Cup Watch - February 2007

The Pressure Rises: Development time runs outLife is changing for the play-ers in the 2007 America’s Cup. The leading teams look to February as the month to wrap up final training in Dubai (Switzerland’s defender, Alinghi, and Sweden’s Victory Challenge) or Auckland (Emirates Team New Zealand and America’s BMW Oracle). Then the sailors get one final break before
Author:
Updated:
Original:

The Pressure Rises: Development time runs out

Life is changing for the play-ers in the 2007 America’s Cup. The leading teams look to February as the month to wrap up final training in Dubai (Switzerland’s defender, Alinghi, and Sweden’s Victory Challenge) or Auckland (Emirates Team New Zealand and America’s BMW Oracle). Then the sailors get one final break before racing begins in earnest in April in Valencia, Spain.

At the opposite end of the spectrum is China Team, whose one new boat, CHN 95, was completed last fall at McConaghy’s yard in Dong Guan and shipped to Valencia with a plan to launch in February. Call it an oversized challenge for the mixed French and Chinese crew to be competitive in April, but, like Germany’s, this is a look-to-the-future effort.

Of the sailing at BMW Oracle, the multifaceted Craig Monk said, “This winter is our last opportunity for serious strength training. When we get back to Valencia, physio is all maintenance.” He should know. Monk is a grinder, but not just any grinder; he won a bronze medal skippering a Finn dinghy in the 1992 Olympics, and he is the shoreside sailing-team manager.

The team took an older boat and one of its two new hulls to Auckland (Larry Ellison has said, “We chose to build two very different boats”), but Monk claimed that the team was largely done with testing. “We’ve been at it three years,” Monk said. “We think we’ve exhausted every detail, and going into the Cup year the big gains are to be found in refining our techniques for sailing well. The long slog of testing is behind us. For the sailors this is the best time.”

Emirates Team New Zealand is using the Down Under summer to work up its new NZL 92 against NZL 84, which topped the standings at the end of the last Acts in Valencia—not that managing director Grant Dalton will let his people forget for a minute that the Alinghi they beat, by a smidgen, was a modified 2003 hull. Training starts on most days at 0630 with a gym session of 60 to 75 minutes. Then comes a long day on the water. “Now that we have two new boats to develop, we’re even more focused,” sailing manager Kevin Shoebridge said. “The program is varied. Too much straight testing can be a bit mind-numbing. The guys look forward to race days, which we treat like the real thing, so long as they don’t break the boats.”

Alinghi has been ambitiously operating in Dubai with two boats and 60 people, a boat shed, a sail loft in a tent, and 10 container-workshops.

Going to Dubai was a last-minute decision, allowing Alinghi to work up its newest boat in a sea breeze. According to mid-bowman Curtis Blewett, the team has been on “a six-and-a-half-day work week; we have a new boat, so this is the most intensive segment so far.” As for Dubai, a unique enclave on the Persian Gulf, “Cabs are cheap and the nightlife is good; there are lots of expats, and it’s the place if you’re into dune buggies.”

The Swedish team, Victory Challenge, has also been in Dubai with two boats, but with a focus, skipper Magnus Holmberg said, “on racing and crew work.” They will soon join the migration back to Valencia, to be up and sailing there in March.

Teams that did not establish a full-time training base away from Valencia (generally a financial decision) are wondering how much they have lost. In Valencia there’s been sparring and testing among, for example, Team Shosholoza of South Africa, Areva (France 93 was launched in November), Mascalzone Latino Capitalia of Italy, and United Internet Team Germany, which relaunched its new boat in January after reengineering/strengthening the ballast fin. There was also a lot of waiting for the breeze, which history says doesn’t return in reliable fashion until March.

The cipher in this mix, now, is Luna Rossa, one of three Italian challengers—and as heir to 2000 challenger Prada, accorded decent prospects—which spent an underfunded winter in Valencia looking as if the afterguard is struggling to coalesce across international lines. Kimball Livingston

Related

Shelly-forward-last-day

Charter Advice for First-Timers

Never chartered? No worries. A vacation under sail can be the most memorable time of your life. That said, it also pays to be prepared by doing some reading, building your skills and listening to what the experts say. First and foremost, not all charter grounds are created ...read more

HugoBoss

Video: Vendeé Update

Last week Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) led the fleet across the equator. As one of the class' top sailors who's been on the Vendeé Podium twice, it seemed possible that Thomson was going to grab an early lead and hold on to it all the way around the world. But early on Saturday, he ...read more

AdobeStock_229409051

Chartering Again for the First Time

It’s been a rocky road of late for the charter industry, especially here in the Western Hemisphere. First came hurricanes Irma and Maria in the Caribbean followed by Dorian in the Bahamas. There has also, of course, been the coronavirus, which burst into global prominence ...read more

01 LEAD cedaryachtclub_onedesign18_hike

An Interview with Ayme Sinclair

In recent months, US Sailing, like many organizations, has been taking a closer look at diversity to ensure it’s doing the best job it can of introducing people from all backgrounds and ethnicities to the sport. As part of this effort, this past summer it organized an online ...read more

125768940_10222759720523627_5373654001582879638_n

US Sailing Presents Adaptive Sailing Panel

On Tuesday, November 24, US Sailing’s Leadership Forum will present the latest panel discussion in their Diversity, Equity and Inclusion series. This event will focus on adaptive sailing and provide practical recommendations for organizations looking to expand their adaptive ...read more

02-IMG_5971

A Carbon Neutral Circumnav with Jimmy Cornell

Historic anniversaries have always held a special fascination for me, especially if they mark a significant nautical achievement. In 1992, on the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ would-be voyage to India, I organized a transatlantic rally that followed the historic route of the ...read more

DJI_0068

SAIL Podcast: Jimmy Cornell’s Carbon-free Circumnav

In this episode of Point of SAIL, Principal Editor Adam Cort talks with bestselling author and pioneering bluewater sailor Jimmy Cornell, who set out November 19 on yet another circumnavigation aboard a newly designed, carbon-neutral Outremer 4Zero catamaran. The voyage, which ...read more

emirates-600x

Emirates Team New Zealand Splashes the last of the AC75s

Emirates Team New Zealand unveiled its second-generation AC75 yesterday, joining the other three America's Cup teams with boats in the water. In just over 100 days, this boat will attempt to defend the Cup for the Kiwis, but there's plenty of racing between now and then, with ...read more