He hardly needs any introduction. The legendary American sailor talked to VSail.info about the 34th America’s Cup, his team Artemis Racing from Sweden and his job as CEO:
VSail.info: After two America’s Cup World Series events has the format lived up to your expectations?
Paul Cayard: Yes, I think that generally it is going very well with really exciting racing on shorter courses, close to the public. I think the format is very good and the product will grow in popularity.
VSail.info: Do you see any weak points or at least some points where there is still room for improvement?
Paul Cayard: There is always room for improvement and the teams together with the organization are having discussions on how to improve it and I think that we will improve it as we go forward but exactly what that will be, I’m not able to comment on right now.
VSail.info: Your team, Artemis Racing, is the challenger of record. Does that mean your opinion counts more, compared to the other challengers, in these discussions?
Paul Cayard: Technically speaking we have some positions, we have the right to veto any protocol changes. As far as the race format is concerned that wouldn’t necessarily require any protocol changes. Actually, a change in the number of races would require a protocol change but other aspects, such as the number of races per day or the time trials don’t require a change in the protocol. Being the challenger of record we have a stronger voice but we are very much into supporting the independent management concept, we are more interested in working with all the teams and the event organizer to try to produce the best sailing product possible. We are not trying to flex our position as challenger of record.
VSail.info: Are you satisfied with the performance of Artemis Racing in these two first events in Cascais and Plymouth?
Paul Cayard: Yes, in general. We were second in the first event and as you know we had a crash in the second event which obviously didn’t allow us to get the final result we wanted. Leading up to that, Artemis had won the fleet racing preliminaries on Wednesday and Thursday in Plymouth. I think the guys are taking it on, they identified some weaknesses in Cascais, worked on them and improved and were in better shape in Plymouth. Still, you should bear in mind we are rotating the crew on our boat more than most teams. We had two new crew out of five on the boat in Plymouth.
It’s hard, you know, to rotate the crew because the boats are so demanding and difficult to sail. So, being consistent with the team would have made it easier but our goal is to broaden out the number of team members that get exposed to catamaran sailing in the America’s Cup World Series. We are balancing the results and the big picture, which is to win the America’s Cup in 2013.
VSail.info: Artemis Racing is also involved in the Extreme Sailing Series. Will you also keep that parallel catamaran program in the future?
Paul Cayard: We are just reviewing actually these days next year’s schedule and we will hold a sort of executive committee meeting next week to make a decision. We really enjoyed the Extreme 40’s, they gave our team a great head start in learning how to sail multihulls but 2012 will be a very busy year with the continuation of the AC45 racing but also the launch of the AC72. We are mindful of the fact that you can’t do everything and do it well. As I said, we are going to decide about that next week.
VSail.info: Even if that will be in almost two years from now, conventional wisdom wants the Louis Vuitton Cup final to be between Artemis and Emirates Team New Zealand? Do you share this view? Do you see any other challenger that might sneak in?
Paul Cayard: You know, these paper predictions are always swirling around in any sporting event and they are just based on the level the teams are in this point of time and based on the level the teams are tight in this point of time I would agree that Artemis and Team New Zealand look like the strongest challengers. Still, there is a long way to go and one thing I would like to add is that this is a rather unconventional America’s Cup. If there was ever a chance for someone to have a brilliant idea and upset everybody’s prediction this Cup is the one!
VSail.info: The winner of the LV Cup will then have to face the Defender. Oracle Racing have recently announced the purchase of another two AC45 yachts and the start of two-boat training and testing in San Francisco while none of the challengers is doing that. Do you think this puts them in such an advantageous position, difficult to overcome by the challengers?
Paul Cayard: It is indeed a very good program and everybody is trying to do what they can to augment their training. Team New Zealand has a little program with some smaller catamarans and we have the ORMA. It’s clear we have thought about it and we would also like to have two more AC45’s but right now our budget won’t allow us to do that. We do have the sailors, we have 13 sailors in our team and we could easily race two AC45’s but that would be another cost. The bottom line is that if you can afford what Oracle is doing, then it is an advantage.
VSail.info: Your development program for this campaign includes the modified ORMA60 trimaran you just mentioned. We recently saw it sailing in Valencia with a conventional mast and mainsail. How does this contribute to the development of a winged 72ft catamaran?
Paul Cayard: You are right in noting the differences. Basically, it’s a platform boat that we hope we will be able to use to develop our crew maneuvering before obviously having an AC72. We are working on the deck layout, the daggerboard systems and, eventually, we hope to put the wing on the ORMA. It’s a matter of trying to do some training, albeit on a trimaran, before having the AC72 so that we can gain some knowledge of what is working and what isn’t. All the three big teams, Oracle, ourselves and Team New Zealand, are trying to put mostly daggerboards and wings. The other teams are using catamarans, we are using a trimaran because it’s what we can come up with. Each of the three big teams is trying to develop some of the components that will go on the AC72.
VSail.info: Can you comment on the test sailing sessions in Valencia? What conclusions have you drawn?
Paul Cayard: We are happy to be in Valencia and we had great sailing conditions. For us it works because our design office is based here. Sailing the ORMA here has been very enlightening as we had the guys on a big boat, the ORMA is about 75 feet long. There are things the crew has learned to deal with on a boat of that side. The advantage we are hoping to gain is to foresee some of the order of magnitude of problems we are going to have handling an AC72 with 11 people on a very windy venue in San Francisco.
VSail.info: The venue being San Francisco, why did you come here and didn’t go directly there?
Paul Cayard: We decided we needed to stay close to our design team and test some components on the ORMA. We decided it would be more convenient to be here this year and go to San Francisco next year. We will in fact go there in July with our AC72 and train together with Oracle. So, we plan to get a little of both. Also, some components of our AC72 are being built right here in Spain. The hulls will be obviously built in Sweden but the assembly and lots of bits and pieces will be done around Valencia, that’s why it’s convenient for our design team to stay in touch with all of that. As you can imagine there are a lot of factors influencing where we go. The truth is that Valencia in the winter time is a much better place to sail than San Francisco. There is a lot of current and not much wind in San Francisco in winter time. Hopefully, we will have nice conditions here through the winter and spring and then we’ll go to San Francisco.
VSail.info: Let’s also talk about the future a couple of years ahead. If Artemis Racing is successful in its challenge, has Torbjorn Tornqvist indicated whether he would like to defend the 35th America’s Cup in Stockholm?
Paul Cayard: Naturally, there is an idea to do that and I leave that entirely up to him, that part of the challenge is his. I’m sure he’d love to defend it in Stockholm if that makes sense. He obviously feels strongly about Sweden, that’s why we are challenging from Sweden, and he’s proud to represent his home country. I’m sure he would be extremely proud to take the Cup back to Stockholm. However, I can’t give you a hard comment right now, it’s up to Torbjorn.
VSail.info: Another question about the future is the type of boats to be used. Do you think that we have definitely turned a page in the history books and there is no way back to monohulls, regardless of the winner in 2013?
Paul Cayard: This is a tough question because whoever wins this America’s Cup will have obviously won on multihulls and they will feel a natural strength against the competition. Probably, from a competitive standpoint, whoever wins will want to keep it in multihulls. However, depending on the participation level, someone might claim that there could be more participants if we went back to monohulls.
As you know, Russell and I worked on the World Sailing League 6 years ago, on the idea that multihull racing was more exciting. When you asked me before if the AC45 format was working, the product we now have is a 25-minute race, with very exciting and fast boats, a lot of action, too much action at times, with accidents and capsizes. We also race very close to shore and I think it’s more digestible for the public. This product now needs to continue to be shown through the AC World Series events through the next two years and I really believe that by the time we get to San Francisco and the America’s Cup we will have a much bigger audience following sailing and the America’s Cup because of the choice of the catamarans.
VSail.info: My last question is more personal. Would you rather be the skipper or the CEO of an America’s Cup team? Do you miss sailing and racing on the boats?
Paul Cayard: I have to say that I do miss sailing. This is the first America’s Cup that I have done where I’m not sailing. Way back in the 1980’s I was the tactician or helmsman but for 20 years I was the skipper and CEO of various teams and I miss that. I miss the sailing but this is a very big and complex challenge from the technical side. The sailors had to make a very big transition from monohull to multihull and that required a full-time commitment, just to make that transition. The team needed to be built up, we needed to identify and hire all the right people, build the administration and someone needs to coordinate that. The truth is that in this Cup it’s not easy to put a team together, stand on top of all the technical issues and try to be one of the best multihull sailors in the world. This is too much to do and I feel I’m doing the responsible thing to divide it all up. We have a great leader and skipper on the water, Terry Hutchinson, and he’s obviously doing a great job. You have seen the results in the Extreme 40’s, they are making a very good job of making that transition and I, hopefully, am doing as good a job as he’s doing in trying to put the team together.