more.
Team New Zealand’s cyclors on their AC50 for America’s Cup 35 in Bermuda allowed them to control their boat and wing more efficiently. The return of cyclors for AC37 is a real possibility. Carlo Borlenghi
When Emirates Team New Zealand arrived in Bermuda in 2017 for the 35th America’s Cup, they spectacularly wrong-footed their rivals when they unveiled a mini peloton of four “cyclors” pumping away on a row of fixed bikes instead of a traditional grinding team. Using legs rather than arms to power the hydraulic systems aboard the AC50 catamaran turned out to be a game-changing move. With a steady supply of oil pressure, the New Zealand crew could execute any maneuver they chose and twist their wingsail into speed-enhancing configurations that other teams could not match.
Cyclors were prohibited aboard the AC75s introduced by the New Zealanders for their defense at the 36th America’s Cup in Auckland, but they could be back on board for the 37th edition in Barcelona, Spain, in 2024. All five America’s Cup syndicates are tight-lipped about which direction they will be taking for their power-generation systems for AC37, but all of them are looking seriously at using pedal power, particularly given crew numbers have been reduced from 11 to eight, with only four sailors allowed to produce the power required to run the flying boat’s complex systems.
Tim Meldrum is a mechanical engineer with Emirates Team New Zealand and was a key member of the group that developed the Kiwi’s original cyclors’ mechanical system. He agrees the crew number reduction and the benefit of using legs rather than arms means teams will all be seriously assessing this approach.
“What was a six- to eight-person power-delivery group is now a maximum of four, and that’s a significant reduction,” Meldrum says. “Teams will need to review what tasks are managed by each person. There is still the need to steer, trim sails, control flight and navigate, so at a bare minimum, two of the eight will be needed for those tasks. Throw in tacking and jibing, and the question of split roles or transitional handovers also comes into the mix.”
Sailing World – Canucks come a knocking on SailGP podium
How is possible a startup Canadian team gets to the three-boat SailGP finale in its first go? Skipper Phil Robertson knows.
Words by Justin Chisholm
When the all-new Canada SailGP Team took to the water in Bermuda last month for its first regatta in the international sailing league’s third season, it is fair to say that expectations from outside of the fledgling syndicate were not high.
Many will have been surprised then to see the Canadian squad led by Kiwi skipper Phil Robertson come out all guns blazing with a stellar performance that saw them clock up four top five results – including a second and a first in the opening two races – in the nine-boat fleet racing series.
That scorecard was good enough to earn them qualification for the final race, a three-way shootout against the highly fancied Australian and British crews. These Canadian newcomers ultimately finished that race in third place, but only after giving the more experienced teams a run for their money.
So just how did Robertson’s SailGP rookies get themselves on the podium at their very first event when they were racing an F50 in anger for the very first time? According to Robertson – who has in previous seasons trained up newcomer SailGP teams for both China and Spain – the most important factor was populating the new Canadian team with the right people.
A call for applications went out shortly after the Canadian team was announced back in October last year. This prompted an influx of CVs, which were all read by Robertson and followed up with 30-minute online interviews.
“We tested their knowledge base a bit and tried to understand what sort of person they were during the half hour interview time,” Robertson says. “Then we picked the best candidates out of that process. We then looked a lot at past experience – the boats they had sailed and also other skills – and then tried to work out which position on the boat they might be suited for.”
52 Super Series – Quantum Racing crowned Rolex TP52 World Champions in Cascais
Cascais remains one of the most rewarding venues for the Quantum Racing team as Doug DeVos’ US flagged crew today lifted the 2022 Rolex TP52 World Championship title – their third back-to back regatta win on the Atlantic waters off the Portuguese coast.
And while it is the Quantum Racing’s fourth world title achieved during the ten year history of the 52 SUPER SERIES, and their second ‘worlds’ win in Cascais, this 2022 championship is special to tactician Terry Hutchinson and the whole crew as it is the first won with talismanic owner-driver DeVos on the helm.
After four days of precision positioning and taxing tactics on an unusually – for Cascais – open, light winds race arena, finally the NW’ly trade winds came pumping down the race track at 20-22 knots and the surf built to offer the brisk racing conditions which are so sought after by the nine boat fleet.
Quantum Racing started the day with a three points lead over nearest rivals, Harm Müller-Spreer’s Platoon. And while the German team started better in both races and seemed set to take the fight to the Americans, each times the new champions prevailed. On the first upwind they broke Platoon’s cover and went on to win while Platoon were penalized for a rules infringement.
On the second breezy windward-leeward Quantum Racing were ahead after a scrappy first upwind saw both title challengers deep at the first turn. But from that point onwards Quantum Racing just need to cover their rivals to win– as victorious, champagne soaked tactician Hutchinson smiled on the dock in Cascais by, ‘keeping ourselves between the man and the hoop’.
GC32 Racing Tour – Swiss America’s Cup challenger victorious in big breeze Lagos Cup finale
The GC32 Lagos Cup, the pre-Worlds for next month’s GC32 World Championship, concluded in big breeze.
Despite the flying catamaran fleet heading out an hour early, by the end of first race, the sea state was still relatively flat but with the wind averaging 22 knots and gusting to 27 it was ‘survival’ for some of the 10 teams, so PRO Stuart Childerley made the welcome decision to abandon racing.
Otherwise the historic maritime port on Portugal’s Algarve has laid it on, as Lagos has always done since the GC32 Racing Tour first brought its world class sailors here in 2018. Over four days 16 races were held in flat water across the full wind range.
Once again Alinghi Red Bull Racing won, as they did at last month’s GC32 Riva Cup, but on this occasion of their two GC32s it was their development crew on SUI 15 that prevailed, on this occasion with a winning margin of ‘only’ 10 points. For this event the Swiss America’s Cup challenger had swapped helms and the common ingredient of their two victories was helmsman Arnaud Psarofaghis.
“The crew sailed really well this week,” said Psarofaghis. “We missed a few tactical calls and made a few mistakes, which was frustrating, but overall it was fine because we won by a good margin. We came into this week with no pressure – we just want to do things better and we push ourselves.”
In today’s race Team Rockwool Racing won as SUI 15 finished fourth. In trying to recover points the second placed Danes had been pushing harder. “We were playing it safe – we needed to sail the boat well and as fast as we could,” continued Psarofaghis. “In the end the race committee made a good call to end the day because we saw 27 knots. If three or four boats can’t sail safely then there is no point in racing.”
Cup Insider – Answering the call
When Italian sailor Silvio Arrivabene finished the 36th America’s Cup with the New York Yacht Club’s American Magic syndicate in New Zealand last year he was happy to be making a return to his ‘normal’ life back in Europe where he is a well known name on the Grand Prix and superyacht circuit.
But before he could get too settled into his old routine a call from his old boss – Alinghi owner Ernesto Bertarelli – put him straight back on the America’s Cup trail.
Arrivabene had previously worked for the Swiss billionaire during the 33rd America’s Cup – the infamous monster multihull DoG match held in Valencia in 2010 against Larry Ellison’s BMW Oracle Racing.
He joined the Swiss squad immediately after racing with Vincent Onorato’s Italian syndicate Mascalzone Latino at the 32nd America’s Cup where he had been worked first as a navigator before being drafted into a management role as the team’s technical director.
Despite being on the losing side of the Valencia DoG fight Arrivabene greatly enjoyed his time with Alinghi.
It was a campaign which he remembers as a huge adventure – especially moments like when the team flew their newly built gigantic catamaran over the snow capped peaks of Alps dangling precariously underneath a helicopter.
So when the Alinghi founder told him he was putting the band back together for a new Swiss challenge for the 37th America’s Cup, he didn’t hesitate in saying yes.
“In honesty, many of us have been waiting for that phone to ring for the last 10 years since the Deed of Gift Match, just because it was such a great team” he tells me. “So I couldn't answer anything else – and here we are.”
Baby steps on the big beasts J Class racing returns to the Bay of Palma
The J Class return to Superyacht Cup Palma next week (29 June-2 July), where four boats will race as a class at the event for the first time since Mallorca's 2014 showcase regatta. The widely anticipated return of Svea, which is being campaigned by three passionate Swedish 'co-owners', sees the newest J Class yacht in the fleet set to race in Swedish colours for the first time, measuring up against Ranger, Topaz and Velsheda.
Svea, which was built to a 1937 design of Tore Holm and launched in 2017, will start in Palma with a team which is mainly new to J Class racing, but that has eight times round the world racer Bouwe Bekking as skipper. Bekking is one of the most experienced J Class sailors who not only skippered Lionheart to win the J Class World Championship when it was last raced in Newport USA in 2017, but under his guidance Lionheart were winners at the Superyacht Cup Palma 2014 when five boats last raced against each other on the Bay of Palma.
"Right now, it is baby steps," warns Bekking whilst leading training for the new Svea crew in Palma this week. "There are plenty of good sailors on board but we really are starting from scratch. At this first regatta we are just aiming to get around the course in good shape with no major issues. But it is so nice to see the Swedish heritage of Svea really coming to the fore. Tore Holm is very famous in Sweden, and it is going to be a pleasure to race with these Swedish owners and sailors."
Bekking asserts, "Palma is of course a great race course for a first regatta together on Svea. It should not be too breezy. Everyone is super enthusiastic, but it is all new to a lot of the team who are very used to small, quick boats. There is nothing quick and easy about gybing a J Class yacht, so we have spent the last week training, looking at the mechanics of the manoeuvres and practicing. It is such a privilege to sail these boats and there is a certain beauty to watch 30 or so people working together. Our three owners are all good sailors, but this is a different beast."
While expectations may be low, Bekking took the Dutch flagged Lionheart programme from initial baby steps to win all the main J Class titles.
The Superyacht Cup Palma is the first major European regatta of the 2022 season for the class, and comes after March's Saint Barth's Bucket where Ranger, with a new owner and crew, triumphed on their debut together racing in breezy, bumpy Caribbean trade wind conditions.