Tag Archive | "Russell Coutts"

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Bermuda and San Diego shortlisted as America’s Cup venues

Posted on 08 July 2014 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: America's Cup] The island of Bermuda and the city of San Diego have been shortlisted as potential host cities for the 35th America’s Cup.

Chicago, which had also been under consideration, is now a likely venue for America’s Cup World Series racing in 2015 and 2016.

“Both Bermuda and San Diego have made very compelling cases to be the host for the next America’s Cup,” said Russell Coutts, Director of the America’s Cup Event Authority (ACEA). “We will be in good hands with either venue.”

Bermuda is 640 miles (1,030 km) east-southeast of North Carolina. It is known to sailors for the Newport to Bermuda race, as well as the Bermuda Gold Cup match-racing event, both of which have a long history of success on the island and a sterling reputation among sailors. America’s Cup racing in Bermuda would take place close to shore, within the Great Sound.

San Diego is one of only seven cities to have hosted the America’s Cup. When the Cup was previously held there in 1988, 1992 and 1995, the race course was far offshore, on the ocean waters beyond Point Loma. But if San Diego were selected as the venue this time, racing would take place in San Diego Bay, offering incredible viewing opportunities for spectators along the city’s waterfront.

To advance the venue selection process over the coming months, the America’s Cup Event Authority will work closely with both venues to finalize logistics requirements and commercial opportunities, as well as to establish the needed relationships with private and public entities to ensure a successful event.

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It is through this process that the final host city for the next America’s Cup will emerge.

“We are now able to focus on two venues that are motivated and enthusiastic at the prospect of hosting the next America’s Cup,” Coutts concluded. “I’m confident that we’re on target to finish with a venue that allows us to achieve our goal of hosting an exciting and successful America’s Cup built on a strong commercial foundation.”

The host city for the next America’s Cup will be announced by ACEA before the end of this year.

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America’s Cup Protocol: What Oracle was criticizing and what it is implementing

Posted on 18 June 2014 by Valencia Sailing

Is it an irony that some of the most controversial aspects of the failed Protocol Alinghi and Ernesto Bertarelli tried to implement with the help of their sinister bedfellows of the Spanish Sailing Federation are now part of the America’s Cup Protocol? Is it a coincidence that Larry Ellison and Russell Coutts that so vehemently criticized Alinghi are taking a leaf or so out of their book?

We don’t think so because this is, after all, the America’s Cup. The Defender has one and only goal, to retain sailing’s most coveted trophy and will use all means within its power to do so. That also includes using the same tricks others tried to use to stack the cards in their favor, despite having criticized them so strongly for doing so. As long as there is a Challenger of Record that signs off the rules and a number of willing billionaires to play the game, the rest is superfluous.

Now that the 35th America’s Cup Protocol is a few weeks old, we thought it would be interesting to take a trip down memory lane and reproduce some of the statements that were made during the acrimonious litigation between Alinghi and Oracle that lasted nearly 950 days! This is by no means a justification of the shenanigans Alinghi and the Spanish Sailing Federation used through a sham yacht club to create a Protocol that had some irrefutably unacceptable clauses that gave unprecedented powers to America’s Cup Management (ACM), the organizers hired by Alinghi. ACM could at its sole discretion and for any reason they deemed fit, disqualify any of the competing teams. Let alone the fact that Pombo and Chirivella, respectively President and Vice-President, tried to masquerade a weekend Optimist training camp as the CNEV’s “annual regatta” or later staged a farcical Sailing Tour of Spain, in their second attempt to satisfy the requirements set by the Deed of Gift.

However, it does put things into perspective and shows that the America’s Cup is more than a simple sailing race. Excellent PR skills are as important as good design and sailing skills. It probably shows that Ellison didn’t really fight for the “rights” of the Challengers. Why on earth would anyone fight for their right of his competitors? Ellison and his team fought to win the 33rd America’s Cup and win they did.

The photos from the 33rd and 34th America’s Cups are courtesy of Juerg Kaufmann and Daniel Forster, through their Go4image website. Click here to access what is probably the richest online America’s Cup photo gallery, dating back to 1977!

The Defender racing in the Challenger Selection Series

The most radical change in this edition of the world’s oldest sports trophy is, undoubtedly, the participation of the Defender in the Challenger Selection Series. It is something Ernesto Bertarelli tried to introduce in the doomed Protocol of the 33rd America’s Cup and met with fierce criticism and resistance from both BMW Oracle and Mascalzone Latino, then its staunchest ally and future Challenger of Record.

Not only is it a departure from tradition, it also gives the Defender an undeniable advantage as they are able to gauge the challengers and race against the yachts that will, eventually, be raced in the actual America’s Cup Match. Whether it’s fair or not, isn’t something we will judge here, however it was a point that, repeatedly, Oracle pointed out as unfair.

The Challenger Selection Series will not even exist as such in 2017, at least up to the semifinals, but instead a certainly American-inspired terminology is being used. In 2015 and 2016, all teams will take part in the America’s Cup World Series, similarly to the previous edition. Racing will be held, again, in AC45′s but the overall score will do count towards the later stages as the top finishers carry points into the 2017 races. The idea is again for this circuit to travel around the world.

A new concept is introduced this time, the America’s Cup “Qualifiers” which in reality are nothing more than the usual Louis Vuitton Cup Round Robin, with the obvious exception that Oracle Team USA will take part. No quarter finals are scheduled in 2017 and the top four challengers will then race in the America’s Cup “Playoffs” which until a few weeks ago were commonly known as the Louis Vuitton Cup semifinals and finals. All racing in 2017 will take place with the brand new AC62′s, so not only will the Defender take part up to the Challenger Selection semifinals they will be able to race against the one and only AC62 the challengers will have!

The trimaran that gave Larry Ellison the America’s Cup. Valencia, 10 February 2010. Photo copyright Kaufmann & Forster / go4image.com

Here are just a few of the numerous statements Larry Ellison and the Oracle team published in 2007 and 2008, criticizing that same concept:

Larry Ellison in a letter to Ernesto Bertarelli, dated 17 November 2008, wrote: “You will say that, with only one boat per team, the Defender must be able to sail in the Challenger Selection Series. Fundamentally, we do not agree with this as there is a risk that the impact and suspense of the America’s Cup Match will be diluted. To have the Defender race in the Challenger Selection Series is a radical departure from the Cup’s long history and tradition and we need to be careful about making such changes.”

BMW Oracle press release, 16 September 2008: “Under Alinghi’s AC 33 protocol, the format and the schedule of all challenger racing is dictated by the defender for the first time in the history of the event. For the challengers in AC 33 it is therefore not “their” series any more as it was in all previous America’s Cups… However under the new protocol the defender’s ability to sail in the challengers’ series gives it very considerable new advantages. As they are already guaranteed a place in the America’s Cup, the defender can eliminate a team or influence the outcome of the series at no risk to themselves.

Before that, in October 2007, we had interviewed Alessandra Pandarese, legal counselor of Mascalzone Latino, and touched the issue of the alternative Protocol her team and BMW Oracle had prepared. Here’s our question and her answer:
Valencia Sailing: I also suppose that in your protocol the defender doesn’t have the right to take part in the Challenger Selection Series (CSS).
Alessandra Pandarese: That’s correct. Alinghi’s participation in the CSS is something we don’t accept.

It is true though that in the initial Protocol published by Alinghi, the Defender was to race up to the Challenger Selection finals, however we can’t understand why the “suspense” of the America’s Cup was in danger in 2007 and it won’t be from 2015 to 2017…

Who will take the America’s Cup from Larry Ellison? San Francisco, 25 September 2013. Photo copyright Daniel Forster / go4image.com

Date and Venue of the 35th America’s Cup

When Alinghi first issued their 33rd America’s Cup Protocol the date and venue, in addition to the boat rule, were not known. It was speculated that Valencia would again be the venue, probably in 2009, but that wasn’t reflected in the Protocol.

When the Golden Gate Yacht Club presented their surprise challenge, on July 11th, 2007, they stated that, “Furthermore, the race Protocol for the 33rd America’s Cup agreed to by the challenging yacht club CNEV and the defending SNG are invalid because they fail to specify the rules for the next competition by omitting a specific regatta date, location and class of boat. Without the basic elements of regatta venue, date and boat design rules as required by the Deed of Gift, the Alinghi Protocol provides no opportunity for a fair and equitable competition…”

Once again, the venue and date of the next America’s Cup still haven’t been decided but that doesn’t seem to be a problem. Not only that, for the first time ever, the “Qualifiers” (the CSS round robin) and the “Playoffs” (the CSS semis and finals) could, eventually, be held in different locations and just the top four challengers will got to the Playoffs.

The venue and dates of the Playoffs and the America’s Cup Match will be made public by the end of 2014 while for the Qualifiers, the Defender will have another month and a half, until February 15th, 2015, before it announces the date and venue.

Here’s another quote from the letter Larry Ellison had sent Ernesto Bertarelli on 17 November 2008: “As to the date of the next conventional Cup, this also should be agreed among all the teams, Challengers and Defender, by mutual consent. We would propose 2010 to get things back on track even sooner than the 2011 date we have seen floated in recent media reports by your side – unless 2010 is too soon now to allow teams, especially new or smaller teams, to get up to speed. Regardless, this can be decided by getting the teams together around one table as soon as possible.”

As per the 35th America’s Cup Protocol the venues and dates are at the sole discretion of the newly-created “Commercial Commissioner”, who is appointed and, eventually, replaced at the discretion of ACEA, which in turn is appointed solely by Golden Gate Yacht Club.

In a statement on November 13th, 2008, Tom Ehman, spokesperson of Golden Gate Yacht Club had stated that “for the first time ever, the Challenger Selection Series is under the complete control of the defender.” Doesn’t the same hold true this time? For the first time since the existence of multiple challengers, just the top four challengers will actually get to race in the America’s Cup venue! Isn’t that lopsided?

Why did Larry Ellison want to grant challengers such extensive rights in 2008 and denies them in 2014? Because he’s now running the America’s Cup, not challenging for it, and that’s what sets the America’s Cup apart from other events.

The venue and dates of the 2017 America’s Cup are foggy. San Francisco, 25 September 2013. Photo copyright Daniel Forster / go4image.com

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America’s Cup finals to be held in Chicago?

Posted on 11 March 2014 by Valencia Sailing

The San Francisco Chronicle and the Associated Press have published in the last two days reports, indicating Larry Ellison’s ambition to hold the 35th America’s Cup finals in the state of Hawaii.

In the San Francisco Chronicle article published yesterday with the title “Larry Ellison eyeing Honolulu for ’17 America’s Cup”, author Julie Guthrie states that the current edition of the world’s oldest sports trophy will “likely” take place in Honolulu.

We will skip the analysis of the details on the format Larry Ellison would like to see from 2015 to 2017. Some elements, in our opinion, are closer to science fiction than reality but we will scrutinize that at some later stage.

According to the same article, Ellison states that Russell Coutts remains “actively – and earnestly – in talks with other venues, from San Francisco and San Diego to Newport.”

Guthrie’s article was then picked up by Associated Press’ Bernie Willson who also added Chicago in the mix of cities that might be involved with the America’s Cup. According to Willson, a veteran America’s Cup reporter, the Windy City “might be considered for a warmup regatta called the America’s Cup World Series rather than the America’s Cup match.”

However, according to our information, coming from very reliable sources, Chicago could have a much more important role in the event, as it is, currently, the most likely venue!

One would never associate a city in the middle of the United States with the pinnacle event of the sport of sailing but Chicago has all it takes to be an excellent venue. There is no ocean but there is Lake Michigan! It’s a major international metropolis, it’s closer to Europe than San Francisco, both in distance as well as time zone, and it is a perfect venue for stadium sailing with a geography very similar to San Francisco. It will undoubtedly provide the backdrop for stunning photos and TV footage.

Although it is still early and the final decision on the America’s Cup venue will not be made public before the end of summer, we wouldn’t bet against Chicago, at all… The next few months will certainly be interesting.

Will the America’s Cup choose Chicago as well? It seems so! Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / www.vsail.info

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America’s Cup Protocol and Class Rule expected in March

Posted on 11 February 2014 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: America's Cup] The new version of the America’s Cup Class Rule, which will produce a foiling, wingsailed catamaran in the 60-65 foot range, is on schedule to be released next month.

Several potential America’s Cup teams are cooperating in the rule writing process with the design firm Morrelli & Melvin.

The Protocol for the 35th America’s Cup, which defines rules specific to this event, is also on track for a March release.

“We’re working with the Challenger of Record from Hamilton Island Yacht Club to have a Protocol ready to issue in March,” said Russell Coutts, CEO of ORACLE TEAM USA.

According to Russell Coutts, both the Class Rule and the Protocol of the 35th America’s Cup will be published next month. Photo copyright Guilain Grenier / Oracel Team USA

“An overriding theme of both documents is an effort to reduce costs and increase media exposure, so that teams can provide a better return to their sponsors for significantly less money than was required last time.”

The selection of the venue for the 35th America’s Cup is likely to stretch into summer. Several venues are under consideration.

“We need to take the time to assess each potential venue and ensure we get the best possible outcome for the America’s Cup, the teams and the event commercial partners.” Coutts said.

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Russell Coutts puts pressure on San Francisco with statement America’s Cup could go to Hawaii

Posted on 27 January 2014 by Valencia Sailing

Should we consider Saturday’s article on the Associated Press website, widely reproduced throughout the world, as an indication negotiations between the City of San Francisco and Oracle Team USA have reached a point that the America’s Cup holders don’t find beneficial enough? Do they need an extra push through a well-timed article by putting pressure on the city?

Oracle Team USA received Mayor Ed Lee’s preliminary proposal for hosting the next America’s Cup on December 22nd and since then, apparently, the two parties have been in negotiations in order to iron out a deal that would allow the world’s oldest sports trophy to be held again in San Francisco. Russell Coutts, two weeks before that date, stated that San Francisco was the “clear frontrunner” among the prospective bidders to host the event.

Although there has never been any official statement, it was believed that Hawaii was also in the mix, given the fact Larry Ellison bought Lanai island in 2012. Since Ellison owns the trophy why couldn’t he also own the venue? Up until Saturday there weren’t any other indications, or at least we weren’t aware of them, that other possible venues were under consideration. According to Bernie Wilson’s article, San Diego surfaced as a serious alternative as well, and the America’s Cup could be back there in 2017, following a 22-year absence.

Russell Coutts mentions another “non-US port” that is considered as a potential venue, without naming it.

If one is to believe Russell Coutts, this photo will not be repeated in the future. San Francisco, 26 June 2013. Photo copyright Gilles Martin-Raget / America’s Cup

Does that sound familiar? Well, it does because it is exactly the same strategy used by, then, BMW Oracle Racing in 2010 during their negotiations with San Francisco. The deadline set back then was December 31st, 2010 and even ten days before that, Stephen Barclay, COO of BMW Oracle Racing, had sent Rhode Island officials a letter indicating his team was “very serious” in its intent to move forward with that state in order to hold the 34th America’s Cup in Newport.

A few weeks earlier, Russell Coutts was claiming that “strong expressions of interest from four European countries are also being studied by the American Defender. GGYC/BOR will announce a final decision on the venue, along with the date and other details of the next America’s Cup by the end of this year.” There were reports of Valencia being considered as a venue, even if the city had denied it had any intention to bid, given its dire financial situation. Although not officially mentioned in a press release or statement, BMW Oracle was insinuating there was a mysterious Italian city that was offering €500 million for the right to host the America’s Cup in 2013 (yeah, sure…).

As it turned out, these “statements” were well-orchestrated, meant to put pressure on San Francisco officials. Of course, in all negotiations both parties must hold an alternative option in case everything goes awry but it’s difficult to believe, Coutts is seriously considering the option of holding the next Cup in the middle of nowhere or a mysterious “non-US” port, somewhere on this planet.

San Francisco proved to be a great venue despite the fact initial expectations were light years away from reality. It is understandable city officials could be less than enthusiastic about a deal with Oracle Team as the promises made three years ago about the event were in the realm of science fiction. No less than 12 challengers and three defense candidates were expected while Mayor Lee was claiming that he was anticipating 500,000 spectators A DAY during peak days (!!!). In reality, there were three quarters of a million spectators throughout the duration of the entire event!

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Russell Coutts’ plans for the Challenger Selection Series

Posted on 18 December 2013 by Valencia Sailing

Although no official announcement has been made yet in what regards the future of the world’s oldest sports trophy, Russell Coutts recently talked to the Yachting World magazine and outlined the preliminary plans he has been working on for the 35th edition of the America’s Cup.

The CEO of Oracle Team USA didn’t reveal anything in that interview that we hadn’t already mentioned in the recent past. In what regards the time frame for holding the next edition, it seems that Coutts is in favor of the summer of 2017, in San Francisco, if of course the negotiations with the city come to a fruitful conclusion. That doesn’t come much as a surprise, as the years 2015 and 2016 are deemed to be unsuitable. It would be too early for 2015 while 2016 is an Olympic year.

As far as the boat is concerned it appears Coutts wants to ditch the AC72′s and opt for a smaller 60-foot foiling catamaran with a crew of 7 of 8 and a number of one-design elements. Again, this is an aspect that has already been covered recently but Coutts makes it more official with this interview. Coutts argues that a smaller boat with less crew and less liberty for designers will bring costs down. Nevertheless, changing the boat once again will throw away the progress made during the last three years and will force the teams and the event to face the same potential problems and pitfalls they faced in the past. Everybody will have to go through the same steep learning curve, with huge differences between the yachts that would again result in unattractive races where one boat crosses the finish line five minutes ahead of the other. Not only that, right now there are at least a couple of AC72′s that could be readily available for any current or potential future team.

Coutts’ plan that seems to raise concerns among the potential challengers has to do with the racing format for the selection of the Challenger that will face Oracle Team in three years. Just like the previous edition, a worldwide circuit is envisioned but unlike last time it will count, and heavily, towards the final challenger selection. According to well-informed French sources, Coutts would like the preliminary circuit to serve as an initial cutoff from which just the top four will make it to the actual Red Bull Cup, or whatever the Challenger Selection Series (CSS) might be called, at the America’s Cup venue.

In this America’s Cup edition as well, Russell Coutts has the helm of the event. Photo copyright Gilles Martin-Raget / America’s Cup

As a result, the challengers will be racing in modified, foiling AC45′s from 2015 until early 2016 and then the top four will have one year to design and build their actual, new, America’s Cup boat. In order to also make it cheaper for the organization, Coutts states in the Yachting World interview that he would like each challenger to hold a preliminary race in its home country and bear the entire organizational costs. If that plan fails to succeed then Coutts could present an alternative in which two “regional” championships are held. The first one would be in Europe where the potential challengers from Europe and the Middle East would compete for two CSS berths, while the second one could take place somewhere in Australasia and will see the Australasian challengers square off for the remaining two CSS spots. The costs of each “regional” championship could then be shared among the corresponding teams.

The idea that only four of the participating teams would advance to the CSS is ludicrous, at best. Even if the AC72′s turned out to be extremely complex and expensive, each challenger that took part in the previous Cup knew at the time of its inscription that if the necessary funding was in place early on, they had their spot in the Louis Vuitton Cup guaranteed, regardless of their result in the ACWS. Now, if Coutts’ plan goes ahead and there are more than four challengers, teams will know for sure that they will be in the America’s Cup venue just 18 months before the event takes place! Unless they are backed by a billionaire they will have absolutely no chance whatsoever in getting any sponsorship at all!

Can anyone imagine what big multinational group would ever fund Ben Ainslie or Franck Cammas for the 35th America’s Cup if they have no certainty as to whether the team will exist beyond 2016? Even if they are two of the world’s best and most accomplished sailors will any marketing manager sign a sponsorship deal with them with such an unknown hanging over them? Guess what chances a newcomer will have! None.

Despite his repeated claims to the contrary, it seems that once again Russell Coutts is trying to build as big an advantage for the Defender as possible… That’s what the America’s Cup is all about after all…

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2014 RC44 Championship Tour announced

Posted on 11 December 2013 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: RC44 Class Association] Venues for the eighth season of the RC44 Championship Tour have been confirmed. Two new venues will make their debut, alongside three RC44 favorites. The season will start in the Caribbean next February, where the class will be welcomed for the first time by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda in Virgin Gorda.

The fleet will then travel across the Atlantic to Europe where they will compete at three European events in Cascais, Portugal; Marstrand, Sweden; and for the first time Sotogrande, Spain before crossing the 4000nm to Muscat, Oman for the final event of the season.

2014 RC44 Tour Schedule:

12 – 16 February – Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands
23 – 27 April – Cascais, Portugal
25 – 29 June – Sotogrande, Spain
13 – 17 August – Marstrand, Sweden
19 – 23 November – Muscat, Oman

Making its debut, the 2014 RC44 Championship Tour will kick off in Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands. One of the world’s premier sailing destinations, the British Virgin Islands (BVI) comprises of an archipelago of more than 25 islands set amid the turquoise waters of the central Caribbean Sea. Hosted by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (YCCS), the teams can expect a regular 15-20 knots of breeze in crystal clear waters. Although there will still be one day of match racing followed by four days of fleet racing, the format will be adapted to include a long distance race around the island.

April will see the fleet return to Europe as the Clube Naval de Cascais host the second event of the Tour in the picturesque bay of Cascais, Portugal for the third year.

Also making its debut on the 2014 Tour is the Andalusia town of Sotogrande; stretching along southern Spain’s Mediterranean coastline between Gibraltar and Marbella. This beautiful location will provide the teams with the dependable westerly Poniente, the strongest easterly Levante or the southerly Sirocco wind, originating in the Sahara.

August will be the fourth year the RC44 Class has returned to the heart of Swedish sailing, Marstrand, with the event doubling as the classes World Championships. The fleet will then make their winter migration to the Arabian port of Muscat, Oman for the final event of the season.

The 2014 RC44 Championship promises to be another exceptional year and RC44 Class founder Russell Coutts will be keeping a close eye on it ”I’m looking forward to getting back on the Tour next year. We have some great venues lined up and the competition within the fleet is phenomenal, the Class is growing stronger every year.”

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Iain Percy talks to VSail.info about Artemis Racing, the RC44′s and, of course, the America’s Cup

Posted on 20 November 2013 by Valencia Sailing

The three-time British Olympic medalist is in Puerto Calero, calling tactics for Torbjörn Törnqvist oboard Artemis Racing at the RC44 World Championship. We caught up with him and talked about his new role as Team Manager and the present and future of the team and the America’s Cup.

VSail.info: Let’s start with a personal question. How does it feel to go from flying AC72′s that were doing 50 knots to sailing the RC44′s that do 15?
Iain Percy: It’s a very different boat! You get very used to the speed and certainly it does feel quite slow. It’s funny because when you go from a slow monohull to a catamaran for the first time, they feel very similar in terms of the challenges. When you go back the other way it feels very different, it never feels fast. The AC72′s are incredibly fun boats to sail, they are truly awesome bits of kit. They, obviously, have to be treated with huge respect, something that, as a team, we probably know more than anyone but they are incredible bits of engineering and design and produce the fastest boat upwind and downwind that has ever been by any margin.

VSail.info: As a tactician, what is trickier for you? An AC72 or an RC44?
Iain Percy: It’s funny, I had thought and people would have thought that your decision-making must be much faster on a bigger boat but the truth of it is that on any big boat, be it an AC72 or an RC44, you can’t do a maneuver 10 seconds after the last maneuver. You always have to wait for 30 seconds, so you still have the same amount of time to make those decisions that you do. In some ways, in the Star class or the RC44′s where there are 14 boats, you have to make quicker decisions because suddenly a boat below you will tack and you will instantaneously have to decide what your response is. In some ways, in the older Version 5 boats or the AC72′s, you have that time. You made your maneuver and you have another 30 seconds before you do another straight away. The difference on the AC72′s is that in those 30 seconds you traveled a lot of distance.

Iain Percy took the helm of the Artemis Racing RC44 for the first time last month. Cascais, 2 October 2013. Photo copyright Nico Martinez / RC44 Class Association

VSail.info: What is the next small boat you will sail now? The Moth?
Iain Percy: I wanted to sail a Moth and I asked my friend Adam May who works for Artemis Racing. He said I wasn’t allowed to sail it because I was too fat and I was going to break it. We are trying to find a solution to that with a different boat. We will do a lot of foiling in-house and that’s, obviously, the future of the America’s Cup. You see it everywhere, it is becoming the future of sailing as well. It is a real step change, it’s a cool feeling and it’s incredibly efficient.

However, the focus now for myself and Artemis Racing is to build a strong team, capable of winning and dominating the America’s Cup arena. That’s our goal, that’s Torbjörn’s goal. Artemis went through some very tough times last year and some real highs when we managed to race against all the odds. It’s time now to show we are a winning team, a serious, professional team that is going to win the next America’s Cup. That’s the team we are building right now, quietly, as we tend to do, not always to the pleasure of everyone else, including the press, but we get on with our business quietly, respectfully to all our competitors. This is the way Torbjörn likes it, the way he is as a man. We are very professional and with a real will to win.

VSail.info: I’d like to step back to the previous America’s Cup. Artemis Racing was one of the teams that started very early, as early as the fall of 2010, had ample resources and became the Challenger of Record. However, it suffered from a series of very serious setbacks that culminated with the unfortunate and tragic accident last May. In hindsight, looking back, what were the errors the team committed? What lessons did you draw so that you avoid repeating them in this America’s Cup?
Iain Percy: Huge lessons! To be fair, I think that all teams that did this new challenge for the first time learnt a lot and you learn from doing things badly. Like everyone else we learnt through both, through making mistakes. I wasn’t very involved until after the 2012 Olympics but I must say that in the final 6-8 months, because of guys like Bart, Nathan or Iain Jensen, the feeling in the camp was absolutely incredible. I have, personally, never worked in such a politics-free team, such a hard-working, driven team. Where we were for most of the time I experienced, there was very little wrong. We are now going to be one team, in one venue, concentrating on winning the America’s Cup. This is probably our central message.

VSail.info: In what regards the 34th America’s Cup as an event how would you assess it? What do you think were its strong points and where do you think it could be improved? Do you have any criticism regarding the organization, the format or what you personally think should be done?
Iain Percy: One thing I never doubted was that Larry’s and Russell’s vision, what they truly believed, was going to be the best for our sport and the best for the America’s Cup. I always supported that, I never was one of those cynics and, in the end, I think that the final product proved to be a step transformation for our sport. Finally, it was very appealing to the non-sailing public as well as the sailing public. Like we all learnt from our good and bad things, I’m sure the event will too. I think it’s clear that both on the safety side and the cost side, it would be good to increase safety and reduce costs, so that we have more teams.

VSail.info: This means you personally think there should be more teams. Isn’t the America’s Cup after all meant to be just for the Torbjörn Törnqvists and Larry Ellisons of the world?
Iain Percy: I think the America’s Cup will always be exclusive, it will always be the premiere event and it’s never going to be an event for the masses. This is clear, it never has been and never will be. This is precisely part of its appeal. For centuries we had the involvement of people like Sir Thomas Lipton and it’s always going to be the pinnacle and premiere. Just like Formula 1 or Premier League Football, it’s an expensive game. However, there is a balance. You can make it so exclusive that just one man in the world can afford it and you can go down to the Optimist level where you have hundreds and thousands of people.

I think that collectively, ourselves, Torbjörn and the other teams would like to see a few more teams involved. It doesn’t need to be a huge event, we want to keep it exclusive and we want to keep the “wow” factor in there and a few of the things that were breathtaking, not just on TV but also from the shore. I think that requires a certain boat size but for sure we support very much the efforts of Oracle and we are regularly communicating with them about cost, trying to get that balance just right. You want to keep the development element as much as possible, the excitement and the “wow” factor, that also comes from the development.

VSail.info: Everybody’s raging about foiling but, after all, it wouldn’t have existed if Emirates Team New Zealand hadn’t developed it!
Iain Percy: Absolutely and that’s another thing I have huge respect for them, having led the development side of that cycle, but there is a balance. We are trying to bring the costs down by 20-30% so that the next Cup can include a few more enthusiasts of our sport, companies and commercial partners, to join and make it slightly bigger.

VSail.info: That would also allow your buddy Ben Ainslie to find the adequate corporate funding and come in with a British team, wouldn’t it?
Iain Percy: That would be great. I’m really proud of what he’s trying to achieve. It takes a lot to take that on. He’s genuinely trying to be a businessman as well as a successful sailor. Whether he succeeds or not takes nothing away from the effort he’s putting in, which I think is fantastic for the sport. He’s a huge name for our sport, he’s a good friend but also incredible competitor. It takes personalities like him to take our sport beyond its traditional public and as a result, I really support what he’s doing. I talk to him regularly and I wish him very well with that.

VSail.info: If at the end, unfortunately, he’s unable to come up with the necessary funding for the British team, will you hire him for Artemis Racing?
Iain Percy: We are currently building a team independent of that, we have to. Myself and Ben are pretty open with each other that we don’t need to play games with each other, after knowing him for 30 years. We at Artemis Racing need to build a team that is capable of winning and dominating the Cup arena. We are going ahead doing that.

Artemis Racing in the first race of the Louis Vuitton Cup semifinals. San Francisco, 6 Augusts 2013. Photo copyright Carlo Borlenghi / Luna Rossa

VSail.info: If I’m not mistaken, the official title you have in Artemis Racing is Team Manager. Does this mean there will, eventually, be a CEO in the team or are you the boss?
Iain Percy: Torbjörn and myself wanted to pick a name that was a little bit less hierarchical. It is quite significant, we don’t want to have a team that has too many layers, we are a flatter structure and Torbjörn has ran his business in this way. It was a subtle but significant change in the title for the leadership of the team. in some ways, even in business, the almighty CEO title is going away and this is ironically coming out of California. Companies are working now in a slightly more collaborative way, maybe with strong leadership and direction, but not necessarily in a hierarchical top-down layer structure. Torbjörn is very innovative in his business and although it is a subtle name change, it is significant.

VSail.info: Will you be onboard the boat?
Iain Percy: Yes, if, of course, I’m up to standard.

VSail.info: Can you be the team manager, CEO or call it what you like and at the same time sail?
Iain Percy: I think if you have a lot of support you can. If you look at all the successful Cups, probably before this one, the leadership of the team came from the boat. You can think of Brad, Russell and Dennis before that, it was very unusual for the team leader not to be intrinsically involved in the boat.

VSail.info: Russell Coutts won the Cup without going onboard.
Iain Percy: That’s why I said before this Cup. This was probably the first time with Russell a CEO that wasn’t sailing. You can do it in both ways but technically it doesn’t hurt to be that type. You win the America’s Cup by going faster the right way and starting better. We can’t lose sight of that and if you’re on the boat, you’re living it, and you bring it back home to the base when you make decisions. It’s much easier.

VSail.info: In a recent statement by Torbjörn Törnqvist on Bloomberg, you and Nathan Outteridge are the nucleus of the core group that will form Artemis Racing. Will Nathan be again the helmsman?
Iain Percy: We aren’t going to make these announcements right now. We are building a team and it’s going to be a very, very strong one. It won’t be long before we make any announcements, both on the sailing and design side, that, I think, will impress the people who study this game closely and you will realize what I mean when I say we are very serious about dominating this game.

VSail.info: I look forward to reading that impressive press release. However, you still haven’t officially challenged for the 35th America’s Cup. When are you going to do that?
Iain Percy: Torbjörn has made no bounds about his ambitions to win the America’s Cup. The only thing, of course, we need to check are the rules of the competition… [Laughs] There is absolutely no cynicism in that, we are in regular contact with Russell and Oracle Team and we share very much their vision on where to take things. We don’t foresee any problem there but I think it would be prudent to wait and see what the rules are before we make that final commitment.

VSail.info: You stated a few minutes ago that one of the things you were working on was a 20-30% reduction in costs. How would you do that? Will a smaller boat bring down costs or should the next Cup also be sailed with the AC72′s?
Iain Percy: I don’t think that size is particularly the crucial factor. There has been some talk about a slightly smaller boat and to me that wouldn’t matter, to a point. Myself and Torbjörn talked a lot about this because we watched quite a lot of that fantastic final from the shore and it is important to know that, even though they are huge boats with huge wings, you couldn’t get that much smaller and still be able to watch it well from the shore. That is quite an important element of bringing that to the people of San Francisco and to those that travel to watch it. I would, personally, be happy to see a slightly smaller boat to save costs and increase safety to some extent, which is also very important.

But, the way you really reduce costs is by reducing the amount of people you have involved and you have to look at how you do that. This is something we are doing quite collaboratively in our discussions and one thing Russell is looking really hard at is how to best reduce numbers of people, number of design hours, number of sailing hours without reducing from the event. There will be a one-design element involved in that.

VSail.info: Are you in favor of incorporating one-design elements in the new America’s Cup boat?
Iain Percy: Yes but with a lot of careful forethought. I come from a dinghy background where I have seen one-designs like the 49er which I don’t think it is necessarily right when you see the top 49er sailors having to buy 20 masts before they find the right one. My opinion is that when the boats get more and more critical and technical it’s much harder for them to be one-design.

If you supply equipment where even half a millimeter makes a difference, like daggerboards, you open up the event to a lot of problems if someone suddenly feels they were supplied with a poor set of daggerboards. It would become the story of the Cup and that would be a real shame. Let the guys build their own daggerboards, it’s a small design sphere and it wouldn’t really affect the cost very much. There are bigger items of the boat, maybe an element of the wing, the beams maybe or some other elements of the boat that organizers can overbuild, supply, make them very safe without affecting performance too much.

That’s the key point for me, to find the elements that aren’t critical to performance because that would be a difficult game for me. It’s also the interesting part for both the public to watch and the teams to do: Daggerboards, hull shapes, to some extent maybe the elements of the wing and the mechanical systems. These are the things that are extremely exciting and interesting to watch and understand for an increasingly technical viewing public. But how do we cut costs? We have to look at one-design elements without really affecting performance. You see that in Formula 1 all the time. There are elements they try to keep the same to keep the costs down but they are also trying to keep as much of the design element for the spectators that very much enjoy that aspect.

According to Iain Percy, safety should be improved in this America’s Cup in order to avoid such tragic incidents

VSail.info: We are sitting right now in the Puerto Calero marina and right in front of us we have the Team SCA VO65. There you have an example of race organizers that go all the way to one-design where everything except clothing, food and logos will be strictly the same.
Iain Percy: For me that’s gone a little bit too far. I think it takes away an interest from technical partners. I think that one thing that differentiates our sport is its so visibly incredible technology. That aspect is very attractive to partners that are in that sphere. I think that could be another slight danger, if commercial partners can’t be seen to be making a technical difference. It might distract them from wanting to be in the sport.

VSail.info: Another major unknown is the date of the next America’s Cup. Conventional wisdom wants it to take place either on 2016 or 2017. Do you have any preference?
Iain Percy: I don’t think Torbjörn Törnqvist minds particularly but we don’t want it to be too long away. It’s also very tricky with the Olympic year, in 2016, and it would have to be 2017 if they want to encourage new teams, as early in the year you can in San Francisco. It was a fantastic venue and there aren’t many places in the world that allow you to guarantee start times and wind conditions every day. There are a few but San Francisco is the home town of the Defender. For me, I can see no reason why it wouldn’t be in San Francisco in 2017, unless they have issues locally.

VSail.info: If it’s in 2017, as early in the year as possible as you stated, would San Francisco be the ideal venue in, let’s say, spring?
Iain Percy: It doesn’t have to be as late as September and I think we can start a little bit earlier, in May or June. I’ve been there for the last summer and conditions started getting pretty good as early as April. It wouldn’t be good over the winter as the conditions then wouldn’t make it viable. The seabreeze and the pressure difference, obviously, must be established and that comes in spring. It could be some time in the summer and we could move it a little bit forward but last time they tried to have it as late as possible.

VSail.info: Do you rule out 2016?
Iain Percy: It has always been a challenge for the Cup as the Olympics are a huge sports event, as is the World Football Cup. It’s hard to find the dates in which such a premier sporting event can stand alone and stand out. From a commercial standpoint it’s also good not to be in an Olympic year.

VSail.info: The city of Cagliari announced that Luna Rossa had officially requested space to have a base there for two-three years. Is this something Artemis Racing will do?
Iain Percy: Yes, you need to have a base but then again you don’t make any commitments until you absolutely know where it is exactly going to be held. If, for any reason, the Cup is in the Mediterranean or on the US East coast we would need a very different base than if it were in San Francisco. For sure, we are a technical sailing team and we will need a base to develop and train.

Artemis Racing grabbed third place in the 2013 RC44 Match Racing Championship. Puerto Calero, 20 November 2013. Photo copyright MartinezStudio / RC44 Class Association

VSail.info: Short term, what is your goal on the eve of the RC44 World Championship? Is victory a feasible goal?
Iain Percy: Victory should always be your goal! This is my second regatta in the class and I really enjoyed the first one. Again, for me it has been a long time since I had done this style of grand-prix racing and there are some excellent teams here, full of past RC44 champions, America’s Cup sailors. For me it’s actually the start of the RC44 season even if it’s the end and for sure I haven’t been into any competition without wanting to win it and do as well as we possibly can. We will fight for every place in every race. Next year and the year after we will be doing the RC44 circuit and this has been a big part of Artemis Racing.

This has been a sailing team, not solely an America’s Cup team, for a lot of years and Torbjörn has been a huge supporter of a lot of classes, the TP52′s, the RC44′s and the D35′s. We look forward to the 2014 season and we will have more involvement from our America’s Cup guys, I will be more involved and that will be fantastic for a couple of reasons. Firstly, we will have the chance to develop and race a technical boat together. We will also have more time to interact with Torbjörn and having been through last year with him as the leader of the Cup team, each time we have his involvement we make smarter decisions.

VSail.info: Won’t that interfere with the America’s Cup World Series or whatever that America’s Cup circuit is called?
Iain Percy: Artemis Racing and Torbjörn were active in the RC44 class in the past and that hasn’t clashed with the America’s Cup campaign. We are going to commit to the RC44 class and I think it’s a great boat for us as a squad and I don’t think the America’s Cup will ramp up that much for a little while and that fits very well. It gives us the opportunity to develop our team before the AC45 or whatever circuit they produce.

VSail.info: Are you in favor of the AC45 circuit continuing as well?
Iain Percy: Yes, I think that everyone felt it was a real success. It was fun to do, it was great for the spectators. Fleet racing is exciting and always gave good capsizes. The AC45′s are great boats that can capsize safely, they never break. Artemis Racing had 14 capsizes and nobody was hurt. I think it’s a fantastic boat, very well designed by Oracle Team and it was a good circuit. I look forward to Oracle taking the lead again and don’t forget that takes a lot of investment in time and money that Oracle did last time. We are very grateful and we hope they will do it again this time because it is good for our sport. It is very good for sailing, it is fun for the teams to do and builds interest among the spectators.

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