Peter Gilmour: The possibility of change

Published on September 2nd, 2010

peter_gilmour(September 2, 2010) Australian Peter Gilmour is a three-time season champion of the World Match Racing Tour (WMRT), and last fall joined a group of investors that purchased the tour. He remains actively involved in the tour as both a competitor and administrator, and shared with Scuttlebutt his thoughts regarding the use of multihull boats for the America’s Cup:

I am a big advocate for change in sailing and believe that generally commercialization has been happening too slowly, however, this possible change for the America’s Cup (from monohull to multihull) is a beauty that is even stretching my own way of thinking!

The change for our sport is for sure a significant one, if the AC goes to multihulls for AC34 and future editions so long as BMW Oracle/Golden Gate YC remain the defender. The World Match Racing Tour has been the clear pathway for sailors and teams to develop their skills, attitude and success towards the America’s Cup. When you look at the last 30 years of America’s Cup skippers, you see that John Bertrand, Dennis Conner, Russell Coutts, Ed Baird and James Spithill (not sure about Buddy Melges) and their crews – and the vast group of challengers/defenders that they overcame – have all participated in some small or large part in the Tour or the foundation events that now make up the World Match Racing Tour.

Most recently I look at the tremendous skill Russell, Ed and James (as well as more recently Ernesto and Larry) have acquired and the reliability that this has translated to in sailing terms and that it would be essential for the Tour to move with the times.

We would be open to looking at including multihull events on to the Tour calendar if it worked for the teams and our event promoters. The key platforms of what the Tour represents is that, fleets are owned and maintained in identical performance by the event/promoter, there is significant prize money on the outcome, a substantial amount of racing whereby the teams are really tested, the ISAF Match Racing Rules are in play, and also a significant media presence all ensures that the “ability to perform under pressure” is quantified by the final result. We’d need to be sure that the essence of match racing, the one-on-one, in your face, up close and personal gladiatorial battle would not be diminished by the difference that cats would bring.

The 32nd America’s Cup in 2007 was a great match race. It brought out all elements of sailing skill and more that can be developed on the Tour. One area the team at WMRT is currently investigating is to raise the technical requirements capable of being used in a match race, such as bigger boats, instrumentation, tracking, weather data, active communication and play-by-play analysis. This will not only enhance the current skill level of sailors and coaches so they are ready for AC racing, but will also engage the audience in a new way.

Not all our teams will make an AC roster; there will remain plenty of existing and emerging talent for whom the World Match Racing Tour will be the most important part of their calendar. We are working hard to rebuild this opportunity and expand the offering so taking on a few new and different events may be fairly interesting.

Now these are my thoughts and our promoters may not want to embrace the change. We will be here long after the AC cats phase has been and gone and will remain the pre-eminent arena for monohull match racing.

The irony of the decision to go to cats would make the WMRT the most significant monohull match race series in the world!

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