Cup Watch: No Safety in Numbers

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.
Author:
Publish date:
Updated on
Cup-Watch-luna-rossa

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 (and frankly, it’s a stretch), it makes the team no less vulnerable to the fortunes of war.

A capsize doesn’t necessarily destroy the wing on an AC72—Oracle’s wing could have been saved if the tide hadn’t swept its boat out to rough ocean waters after the capsize last October—but there is no such thing as an AC72 capsize that isn’t serious, and there is no such thing as an AC72 that can’t capsize. If New Zealand is the favorite, it is simply because the Kiwis have sailed a lot without messing up, at least not so’s you could notice. And they set the standard on foiling.

As the only team that actually used all of the 30 rule-permitted sailing days between July 2012 and February 2013, ETNZ is much more experienced in the new weaponry than any other team. This includes its training partner, Luna Rossa, though the Italians have shared the benefits of actually sailing alongside another AC72, something neither the defender, Oracle Team USA, nor the challenger of record, Artemis Racing, have had a chance to do yet.

Under protest by Artemis and Oracle for the terms of their partnership, the Kiwis and Italians persuaded the regatta jury that, as long as there was no exchange of data, they were in compliance with item 33.2 of the Protocol for America’s Cup 34. But when they’re not talking to the jury, they have no problem lauding the benefits of two-boat testing. 

As Luna Rossa skipper Max Serena puts it: “We started a year after the others, but we’ve already passed Artemis Racing and Oracle Team USA. I feel pretty strong with our position, but what happened to Artemis and Oracle could happen to us tomorrow. Look at Oracle. They had a two-boat campaign. Now they’re down to a one-boat campaign. Yes, they probably fixed their first boat, but they’re not going to do the Cup in that boat. The doubt is that if we capsize, we’re probably out of the game.

“These boats are fun and exciting to sail up to about 18-20 knots of breeze,” Serena adds. “Over 20 knots, you’re changing completely the mode of sailing because they are really, really powerful. Over 20 knots, you’re not laughing.”

Photo courtesy of AC34/Chris Cameron

Related

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com No chafe, safe stay  If you’re leaving the boat unattended for a longish period, there’s a lot to be said for cow-hitching the shorelines, as this sailor did. They’ll never let go, and so long as the ...read more

belize600x

Charter Special: Belize

It would be hard to imagine a more secure spot than the Sunsail base on the outskirts of the beachside community of Placencia, Belize. The entire marina is protected by a robust seawall with a channel scarcely a few boatlengths across. It’s also located far enough up Placencia ...read more

DSC00247

DIY: a Top-to-Bottom Refit

I found my sailing “dream boat” in the spring of 1979 while racing on Lake St. Clair in Michigan. Everyone had heard about the hot new boat in town, and we were anxiously awaiting the appearance of this new Pearson 40. She made it to the starting line just before the race ...read more

01-oysteryachts-regattas-loropiana2016_063

Light-air Sails and How to Handle Them

In the second of a two-part series on light-air sails, Rupert Holmes looks at how today’s furling gear has revolutionized sail handling off the wind. Read part 1 here. It’s easy to look at long-distance racing yachts of 60ft and above with multiple downwind sails set on roller ...read more

HanseCharles

Video Tour: Hanse 348

“It’s a smaller-size Hanse cruiser, but with some big-boat features,” says SAIL’s Cruising Editor, Charles J. Doane. At last fall’s Annapolis Boat Show, Doane had a chance to take a close look at the new Hanse 348. Some of the boat’s highlights include under-deck galleries for ...read more

amalfitown

Charter Destination: Amalfi Coast

Prego! Weeks after returning from our Italian flotilla trip last summer, I was still feeling the relaxed atmosphere of the Amalfi Coast. It’s a Mediterranean paradise, with crystal-clear waters, charming hillside towns and cliffside villages, plenty of delicious food and wine, ...read more

image005

Inside or Outside When Sailing the ICW

Last April, my wife, Marjorie, and I decided to take our Tartan 4100, Meri, north to Maryland from her winter home in Hobe Sound, Florida. This, in turn, meant deciding whether to stay in the “Ditch” for the duration or go offshore part of the way. Although we had both been ...read more

MK1_30542

SailGP: There’s a New Sailing Series in Town

San Francisco was the venue of the biggest come-from-behind victory in the history of the America’s Cup when Oracle Team USA beat Emirates Team New Zealand in 2013, so it seems only fitting that the first American round of Larry Ellison’s new SailGP pro sailing series will be ...read more