America’s Cup: Rambling Rant from a Fan

Among the attributes of the America’s Cup that sets it apart is how all sailing enthusiasts live within its shadow. Few participate in it, but all sailors are attached to it. Some revel in this attachment; others despise it.

The America’s Cup doesn’t belong to the trustees or the current defender. It belongs to the people, which is why opinions are so passionate. Brad Ansley from Tallassee, TN shares his…

My brother and I have been having the ongoing discussion about the vagaries and the fragility of the Deed of Gift of the America’s Cup tradition ever sense Michael Fay built the 120-foot KZ1 and blew the lid off of “good faith” in racing.

Just so you know, my brother is a yacht designer (the Stilletto Catamaran built by Force Engineering in Sarasota, FL back in the 70s-80s). It was a state of the art, pre-preg, Nomex honeycomb trailerable 27′ catamaran that was loosely based on the C-Class cats that race in the “Little America’s Cup”.

I have been a sailor most of my life, Hobie Cat salesman and worked for 11 years as a joiner for Derecktor Shipyard in Mamaroneck, NY, builder of Dennis Conner’s 12 meter Stars and Stripes that won the Cup back from the Aussies in Freemantle in 1987. That was the last time the 12 meter boats were slated for the America’s Cup, and it was a fabulous event to watch even before the computer enhanced coverage we have now.

I was living in Atlanta during the 1987 Match, and would take a nap when I got home from work then and go to the Atkins Park bar and restaurant at about 2am to watch the races live with some other zealots. They kept the bar open so we could see each race live to the end. Along with the Challenger series, that was the best AC I’ve ever seen. It was out in the ocean with big wind, big waves, and heavy duty boats that could take the beating. I went to work for Derecktor the next year, but the 12-meter boats had already become a foot note.

In 1988, Dennis Conner’s little 60′ cat against KZ1 in gentle waters of San Diego was the worst Cup in my memory, and the 2010 event with the Tri against the Cat was not much better (although very interesting). All in all the America’s Cup Class has made for the best racing. Just look at how often the Cup changes hands. I do think SF Bay is a fantastic venue, and I will be there for the actual Defense in September.

Here’s my proposition. I would like to see a class that didn’t require the resources of billionaires in order to compete. It would also be nice to require that the crews actually be residents of the country where the boat is financed from, if not actually built at.

The worst thing about this year’s AC is that after several years of R&D and hundreds of races all over the world with the AC45s, they hauled off and added hydrofoils to the AC72s with no R&D. Really?

I say open up the Little America’s Cup to bigger boats and let them run that development class. The America’s Cup should go back to boats that look and sail (no wings please!) with some semblance of what the average yachtsman is likely to be sailing on. And, most importantly, create a class that is within the financial range of the most potential competitors.

Personally, I think the International America’s Cup Class boat (used for five editions from 1992-2007) was a great platform for the kind of R&D that will trickle down to the average sailor.

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