At last a very interesting sailing video from Artemis Racing! The America’s Cup Challenger of Record publishes spectacular footage of their AC45 yacht foiling in San Francisco:
Posted on 10 April 2013 by Valencia Sailing
At last a very interesting sailing video from Artemis Racing! The America’s Cup Challenger of Record publishes spectacular footage of their AC45 yacht foiling in San Francisco:
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
Posted on 09 January 2013 by Valencia Sailing
[Source: Luna Rossa] The Luna Rossa sailing and shore crew have all returned to the team’s Auckland base to resume the training and development program.
The plan for January is to make the most of the 13 remaining days allowed by the Protocol to sail the AC72 prior to the January 31st deadline.
This coming week the team will be concentrating on match racing practice sessions with its two AC45 catamarans Luna Rossa Swordfish and Luna Rossa Piranha. Both boats were shipped back to Auckland from San Francisco following the end of the last America’s Cup World Series regattas in October 2012.
At the same time an additional group of sailors will be training on the SL33 catamaran to practice foiling techniques.
Starting from next week the crew will resume training on the Luna Rossa AC72 catamaran.
The main goals for this first period will be a mix of crew training sessions around the course and speed tests. The training work on the AC72 will be alternated in the coming weeks with practice on the AC45 boats and on the SL33.
Posted on 24 November 2012 by Valencia Sailing
[Source: Energy Team] After four trips aboard the Artemis AC72, Loïck Peyron, skipper of Energy Team, gives us his first impressions of this impressive winged giant, with her exceptional size, her potential for power and her high speeds…
Loïck Peyron: “We have sailed aboard her four times and she is extremely powerful. That isn’t that much of a surprise for me, as I have spent a long time looking at the design of these machines, but it is still all very impressive. To sum up, these are boats that aren’t that wide or that big, but which have a very powerful “engine”. To get an idea of what I mean, it’s a bit like putting a V8 or V12 engine on a go-kart. So it is no easy matter making use of all that power. We saw what can happen when Oracle capsized. These machines require caution. My job was to be something like a test pilot on this AC72. I’m here to find just how far we can take things and avoid those hairy moments, when the boat starts to dig in, for example. Already by the second or third trip, I found myself out there on the helm and I can say it’s fascinating.”
What is the difference from an AC45?
LP: “They don’t have that much in common. Proportionally, the AC72s are much more unstable. Because looking at the base, the engine is that much more powerful. You need to add on a third more power to an AC45 to get some sort of idea. And then, there is the sheer scale: everything is that much heavier, including the wing, of course and the centre of gravity is not that well placed, as it is higher up. On top of that, there is a lot of inertia… the “engine” is extremely powerful, but above all she is always in gear. And of course, you can’t take in a reef…”
“Yes. Of all the boats I have sailed on, she is the trickiest. When you start flying downwind, it is very impressive and that is one of the major questions that interest us: you need to find a compromise, knowing when to fly, but above all without using too much energy to do that. For me, flying aircraft for more than twenty years, it is very interesting. After each day out there sailing, we need to spend several days ashore fine-tuning the boat on every level. For the moment, we are just working on boat number 1, but we have already got some ideas about the second one. With the first one, it’s rather like racing with 30kg on your shoulders. Once the second boat is on the water, that weight won’t be there any more.”
“Very. For the moment, we’re taking it step by step deliberately, so we’re not out there looking for the highest speed. But we have already reached 26 knots in just 10 knots of wind.”
A useful experience for the Energy Team project?
“In every America’s Cup there is a transfer season between the teams. I’m a bit like a jobbing actor going from one team to another, or maybe more like a Swiss army knife for the team – that’s what Ernesto (Bertarelli) called me when I was with Alinghi. Of course, and it is quite normal, I have certain obligations and have to keep certain info to myself: there are certain things I can’t share with others, but it is obvious that bringing all these experiences together benefits everyone. I am in fact the first member of Energy Team to be hired by another team, but I probably won’t be the last. With Bruno and Energy Team, we have managed to build up a pool of talent. If we manage to get everything together for the next Cup, all of these experiences will be useful For the moment, from a personal perspective, this is an exceptional opportunity to try to make it all the way with Artemis, or in other words right through the Louis Vuitton Cup and further if possible…”
Posted on 12 October 2012 by Valencia Sailing
Onboard during the China Team AC45 capsize
Posted on 08 March 2012 by Valencia Sailing
Here’s the second installment of the long, but very interesting and educating to read, interview. Turner talks in depth about the Extreme Sailing Series, the America’s Cup, the sport of sailing and the fine line between making sailing attractive to sponsors and the public and catering to the needs of the rich boat owners. [Click here for the first part of the interview]:
VSail.info: Let’s now talk about the teams participating in the 2012 Extreme Sailing Series. You had 11 last year, you now have eight, with the eighth one being a last-minute deal. Do you see this as a weakness?
Mark Turner: If you look at the numbers since the beginning, eight has been our maximum of full-time teams, plus three or four wildcards. Each year that has been our aim, to have eight boats. We had seven in 2010 and I’m very happy with that, to be honest. In practical terms for us, and this is quite different to the measures you might use in most traditional sailing events, eight boats is genuinely the number which is good. Last year we had ten teams because the eleventh was our own boat that we needed to fulfill contractual obligations with venues but in Istanbul we had too many boats. We couldn’t race in a stadium and the Alinghi crash fundamentally came with the difficulties in racing in a small stadium with eleven boats. In Almeria we, unfortunately, had light winds but had we had more breeze we couldn’t have raced all the boats at the same time. Our sailing stadium format, which is absolutely the heart of the product, has some limits. For us, eight boats is the right number, seven would be fine as well, but ten is just too many, even if in some venues you can put more.
Our objective this year was to have eight boats with the ability to have one or two wildcards, at events where this is appropriate, and this is exactly what we have. I’m very proud of that because these are not easy times because most of the teams are commercially-funded in one way or another. The mathematical problem with aiming at eight is that a variation of plus or minus two is very dramatic. Plus two you have ten, too many, but minus two you have six, probably not enough. It’s quite a scary process and it’s not that easy to get there. We had to turn down quite a few teams that wanted to do five or six events. All of the eight teams racing here in Oman will do the entire season. As you know, the Danish team was a bit of a last-minute deal but we’ll have eight-nine boats in Qingdao, probably nine in Istanbul, nine in the UK and probably ten in Brazil by the end of the year. Wildcards are important but we didn’t want that to become a norm, so that people just join the events they want to. At some point we might lose that fight but until now the importance of winning the overall circuit has been up there. Inevitably, you will have some things that change. Artemis entered last year with the intention of doing the whole season but as the America’s Cup had its technical difficulties and their priorities changed, they bowed out. They didn’t feel very good about that, they were very apologetic and it wasn’t good for us to have that happen. We are trying to avoid that, even if we are never able to complete do it. Big teams come and do this as an extra thing, it’s never their priority. That’s the problem with the America’s Cup teams.
VSail.info: Absolutely, but on the other hand they add to the quality of the circuit as well, not just the quantity. Team New Zealand, Artemis and Luna Rossa are, after all, some of the world’s best sailing teams.
Mark Turner: I agree with you but Luna Rossa wasn’t an America’s Cup team in 2011. It was perfect for us. It was a high-level team, a good brand but it actually wasn’t trying to do the Cup at the same time. We had to Cup teams last year, Team New Zealand and Artemis, but we if had more that came to us, I think we would have turned them down. I knew they would come and then go, they were, basically, using it for training. That’s fine and, you are right, it adds an extra level but we are not short on good sailors. There is a plus and a minus with the Cup teams and we I never want to be in the position the World Match Racing Tour got into. They nailed their colors to the mast, they said “We are the road to the America’s Cup”, a very random thing that changes every few years. It’s very hard to plan long-term around the America’s Cup because you don’t know what is going to happen. A new guy might win it and change everything. It’s unheard of in other sports, having one of its most important parts run in such a random way.
Again, we would have said no to more Cup teams. For example, the Kiwis nearly made it to this event and Artemis might come and be a wildcard in some events. We’ll see what happens during the year. The important thing for us is to have this core set of teams with the majority of them being with a commercial objective because the whole structure has been set up for that. They must care about the hospitality side and they must care the public is there. If it becomes a Cup plus private owners circuit we might end up in the position the Medcup found itself. You try to please two very different groups of people and that is very difficult. A mix of that is always good and we always had some private owners. Erik Maris is was with us in the two previous seasons and is back this year well. It’s a nice mix to have but for us, ultimately, our objective is to get brands involved, brands that activate and use their sponsorship.
Red Bull is a great example but The Wave, where we are right now in this event, have had enormous success in promoting their resort in their key markets. That’s what we are trying to create and to have these teams is very important. Whether we achieve it or not in the long term remains to be seen but we have to keep on working to make it attractive to these guys. Sailing is a tough sport to sell.
VSail.info: Since you mentioned the Medcup I was curious to know your opinion about the end of AUDI’s sponsorship. Is it something that makes you happy? Do you see it as one competing circuit less in the market?
Mark Turner: No, not at all. I think that any brand leaving the sport is bad for all of us and a new brand coming in is always very good. Take for example Alpari and the World Match Racing Tour. We were also in talks at some point last year, we are disappointed we didn’t go any further but they did a gret job. That’s absolutely, unquestionably, a good thing for the sport. Brands need to see other companies coming into sailing, into commercially-driven parts of the sport and that helps all of us. When a company leaves the sport of sailing it has an adverse, negative effect.
VSail.info: Is the Extreme Sailing Series in search of a title sponsor?
Mark Turner: We have been looking for one during the last six months because 2011 was really an investment year for us, in terms of moving the whole vent on and choosing where we would go with the event rather under the influence of a main partner, allow us to grow it. Six months ago we started the search for two main partners, one of which might end up having the naming rights as well. We are reasonably down the line now with two companies and we have to see if we pull this one off for the next year, maybe even through this year. We want that, we need that, for the future. In the year 2010, without us choosing, we lost iShares very late in the season and in 2011, by our choosing, we ended up with two years where the revenue stream was completely changed. The sponsorship side is now a relatively small part of the total budget. Even with two main partners it will still be a minority part of the total funding.
VSail.info: Does most of the funding come from the host cities?
Mark Turner: Yes, from the cities. Overall, it’s several million that come from the cities. We still are a reasonably small event and we have a package that works well for the cities, what they have to pay is in the hundreds of thousands not millions. Each city deal is slightly different because you have a different amount of value-in-kind. For us, value-in-kind is very valuable. If the cities put on a lot of the infrastructure or the public entertainment that has a big impact on our budgets. So, each city is different but the value of the deals increases every year. It takes time because you generally do 2-3 year deals, so you can’t change from one year to the next but if you include value-in-kind, revenue from the cities is more than 50% of our income. The rest of the income comes from hospitality, entry fees for the teams, merchandising, in some events we sell public space in the villages and after we bought Tornado Sports last year we also sell boats, spares and sails.
We have diversified the revenue stream enormously, which is a much better and sane model for the future. However we absolutely need those two main sponsors as much for funding as for activation. In the last two years we missed having a main partner pushing us and activating.
VSail.info: Since the city deals are so important for the circuit, what is the main challenge you encounter when you approach a possible venue where sailing is not a popular sport?
Mark Turner: Quite the same as any other non-major sport. You usually talk to nine people that know nothing about the sport and one that might know something about it. You are educating them at the same time. One issue is the confusion in sailing as to where the different events sit. If they are also approached by other sailing events you have to explain the difference and where each one sits. I also think that people’s perception of sailing, 99% of the time, is that it’s about white sails somewhere over the horizon. First, we have to get the message across it’s not the same thing.
In Qingdao last year, we had the same team that ran the Olympics, the local organizing committee, and until the first day of racing they had no idea, they simply hadn’t understood at all what we were about. When they saw the boats sailing 5 meters from the pier, it blew them away. All the difficulties and challenges we had leading up to the event, when we explained where we wanted the VIP tent to be, where we wanted the TV cameras to be, were simply due to the fact they were used to the Olympics. The Olympics were in a set area somewhere away and they couldn’t understand we could sail anywhere we wanted and set any race course we wanted. That’s a difficult message to get across, it’s a challenge, in every new venue.
VSail.info: In the inner circles of the sport of sailing there is a debate going on over monohull and multihull yachts. Do potential venue cities care about the type of boat that is used? Can they even tell the difference?
Mark Turner: I think that people don’t care. I was in a meeting with a big, global, sports marketing agency about two years ago and the person I was talking to, meant to be their sailing expert, was asking me to tell him the differences between a monohull and a multihull. We are in a bubble and we forget entirely, entirely, how much we are in a bubble. I actually don’t care whether it’s a monohull or a multihull. What is important for this event is that the sporting action is as entertaining as it can be, in this order. We will never sail this event on a boat that is crap from a sporting point of view and doesn’t work from a sporting equity and doesn’t provide a fair winner. We will never do that.
As long as you have a boat that does that, what is important is that it’s entertaining. In an event such as Almeria, where the public, in the tens of thousands, was almost 100% non-sailing, I know that when a boat lifts a hull or accelerates very quickly and places change right in front of the audience, people lean back, take photos and their heads follow the action. That’s very hard to achieve with a monohull. I’m well away these days from worrying what class of boats the Olympics should choose, all I’m saying is that if part of your mission is to make it interesting to watch, then the multihull platform, as it stands today, is way better. It’s not a question whether people watching care if it’s a multihull because they mostly don’t care. It simply delivers what we need to deliver.
VSail.info: You state that in sailing we are in a bubble. Has your involvement with other sports brought new ideas or new perspectives?
Mark Turner: Definitely, not just for me seeing other sports but also our overall team has now a mix of different skills and backgrounds. That’s quite helpful. We are involved in the mass-participation side of running and cycling and it’s quite a different world, commercially, with sponsorship still being an important part but people pay entry fees to come. You have thousands of people in cycling and running that pay entry to watch. It’s a different model to what we do in sailing.
VSail.info: Do you think that we could charge entry fees in sailing? Will people pay a ticket to watch a regatta?
Mark Turner: They will do in the Olympics. However, when sponsorship is a core revenue stream you would be in a real dilemma because in order to make sponsorship more valued you need more people to come in. Charging a ticket and limiting the entry would be in conflict with the aim of increasing the value of sponsorship. If you are Wimbledon, it’s a different thing. You have different levels of desire you can a put a price on. I think that what we can do is the VIP side of things where people actually do pay to come in. Potentially, we could have the equivalent of an airplane with the Premium Economy class where there is a high level of hospitality, people go out on the water and people would pay at that level. I think that most people in sailing would struggle with the idea of charging tickets because we need more people to come and watch it.
VSail.info: Do you think that major TV networks will ever pay to broadcast sailing?
Mark Turner: There’s only a relatively few places where this has happened anyway, even when TV stations had more money and people had more latitude to do that kind of things. Perhaps the America’s Cup can but I’m not sure. In the 32nd America’s Cup in Valencia there were deals but the money changing hands was low and sometimes reduced the amount of coverage because they did the deals with the stations that really wanted it, not necessarily the stations they really wanted. Again, it’s the same thing. If your model is driven by sponsorship, you need to maximize the coverage rather than treat is as a revenue stream. When you start getting in the middle of that, 50-50, you compromise your coverage and you still get some income but you would be better off by simply enhancing your sponsorship value by getting the best deals. These days it’s a very hard game to have media coverage and you often have to pay or pay costs. For example, if you want something in different languages you will have to pay. They might provide something in English but unless we pay for the cost of doing it in Arabic, Chinese or Spanish they might not cover it. We might also provide different camera angles. It’s much more about partnerships with TV rather than seeing it a revenue stream. If you are football it’s different. If you are the Premier League it’s different but none of us, quite frankly the America’s Cup included, is the Premier League.
Posted on 01 March 2012 by Valencia Sailing
I warn you, it’s a long interview but it really is very interesting and educating to read. Turner talks in depth about the Extreme Sailing Series, the America’s Cup, the sport of sailing and the fine line between making sailing attractive to sponsors and the public and catering to the needs of the rich boat owners.
VSail.info: Can you give us an assessment of the 2011 Extreme Sailing season and what the future holds for 2012?
Mark Turner: We are now going into our sixth year and I would say that 2011 was a pivotal year for us, to go from a European circuit to a global, international circuit. People do underestimate the difficulty of doing that, working with so many different cultures, with a rhythm of events that in terms of organization almost doesn’t stop. It’s not only the difficulty of being in new cultures or new venues but also venues that had never had sailing before or at least this kind of sailing. It was a big year, a huge year and we invested a lot. We went into some venues that in a normal year we probably couldn’t afford to go to because we didn’t have agreements with the cities but they were strategic decisions such as Singapore and Boston. These were two venues we decided to go in 2011 and we had the investment funds to make these steps.
VSail.info: What do you mean you went there without having an agreement?
Mark Turner: We, obviously, had agreements from an authorization point of view but no funding. That’s not sustainable for us because we are a fully commercial circuit, we don’t have an open wallet anywhere. We have a certain amount of investment, some coming from me some coming from our shareholders, but we decided that the big step to make was to go global with it. I can’t tell you whether this will be a success or not because it will take a couple of years to work out whether the investment paid off or not. However, I think that the step was essential for us to make. In sport there aren’t many global competitions, in general. In fact, there are many European, Asian ones but outside of the world football cup or Formula 1 you can’t name that many.
Sailing doesn’t have that many and we always positioned our event and the focus of what we have done was always commercial, in the sense to be attracting cities that look for a real return, to attract team or event sponsors that try to use sailing as part of their sponsorship. For us, the global element was a bit of a gamble but, again, I think it was the right step for us to make. As you, obviously, know the venue side in Europe is increasingly difficult and it gets harder and harder to get paid. The further south you go the harder it is. That’s pretty stressful because we are working on pretty slim margins and there isn’t a lot of room for errors in our numbers. This has been really tough to manage so it’s very refreshing, albeit more difficult, in Asia, the Middle East and this year in South America.
It has been very challenging but nothing is easy in event organization. You have new blood, new energy, for many people it’s a new sport and they are very excited but you also have new challenges. In some places it’s harder to get the public involved because they don’t know what sailing is, so we are the beginning of the educational process. In other places it’s harder to run an event. The decision to go to China was made in September 2010 and to deliver an event in April 2011 was probably one of our biggest achievements, ever! It’s so different and you learn so much. It’s not an issue of China being particularly difficult, it’s just very different. We are a small team, a young team, we don’t have any big business sports people that have done a lot of those things before, so we had a lot of learning to do. For the teams as well, it was a big step to take. Ultimately, sailing is still principally a European “pastime” and for professional sailing, at the top level, most of what happens in the world is European based. So, you also need to take the sailors with you, to take the sponsors of those sailors with you. With no regrets about 2011, it has been overall a very big success for us. We still have plenty of things to learn, we made plenty of mistakes and if there was a moment to stop it would have been after that.
VSail.info: What was the biggest mistake you made in 2011?
Mark Turner: I think it’s rather a series of small things and not a single, big mistake. I’m happy with the direction we took. We might be sitting here in a few years time going, “You know, we should have kept it simple and stay in Europe” but I’m not interesting in keep doing the same thing. From a psychological point of view I need to keep pushing the barriers and when someone says it’s impossible that’s when I’d rather take on. That’s the way I think. Probably from a business perspective that is sometimes the wrong thing to do. I should have probably taken less risk and consolidated things, from a business perspective, but what I love doing is changing. I try to change things for the better and prove that you can overcome those barriers. For me, taking the circuit global was a key part of that, taking sailing into new places, helping people develop the sport in those areas, trying to make it entertaining.
I know that you personally and your website have been skeptical in the past, and you weren’t alone, about the sport versus entertainment. I think it’s inevitable when you try to take a sport which is fundamentally a private sport for almost all of its history and make it interesting for people to watch, a lot of people will criticize you that you turn it into an entertainment thing. Take for example the incident between Ben Ainslie and the camera boat. There are other issues but, ultimately, there is a whole set of people that think sailing is for sharing. That’s fair enough if you’re in a world where you don’t need external people to pay. If you are in a world or part of this sport where it’s about committing people that are NOT sailors, primarily, to put money into it, be it a city or a sponsor, you HAVE to entertain.
There isn’t a single sport out there that can survive in a commercial space if you don’t entertain the public, the media, the VIPs or whatever. There is nothing to discuss about. What is something to discuss is whether the sport of sailing needs or has to have an element which is commercially funded. It is a very unique sport with a lot of private individuals that have their own boat, their own crew that go and race in a yacht club. That’s a fantastic part of the sport and it’s quite unique. My interest is being in a commercial space. The part that is confusing in sailing is that you have to be in the middle, the America’s Cup being the most obvious example of it. There have been a few others, probably the Medcup, that have been able to do this. You have a combination of private owners and commercial funding and that attracts sponsorship and then you sit in the middle. That’s confusing when you try to explain the sport but we do have those two very different poles. They both are very, very important and very, very interesting and make this sport a very fascinating place. From the outside though, when you get to sponsors you have to explain these two very different worlds. There are 300-500 boats in the Fastnet race where you have some professional sailors doing it with sponsors and a lot of people that simply love sailing and enjoy doing it. They both are important but for me the commercial space has been interesting and I have been trying to make it work. You know, our business is involved in half a dozen different sports, completely different in the way they are structured. This has allowed us to see how much we have to go in sailing if we want ot be sitting alongside them.
VSail.info: Is there in these sports this “philosophical” discussion whether they need a commercial part? From what I’ve seen the sports you are involved with are second-tier, in the sense of not being as popular as football or basketball. Is there this kind of this soul-searching as well?
Mark Turner: Let me give you an example of sport that you could very well put in second or third tier, archery. It has thousands of passionate amateurs all over the world and some guys at the top with Olympic or world champion aspirations that have created a whole entertainment version of it, professional in every sense, taking place in city centers. You have two guys, two lanes, right in a city center with a stadium around it, televised, everything! They managed to create these two separate areas of it and they sit very happily together. At the end of the day, whatever anyone might say or write, amateurs get into a sport because they were inspired by seeing something, reading something, seeing a flash about the Volvo Ocean Race on TV or whatever it might be.
The professional end has some value to most people and every sport has these two things. There are two things that are completely different in professional sailing and make it more complex. Firstly, unlike, for example, archery where you need a bow and an arrow, boats cost a lot of money. That’s why sailing has this private-owner funding side of things and this is where sailing grew from. This is often at odds with the commercial side. A person sailing in the yacht club doesn’t necessarily want to worry about entertaining or showing off. That’s fair enough and that’s relatively unique in sailing.
The other thing about sailing, unlike most of the other sports, is that the Olympics is not the only summit, the only top of the pile.
VSail.info: Do you mean there is no “America’s Cup” in archery or canoeing?
Mark Turner: From a sports point of view there is nothing over the Olympics. There are commercial products that have been created but VERY clearly the top of the pile is the Olympics and the Federation manages the whole sport, in its entirety. In sailing, the Olympics is clearly a summit but it’s not the only summit! In many sports, athletes finish their career in the Olympics but in sailing it’s the beginning of their career in the wider sport of sailing. People come out of the Olympics, actively looking at how they can make a step into all the other summits, be it here, the America’s Cup, the Volvo Ocean Race, the Vendée globe or any other major event. That’s why the sport of sailing is so confusing. In most other sports you have the Olympics and the World Championships and the Federation manages all of that. You might have some exceptions, such as cycling where the Tour de France is more important than the Olympics but you have the Federation managing it.
In sailing the Federation exists just because of the funding from the Olympics and therefore its mission is to do the Olympics. The rest of it is the Wild West! It doesn’t have that structure, which also allows great things to be developed. It allows entrepreneurship and new things that you can’t see, for example, in cycling. That sport is very controlled by the UCI and it’s very hard to come in and create something new, unless you are part of the clan, did the Tour de France 30 years ago and know the right people. Otherwise it’s very, very hard and it’s a closed world. Sailing has this amazing thing where if you have a great idea and you can find someone to back you, you can create something new. There is both sides to that equation but, ultimately, when you look at sailing from the outside it’s much harder to follow and understand because you have all those different summits and the Federation is not on the top of it.
I think that in the last few years the reality is that the commercial events have separated themselves more and more from the rest of things. You still have the Syndey-Hobart or the Fastnet race that pops us and is suddenly there, in the country where the event happens but the rest has got more and more separation, whether it’s the America’s Cup, the Volvo Ocean Race, the World Match Racing Tour, this. They have become more visible and the rest has been separated from a visibility perspective. Still, it’s confusing to someone from the outside and you have to explain.
VSail.info: Now that you mention the commercial part I’d like to be the devil’s advocate. You take pride in stating that your circuit is fully commercially funded. However, wasn’t it bailed out, or at least helped, when Ernesto Bertarelli bought a stake in it and became a shareholder a couple of years ago?
Mark Turner: We need investors like everybody else. Where do you go in sailing to find them?
VSail.info: Sure, but then again we are talking about a very rich private individual. Bertarelli is certainly passionate about sailing but he’s not a company.
Mark Turner: It’s quite important to distinguish between an America’s Cup kind of scenario where there are rich persons willing to do whatever it takes, whether it’s on the event or the teams, and an investor who is passionate about sailing but has a very fixed deal since the beginning and I have to make it work and put a long on the line to get that investment. Where do you look for investors in sailing? I think you will always find them more easily among the people that are already passionate about the sport. I don’t see a contradiction and I would absolutely feel uncomfortable some times in saying what I’ve said that it’s a commercially based thing because it’s easy to be attacked on that. However, the reality behind it is very different, if the details were made public, people would see that is quite a long way from having a very rich person helping you out or bailing you out. It’s an investment. I have a tough board that governs what we do, he took some risks like all investors do and I have to make it work. It’s just quite a long way from just being bailed out. To be honest, I had big choices in 2011, I had the America’s Cup thing, I was flattered by the choices I had.
VSail.info: Do you mean personally?
Mark Turner: Yes, personally, but they are intertwined. I’ve been running my business for a long time so things were very interconnected in terms of what I chose to do personally and where the business was going. I have never hidden the fact I talked extensively with Russell Coutts and his team about the job Iain Murray has today. I was really interested but when I see the jobs Iain Murray and Richard Worth have, ultimately, it’s Richard’s job I would have been more interested in. I now think it was the right decision for the cup that I didn’t take Iain’s job and it was the right decision for me. I think these two guys are very complimentary and it’s a good setup. I’m not an operations man, although I think I can be but my passion is actually more about this overarching thing, mixing the commercial part with the media part and the sporting part. I think I would have struggled with the separation of the roles they have in the America’s Cup.
It would have been very interesting though to be able, for once, to go and do something, I wouldn’t say with an unlimited budget, but with a level of resources that I will never have, quite frankly, in a purely short-term commercial play. I will never have that amount of resources and it’s always frustrating doing things with not enough funding and I would haven’t been worrying about raising any money, for once.
VSail.info: Do you think they are doing a good work with that level of resources, the nearly unlimited budget? It seems the copied quite a few things you have been doing here.
Mark Turner: I think it’s good for the sport and I’m flattered about that. We certainly led on a few things, took some of early risks and showed they could work. It’s good for the sport they picked up on some of these things and they do some more things, like on TV, that nobody will ever be able to do. Nobody can invest more than they are investing in TV and the sport is lucky, in some ways, to have something like the Cup that can. The difficult part is trickle down what they are doing, actually make use of all that. We are is such different places budget-wise, we run a global event with just 2-3% of the budget the America’s Cup has. That’s a difficult challenge.
There is good stuff though coming from the Cup. They are testing and trying things we could all learn from. They took on what was a huge challenge. They set the expectations very high, probably a mistake if you look at it in hindsight, which is very easy to do from the outside because of the timing, the economic circumstances and the big changes in the format. However, I believe in what they are doing, I believe it’s the right route and that’s why I considered that job. It’s easy to make mistakes when you have a lot of money, you even make more mistakes. They are learning from them along the way, like reducing TV coverage from ten days to five. You don’t need to do ten days of TV at the beginning.
They are learning as they are going along and they will have a difficult period ahead of them trying to nail down venue deals. Venue deals are extremely difficult to do and it normally takes a cycle of a couple of years, talking to city, putting it in place, doing the first event and then a second one if all goes well. For them to try to put in the ACWS circuit in the speed they were trying to do with an organization that was brand new was a massive challenge. I have lots of sympathy for them and I think the criticism they receive sometimes is valid. That’s fair enough, you are the guys that took the power, you’re going to get shot at.
I think the Cup has done some great stuff but they were a little bit too ambitious. The ACWS was a good concept to put in place but maybe they tried to do it a little bit too quickly, at least quicker than the market was ready for, a bit too far ahead of the Cup perhaps, the actual Cup itself. I think there is a risk to that, it effectively dumbs down the brand a bit which is a difficult thing. The Cup has always been about the biggest boats and I know from recent discussions in Singapore or Plymouth people thought it was the Cup itself while it isn’t. It’s a cool event that is being very well delivered in a very high level, as it should be, but it isn’t the America’s Cup. I think it is now in danger of diluting the America’s Cup itself.
Overall I think they have done a good job, the boat is very good, done very quickly, it’s a nice boat and it’s probably the only real impact on us, long term. The Extreme 40 has done a very good job for us, we don’t really want to change it but, probably, like all things, classes have a life cycle and the existence of the AC45, although we will not do the same boat for this circuit, brings forward a year or two what we want to evolve the class into. There is no fixed plan on that, no resource to do it right now but the change is brought forward by a couple of years. We used to be the coolest boat and we no longer are the coolest boat. That doesn’t make ANY difference whatsoever for 99% of the people that watch and most people that come to these events will not be able to tell you the differences between the two boats.
It’s important for the sailors to be excited to come and there is plenty of good sailors that want to come and do this but at some point, it’s not the case today, you know that it won’t be OK. The AC45 is a nice boat to sail, which is normal as technology evolves and costs twice as much, and has changed the psychology a little bit. You have to evolve and we will go out of the Extreme 40 into a new boat, a year or two earlier than what we might have done but there is no immediate plan. It will certainly not be in 2013, probably not in 2014. We will not do a wing though because of the costs that come with it. In cost terms it’s only 50% more than budget of one event in the ACWS. So, by adding 50% you do a full year with this. I’m proud of that and it’s an important thing for us. If 5,000 euros is the cost then it’s an issue for us. We are working at that level, we are not working at the level where we can say “OK, it’s 100,000 euros more because we extended the sail or did something different”.
Posted on 31 January 2012 by Valencia Sailing
[Source: America's Cup] The Artemis Racing sailing team begins its 2012 training program this week in Valencia, Spain, with a two-boat training session on the team’s two AC45s. For skipper Terry Hutchinson, this is a chance to begin ‘chipping away’ at what he calls a ‘laundry list of things we have to work on to get better’.
“I think that having the two AC45s will make a big difference to our training,” Hutchinson says. “I think what we’re after is consistency. In the America’s Cup World Series Cascais as well as in Plymouth and San Diego we showed moments in all three regattas of really good sailing and then we showed some less good moments, so it’s a matter of improving our consistency.
“I really think by spending time on the AC45s, both in training and in developing our equipment… It’s just a case where we need to put in the hours and practise the same way we race, focusing on small improvements.”
Thinking ahead to launching the team’s first AC72 later this summer, Hutchinson says he’s looking at the giant catamaran with equal parts awe and respect, with a little bit of trepidation mixed in as well.
“This boat will be something that will bite you very, very hard the moment you don’t respect it,” he said. “The good side is that we all respect what we’re getting ready to take on. You have to apply a lot of common sense and logic and not be afraid to leave your ego on the dock. We’re really luck to have Rodney (Ardern – pitman) and Curtis (Blewett – bowman) bringing along the experiences they had with Alinghi in 2010.”
Hutchinson also says sailing the ORMA trimaran last year was useful for the sailing team to get accustomed to flying along at speeds near 30 knots. But he adds that neither the 60 foot trimaran, nor the AC45 is directly comparable to the AC72 the team currently has under construction in Sweden.
The trimaran has a completely different stability profile compared to the catamaran he says and the AC45 is “dramatically smaller and underpowered when you compare it to the AC72.”
Like many of his brethren in the Cup world, the experienced Hutchinson is clearly on a steeper learning curve and often sailing out of his comfort zone these days, something the winter training sessions in Valencia should help alleviate. And while he’s looking forward to getting back on the America’s Cup World Series circuit this summer, he’s also excited about spending more time in San Francisco in 2013, where the Bay holds some good memories of success.
“I love San Francisco,” he says. “I won a Farr 40 world championship there, I won a J24 world championship there and a J24 North American championship as well. It’s going to be great sailing on the Bay again.”