Archive | March, 2013

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Emirates Team New Zealand reveal new secret weapon

Posted on 31 March 2013 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Emirates Team New Zealand] Emirates Team New Zealand, has been training throughout the southern hemisphere summer in home waters and prior to heading to San Francisco where the racing for the 34th America’s Cup will take place, the team today reveals a new performance enhancing innovation on board the 72-foot multihull.

While this particular innovation was not in their plans at the initial design stage, the addition is one of a continuing performance enhancing evolution and Emirates Team New Zealand managing director, Grant Dalton, expects this one to attract a lot of attention: “I am expecting a lot of noise about it, especially from the sailors in other teams who I am sure will feel that they are missing out.”

In a first for the team they have shared their innovation with the world: “Everything you do is not only about designing the fastest boat,” said skipper Dean Barker,“ but finding ways to improve that boat. We’re always looking for new features and new ideas on how to make the boat go faster and we’re very excited about this new development.”

Find out more via this exclusive video launch that demonstrates the innovation in action on the waters of the Hauraki Gulf.

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GKSS Spring Cup -­ The road to Marstrand

Posted on 29 March 2013 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: STENA Match Cup Sweden] There are ways to get into the Open Class of Stena Match Cup Sweden besides having a Tour Card on the Alpari World Match Racing Tour. One way is to compete in the GKSS Spring Cup where the winner is awarded a ticket to compete at Marstrand. This year there is also an extra qualifying spot for the best Swedish team.

GKSS Spring Cup has served as a qualifying event for Stena Match Cup Sweden for several years and the competition has always been fierce between the sailors aspiring to get to Marstrand. For Swedish sailors, the stakes are even higher in this year’s event as both the best Swedish team and the best international team will get a ticket to Stena Match Cup Sweden.

Registration for Spring Cup opened in early February and one team that has already applied for an invitation is Viktor Ogeman’s Team Accure. They received a wildcard to Stena Match Cup Sweden 2012 after placing fourth at last year’s Spring Cup.

“The chances of getting to Marstrand are a bit better for Swedish teams this year but it’s not going to be easy and there will be plenty of Swedish sailors in the fight for the ticket. To race at Marstrand last year and compete on such a high level was an important and energizing experience for us. That’s where we all want to be and our goal is definitely to win the Spring Cup”, says Viktor Ogeman, skipper of Team Accure.

The GKSS Spring Cup can lead to a breakthrough for match racing teams on the world stage. Last year’s winner of the GKSS Spring Cup, Reuben Corbett from New Zealand, had an impressive run at Marstrand in 2012 and reached the quarterfinals. He will be back with his team in Gothenburg for Spring Cup this year and the aim is set on Marstrand once again.

“I can’t wait to compete in May and it would mean a great deal for us to qualify for Stena Match Cup Sweden two years running. That is certainly the goal and we will give it our best shot. Marstrand is one of, if not the best World Tour Event and with the new changes to the Tour format it’s even harder to earn entry. Last year, our team made it right through to the quarter finals and we were winning all our races in the quarter finals but still came up short. That really shows the caliber of racing at Marstrand and we would really like to improve on last year’s performance and go one better,” says Reuben Corbett.

GKSS Spring Cup is run by The Royal Gothenburg Yacht Club and is sailed in Gothenburg on the 25th – 26th of May. Ten teams will be invited and the registration for an invitation will be open until April 30th. GKSS Spring Cup is an ISAF Grade 3 event and the regatta will be sailed in DS 37 type boats, crewed by five (or if only women crewed by six).

Besides the eight TourCard Holders of the Alpari World Match Racing Tour and the two teams qualifying in the Spring Cup, two teams will also be given wildcards to enter the Open Class of Stena Match Cup Sweden 2013.

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Video: Artemis Racing – Foiling AC45

Posted on 29 March 2013 by Valencia Sailing

Nice but short video of the modified Artemis Racing AC45 yacht, foiling over the waters of San Francisco bay

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Billionaires and sailing: negative or positive for the sport?

Posted on 28 March 2013 by Valencia Sailing

It goes without saying that when one of the world’s most prestigious newspapers, The Sunday Times, uses one of your photos on the front page of the Business Section to illustrate an article you can only be happy. As a result, we were delighted to see our photo of Tony Langley’s TP52 Gladiator having a prominent placement on the British newspaper two weeks ago. For any sailor or sailing fan, the photo per se has nothing extraordinary. It was shot the moment the British crew was preparing to tack in one of the beats of a race at the 2012 AUDI Valencia Cup. We were lucky enough on the photo boat to be right next to Gladiator’s layline and shot the sequence of the tack. The newspaper’s photo editor found one of the photos to be front page material, especially since Langley’s name and national flag were more than visible on the boom right over his head.

Our photo of Tony Langley’s TP52 Gladiator made it to the front page of the Business Section of The Sunday times two weeks ago. Long term is this association of the sport with billionaires a positive or negative factor?

However, the scope of this piece isn’t to brag about our photos but to wonder what long-term effect this association of sailing with billionaires might have for the development of the sport. Does it reinforce the long-held view that sailing is an elitist sport? On the other hand, how could a sailing photo have such a prominent position in the business section otherwise? Not only that, Langley is a successful self-made businessman whose group employs 4,000 people worldwide and has an annual turnover of close to one billion euros. Will his photo entice other successful entrepreneurs to join the ranks of TP52 owners or of other similar classes?

Since its inception in 2007, the RC44 class has been about and for its boat owners. The TP52′s had a similar start and then went through a, disastrous, period of trying to be what they weren’t. Under Santa Monica Sport’s leadership, the Medcup pretended to be a popular event with mass appeal, something that couldn’t be further apart from reality. It survived a few years thanks to the easy money Spanish cities had access to and then collapsed when the tap was turned off. Did the monumental race villages and public areas bring more sponsors and teams? None whatsoever! The three founding owners of the 52 Super Series, Niklas Zennström, Alberto Roemmers and Doug DeVos, make it no secret that they want to build a circuit that caters to the owners.

On a smaller scale, the struggling Soto40 class is also composed solely of privately-owned boats, both in Europe and Latin America. At the other end of the sailing spectrum, the America’s Cup has reconfirmed its identity as a battleground for multi-billionaires and even in the Extreme Sailing Series, nearly half of the teams are either backed by a rich owner or bankrolled by a sultan.

So, the question is: Can high-level professional sailing exist without the wealthy owners? Will the sport of sailing in general benefit from the presence of more rich individuals or will it be hurt? If the 15 RC44′s and 10 TP52′s didn’t exist what would have filled the void? Is there really a truly commercially viable alternative? If yes, where is it?

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The MOD70′s give up on 2013 season and focus on 2014-16

Posted on 27 March 2013 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: MOD70] The inaugural MOD70 racing season was deemed a great success proving the potential of the one-design MOD70 Class and the full value of this innovative concept in the sailing world through the boat performance, reliability, the tight races and exciting events. Over 850’000 visitors followed the competition in the race village of the “Krys Ocean Race” and “MOD70 European Tour”. Since the launch of the first MOD70, Race for Water, in March 2011, the circuit has generated an estimated 24 million Euro international media return.

2013 Competition Season

In the absence of a title sponsor for 2013, MOD and teams have opted on competing in events that include different classes.

The MOD70 fleet program includes a European Tour in the “Route des Princes” next June and most likely the “Transat Jacques Vabre” race between Le Havre (France) and Itajai (Brazil) with scheduled start on the 3rd of November.

2014 – 2016 Horizon

It is important to note that the MOD70 fleet is growing with the launch of MOD70 nr.06 Virbac Paprec (skippered by Jean-Pierre Dick) and the arrival of an American Team Orion Racing, which purchased MOD70 nr.02 (ex-Veolia) with Cam Lewis, regarded as one of the best multihull sailors in the USA, part of the team. A North-American team entry opens up new perspectives for the circuit.

With an international participation at the highest level composed of a minimum 7 teams, MOD’s objective is now to actively work on the 2014-2016 circuit program, with notably the second edition of the “Krys Ocean Race” (from Brest to New York). The first edition, with a finish during the Tonnerres de Brest, proved a great success and the second edition is soon to be announced.

The Multi One Design core principles, being a one-design MOD70 fleet, an international circuit, with inshore/offshore races and being an eco-responsible model, continue to be the benchmarks to which work continues with partners on developing the circuit from 2014.

The MOD 70′s are in dire straits…

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Jimmy Spithill’s grueling fitness training sessions

Posted on 26 March 2013 by Valencia Sailing

Jimmy Spithill’s grueling fitness training sessions

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Where next for the America’s Cup World Series?

Posted on 26 March 2013 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: America's Cup] In the old days, you needed a boat to go and watch an America’s Cup race. Now you can walk up to the edge of the race course. Of the slew of innovations brought in for this America’s Cup, bringing the racing in from the ocean has to be most popular.

Last week a number of our race management team left for Naples, Italy, for the ninth and final America’s Cup World Series (AC World Series) event before the Louis Vuitton Cup and America’s Cup. This gave me pause to think: has the AC World Series been worth it?

Let’s first look back to why the AC World Series was established:

1. Proof of Concept: stadium racing and a live television broadcast that captures the audience;
2. More visibility for team and event sponsors; and
3. Create an annual competition to build anticipation and excitement for the once-every-four-yearly Louis Vuitton Cup and America’s Cup.

Regarding objective 1, the answer is a resounding “yes”, it has been worth it. The AC World Series has created memorable images of the crowds lining the shore and cheering like the fans at a football match. If you ask any of the sailors if they get a buzz when they hear the roar of the crowd, you will get a very vocal “yes”.

Similarly regarding the TV product. If proof was needed that sailing could be exciting, the AC World Series delivered! One Emmy Award already won plus a nomination for a second, along with USA ratings that have at least matched the 2013 NHL averages. Importantly, the ratings suggest that when viewers watch the best sailors racing America’s Cup boats, they tune-in and stay tuned-in.

We have achieved more visibility, both in terms of fans watching the events and TV viewers. As at October 2012 (the second of two events here in San Francisco), the AC World Series had delivered a cumulative TV audience of more than 250-million, nearly 12-million YouTube views, 7-million visitors to the America’s Cup website and more than 2-million spectators on site at regattas.

Can the America’s Cup World Series really become a 14-event, financially sustainable circuit? Photo copyright Carlo Borlenghi / Luna Rossa

Naples will be the ninth AC World Series event. We have seen spills and thrills, five different fleet race and four different match race winners. The AC World Series has also seen new stars emerge…young ones!! So “yes”, the AC World Series has delivered the anticipation and excitement we expected. That said, we haven’t delivered a compelling ‘annual season’, but more a series of one-off events.

So where to from here for the AC World Series?

First, it needs a regular season of 14 or more events. All the great competitions have a ‘season’ that includes at least 18 events/matches and we need to get close to that to make the sports pages week after week. This will mean the AC World Series adopts a ‘hub-and-spoke’ model for its logistics: ship to a port and road/rail to multiple locations. Second, the competition needs to be for something the public can relate to: prize money! Third, costs need to be contained, which means shorter events with much less equipment and personnel taken on the road. Finally, having over-achieved as a proof-of- concept series, we need to evolve it into one with a direct and tangible connection to the America’s Cup itself.

The America’s Cup World Series has achieved what it was set up to do. The challenge now is to develop it into a financially sustainable sports property that is connected to the America’s Cup. It is certainly what the sailors want.

Stephen Barclay
CEO, America’s Cup Event Authority

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More misinformation and murky stuff

Posted on 25 March 2013 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Emirates Team New Zealand] After my blog on spying on the competition, people have been asking how teams manage to keep secrets when the opposition can approach to within 200 metres because cameras are more than capable of getting in close at that range.

That’s true. In Valencia, at the 2007 LVC finals against Luna Rossa, we shot their notice board each morning from our roof top, at a range of 350 metres, to read little titbits of information.

Misinformation is a great counter-measure, other than not putting a notice board where people can photograph it.

Muddy the water enough and it’s hard to pick fact from fiction and, as people are inclined to believe what they want to believe, teams do have some scope to cover their tracks.

For example, in the 2000 America’s Cup, we (at Prada) had a boom that was way ahead of its time and only half the weight of all our competitors’ booms, thanks to Gio Belgrano (now with Emirates Team New Zealand).

We knew we were on to a winner and did not want Paul Cayard and his boys next door to find out about it.

So whenever the boom was moved, four people did the job even though two could have easily lifted it. The opposition never caught on.

In 2003, again with Prada, we had a series of races with our 1992 boat against NZL39, the boat Chris Dickson had sailed in 1995.

On paper the new boat should have been all over the old design, and would have been had both masts been equal. But we were developing, with Southern Spars, a mast that was much stiffer than the others.

That performance increase shocked even us as the old boat was simply faster than the newer one. To take attention away from the mast, we leaked that the boat was not legal – it didn’t measure.

We had moved outside the measurement rules to make it faster, and therefore competitive with the newer boats. A reasonable and plausible story. They swallowed it hook, line and sinker because they wanted to believe it.

Last year when we were finalizing our foiling on our scaled down 72 boats Oracle was sniffing around and being a general pain in the backside.

We definitely did not want them to know that we had figured out how to “fly” at that point, but we needed to test so we had to sail.

The boat with the flying (foiling) package appeared to break down, slowly being towed home. The other boat, with lots of interest from the shadowing chase boat, started sailing in the other direction, to draw the Oracle flies away.

Once separated, the boat with the foils could do their thing, without the spies knowing. The mistake Oracle made was not checking who was going with which boat … had they done that they might have seen through the smoke screen.

In the old days, Team New Zealand was the king of misinformation. I am still learning the lengths they would go to muddy the water. As for nowadays …. well it is still the America’s Cup.

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