America’s Cup: Looking into the crystal ball

Published on February 4th, 2014

Everything was changed for the 34th America’s Cup: the boat, the venue, and the skills needed to compete. Changes are expected again for the 35th Match, but until those are (maybe) revealed next month, we will let AC fan-attic Eric Sorensen share the view from his crystal ball…

The America’s Cup pieces are falling into place very slowly. It appears Russell Coutts is still on board with defender Oracle Team USA, and now skipper Jimmy Spithill and afterguard Tom Slingsby have confirmed. I would guess Rome Kirby is a shoe in for the team as his USA passport works just fine for the hopeful nationality rule.

I foresee an AC World Series to continue with the two year old AC45s but adapted to foiling. These boats are too good a platform to just be discarded, plus a bit spendy at $1 million US a pop. They would go on a world tour again to the various homes of the challengers for racing, with the results possibly seeding the challengers for their elimination series.

This will be followed by the America’s Cup in San Francisco on boats at about 60-feet with crews of eight. Foiling, wings, catamarans, no power storage , shared launch facility, shared carbon fiber work room/s with all the vacuum bag toys for repairs and mods (similar to the ACWS).

More challengers than for the 34th AC. China is ramping up, Korea made a good showing in the ACWS, Australia is in as Challenger of Record, France is in, Sweden is in, Italy is in (I think, or should be), the Brits are pounding the pavement with their Ben Ainslie flag trying for money, and the most dangerous challenger from Kiwi land is Team New Zealand. There may be others but this is a good core.

We should see some fun if budgets can be trimmed so a competitive team program is at $50 million, but I suspect there will be no limit on the money spent. Why change the America’s Cup now? Deep pockets have the edge in most things and this will not change.

Editor’s note: Eric lives near Anacortes, Washington, which was the previous boat building site for Oracle Team USA. He may still have some of their tea leaves.

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