Getting USA Back into the Game
Published on October 31st, 2017
by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt
The Protocol for the America’s Cup is sort of like the Notice of Race but with less information. How many events would we commit to without knowing the details of the boat, the venue, and the dates?
But that’s exactly what Terry Hutchinson’s USA based challenge has done by publically declaring their intent to compete in the 36th America’s Cup.
For anyone who has ever competed in the America’s Cup, they all say two things: it is a race against time, and the decisions you make in the beginning impact the results at the end. Following that script, Hutchinson is doing what he can now to ensure a happy ending later.
It was in the team’s initial announcement that they want their campaign to positively impact sailing in the USA, but Hutchinson cautions the optimists in the crowd. “We are not the strong country we once were,” notes Hutchinson. “We are not the indisputable leaders, and we don’t have the depth. But there are examples of excellence and I am already in discussions with several of these USA sailors.”
What Hutchinson means is that the team will not be 100% red, white, and blue. “Our ability to really impact change occurs when we win, so first we must win. This will be an international team, but there will be USA sailors that have already proven they belong on this stage. We raise the game in the USA by mentoring our best with the best.”
But first things first, and that is the design of the boat. While the exact class rules have yet to be revealed, Hutchinson has already signed an exclusive agreement with Botin Partners Naval Architecture to design his yacht. This was a decision based on familiarity. “We have had a great relationship with the Botin design office through five TP52s, and it just feels like a natural fit.”
Marcelino Botin’s team is already involved on new boats for the 2018 season for team owners Hap Fauth’s Bella Mente Maxi72 program and Doug DeVos’ Quantum Racing TP52 team. These will be valuable platforms for Hutchinson’s program, both for competing at the highest level of monohull competition, but for the development and synergy of the sailing team.
“Hap and Doug have given this team an unprecedented opportunity that must be recognized. They both are brilliant in business, and success in this game requires that, and they also have historic success in sailing. We are not starting from scratch, and the relationships we already have formed are the bedrock for what we seek to build.”
In the absence of complete event details, determining exact campaign costs is not yet possible. “The America’s Cup has always required a war chest, but the bar has been raised recently to unsustainable levels. Keeping people from spending money is not easy, but I know the new defender is committed to containing costs. There have been rumors of our budget being 200-300 million dollars which could not be further from the truth.”
After competing in the America’s Cup for the USA in 2000 and 2003, Hutchinson’s more recent history has been with New Zealand and Sweden. “I feel privileged to be in my current position. I am about as red, white and blue as they come, and am determined this team will represent American values with work ethic and determination.”
These are still early days for Bella Mente Quantum Racing’s challenge, and while its entry in the 36th America’s Cup cannot be submitted until January 1, the game is well underway.