Update: In what regards the nationality rules Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa might impose, there is an important issue we overlooked. Törnqvist might be Swedish, however he has no obligation whatsoever to represent a Swedish yacht club in order to challenge for the 35th America’s Cup. Outteridge is Australian and could very well build an Australian core group, so the obvious solution would be to challenge through an Australian yacht club.
If you have been following this website during the current America’s Cup cycle, the statement the Swedish billionaire and owner of Artemis Racing made today in an interview with Bloomberg’s Aaron Kuriloff shouldn’t come as a surprise at all. In fact, we have written extensively in the last couple of months about it and it was widely rumored since a month or so that Paul Cayard was on the ejection seat.
Törnqvist seems to have full confidence on Percy and states that “Iain is one of those people who never seeks leadership, but people ask him for it and that’s very unique. Iain has that charisma and that personality — he earns it somehow.” If Törnqvist is sincere in this interview, it appears he’s seriously contemplating to continue his America’s Cup adventure and challenge for the 35th edition of the world’s oldest sports event.
Artemis Racing will keep a core group of people to build around Percy and Nathan Outerridge, helmsman of the Swedish team, and see what happens before taking a decision whether to go ahead or not. However, there seems to be potential hurdle in the Swedish billionaire’s plans, mainly the prospect of stricter nationality rules onboard the racing yachts.
If Emirates Team New Zealand comes out victorious in San Francisco, Luna Rossa will be the Challenger of Record and both Grant Dalton and Patrizio Bertelli have made public statements strongly in favor of imposing nationalities rules. Even if they soften the regulations and allow 20-25% of foreign nationals onboard, it is difficult to imagine they will not require the key afterguard positions, especially the helmsman, to be of the challenging team’s nationality. Outteridge is a superb sailor that “can drive anything”, according to Törnqvist. He won an Olympic Gold medal last year in the 49er class but he’s not Swedish.
In any case, it’s encouraging to see Törnqvist already planning for the next campaign, despite the serious and tragic setbacks the team suffered in the last three years. It’s also good to see Percy taking such a prominent position in what could certainly be one of the most serious America’s Cup challengers.