An America’s Cup that has already been marked by unprecedented change and tragedy appears destined to remain very much in a state of flux until well into the Louis Vuitton challenger elimination series, scheduled to begin July 7.
Count me among the converted.
From the moment Larry Ellison, Russell Coutts, Jimmy Spithill et al. won the 33rd America’s Cup Regatta in Valencia, Spain, a little over three years ago, I’ve been concerned about the Cup’s future.
In the wake of the death of America’s Cup Team Artemis sailor Andrew Simpson, regatta director Iain Murray has issued a list of 37 recommendations to be incorporated into the safety plan for the Summer of Racing.
It wasn’t supposed to happen this way. First the Kiwis and then the three other America’s Cup teams have all hit the water with daggerboards we might as well call hydrofoils, which lift their boats’ hulls clean out of the water on downwind legs, dramatically lowering resistance and increasing speed. But the AC72 rule was specifically intended to prevent that. Read my lips: No trimmable winglets.
According to Emirates Team New Zealand boss Grant Dalton, April is the month for ETNZ and training partner Luna Rossa to pack up “cats, chase boats, base structures, workshops, offices, gym, kitchens and stores for the move to San Francisco.”
Never before has the red-hot favored team to win the next America’s Cup been in such a dicey predicament. Some claim that Emirates Team New Zealand has already won the Cup in the design department, but even if that proves true, it makes the team no less vulnerable to the fortunes of war.
There was a time when getting your hands on the wheel of a U.S. America’s Cup boat was almost the same as saying, yes, I’ve won a Star Class world championship. Think Bill “Ficker Is Quicker” Ficker, Dennis Conner, Tom Blackaller, Buddy Melges.