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Sail-World NZ - October 1, 2019: America's Cup ..Mixed Offshore..Boat show starts Thursday

by Richard Gladwell, Sail-World.com/nz 1 Oct 2019 09:31 BST 1 October 2019
Emirates Team New Zealand's Ac75 Te Aihe sailing in the Hauraki Gulf © Emirates Team New Zealand

Welcome to Sail-World.com's New Zealand e-magazine for October 1, 2019

There's a big week coming up for the America's Cup, with AC75 launchings expected on Wednesday by the Challenger of Record, Luna Rosa, and then on Friday by INEOS Team UK.

By the weekend we will know the range of first design attempts from the four teams who are building two AC75's. We are also expecting more news from the fifth team Stars + Stripes Team USA.

In Auckland, Emirates Team New Zealand is somewhat hamstrung by the Spring weather.

Last Sunday was a solid seven-hour session for Te Aihe, in what were apparently 15-20kt offshore winds.

When the outcome of the 36th America's Cup has been determined, September-October 2019 could well be the crucial period.

The northern hemisphere teams would have expected to be sailing their first AC75's some time in May-June 2019 and gathering vital data for the design of their second AC75. On that basis, they are three or so months behind.

All the two boat/Super-teams are now on the critical path to get their design data as good as it can be, before they have to push the go button, lock the design off, and let the builders take over.

Lead times for an AC75 from lofting to launching are, according to Emirates Team NZ's chief designer, Dan Bernasconi, almost 12 months. That schedule means the Challenger teams will be launching their race boats about a year or so from now, and probably in Auckland.

Shipping also has to be factored into that time frame. For the Challengers, it means allowing 50 days to ship to New Zealand. So Schedules are now starting to get very tight, as time begins to evaporate fast.

Certainly, if a team elects to air-freight their hull to New Zealand for final fit-out, they can claw back some time. Also, most of the other components can be made in New Zealand, by the team or suppliers without infringing the Constructed in Country requirements of the Protocol.

Whatever the options and possibilities, be in no doubt that time is now a very scarce commodity at present in the 36th America's Cup.

As we have noted before, Emirates Team New Zealand has an easier run of it, being outside the Challenger Selection Series, and has a couple of months or so on the Challengers.

Mixed Offshore answers required

In this edition, we carry a long story looking at the issues with the proposed Mixed Two-Person Offshore Keelboat into the 2024 Olympic Sailing Regatta in Marseille.

While there are no further votes to be taken, save for any to overturn the November 2018 decision, the basics and detail of the event have yet to be worked through, agreed and published.

The fundamental issues are selecting the class of boat to be used - and when this will be announced. World Sailing want to leave it until late 2023, saying that keeping the choice under wraps will prevent an "Arms Race" as serious countries gear up with boats at NZD$200,000 each. Two is a minimum to form a useful program.

Two-crew coaching programs for the new event have been offered at €850,000 per year. That sounds very expensive, but when broken down (it includes the use of two boats, running four sailors, plus support boats, coach salaries, depreciation etc.), it is not that far out of line and offers flexibility in a high-risk program.

As we have seen in other sports, attempts to limit a feared Arms Race by introducing tight rules only serve to exacerbate the spending.

The biggest issue with the new class lies in Qualification, where World Sailing proposes a "continental" system for about 20 entries.

Sounds great until you run the numbers and then see the inequities, spring up like mushrooms after a shower of rain.

One suspects that in Europe, some have run the numbers and realise that whichever way this system runs, they have a smooth run through the yet to be declared process. There are only a few ways the qualification system can run, and short of redrawing the world map, some will have it easier than others.

The key issue for New Zealand comes when we get put into the same group as Australia, with only one to go through from a regional qualification Trial.

France, as the lead advocate for the new event, and also host nation are automatically qualified - without having to bother with "continental" trial issues.

While the so-called media attraction of the event can be shadow-boxed - between proponents of the event on one side, and those experienced in sailing media coverage on the other. It is a complete nonsense to compare the appeal of a 60-hour Olympic offshore event with a nine-month Volvo Ocean Race, backed by a massive media operation.

Details of the new event may be hammered out at the Annual Conference of World Sailing, next month.

Of course, there is no guarantee that the Mixed Offshore event will fare any better than Women's Match Racing.

That one-Olympic wonder had similar claims made about fan following etc., accompanied by substantial participation cost, with a much better pre-existing international infrastructure, competition and fleets.

Women's Match Racing lasted for just the 2012 Olympic Regatta before it was ditched by World Sailing, much to the chagrin of all involved.

Will Mixed Offshore follow suit come, Los Angeles, 2028?

SailGP in review

Staying with Marseille, the final round of SailGP concluded on the weekend of September 20-22.

At stake was a $1million "Winner takes All" cash prize, which may have had some effect on fan interest in the event, but the reality is that regattas have to stand alone from prizemoney to be a success.

SailGP is a very ambitious project and has done well to get the level it has in its first year. Some would say that with Larry Ellison's financial backing, it would be hard to fail. But that overlooks the hard work that has gone on behind the scenes - particularly from the team at Core Builders Composites who have performed superbly to get the fleet on the water in the first place, and then keep the show on the water for six regattas.

Much of what we have seen with SailGP has been a follow on from what was seen in the 34th and 35th America's Cups with the America's Cup World Series - high local impact and we suspect a relatively lower TV and online audience.

The latter won't improve until the broadcast is free to air and immediately available on replay. That way, fans can see the race they have missed, without knowing the result.

The other big accolade must go to the second and third-placed teams - both Asian - but skippered by Nathan Outteridge (AUS) and Phil Robertson (NZL) respectively.

Winners, Tom Slingsby and his crew largely from Oracle Team USA, were odds-on favourites to win from the outset, however for the Asian teams to head off the USA, France and Great Britain crews is a significant achievement. The SailGP result sits comfortably alongside the Volvo Ocean Race win, along with the accomplishments of the Scallywag and Beau Geste professional race teams.

New location and look for Auckland On the Water Boat Show

The Auckland On The Water Boat Show gets underway on Thursday at the new location in Downtown Auckland - and is more embedded in the Viaduct Harbour than previously. The dates have also shifted to take in the School Holidays - we're expecting to see an increase in visitor numbers. There's also plenty of parking available nearby in the city carparks, a short walk to the venue.

You can enter from the Hobson Wharf/Big Boat end of the venue, or across Wynyard Bridge (alongside the Emirates Team New Zealand base) and onto Te Wero Island, where the first of two pavilions are located. Drop by the Sail-World stand V127, in the Eastern Viaduct Pavilion and have a chat. We always look forward to the AOWBS and the opportunity to meet face to face with our readers and get feedback on Sail-World and how we can improve our coverage.

This Show Sail-World's stand will be focussed on the America's Cup. We hope to be able to replay the Luna Rossa and INEOS Team UK launchings, along with any AC75 video we can lay our hands-on.

See you at the Show!

For all the latest news from NZ and around the world see below.

Between newsletters, you can follow all the racing and developments in major and local events on www.sail-world.com/nz or by scrolling to the top of the site, select New Zealand, and get all the latest news and updates from the sailing world.

Good sailing!

Richard Gladwell
NZ Editor

Please forward your news stories and images directly to Sail-World NZ as text in the email and attach images in the standard way for emails. Our email address is sailworldnzl@gmail.com

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