America’s Cup teams vote to change boat

Published on April 1st, 2015

(April 1, 2015) – The six teams entered in the America’s Cup have voted this week on changing the class of boat to be used in the 35th America’s Cup. While initially believed that the proposal was to reduce the size of the boat from the AC62, which had previously been announced in June 2014, the teams have approved a change to J-Class yachts.

Last used for the Cup in the 1930’s, the J’s re-appearance after an 80 year absence reflects a grass roots resurgence in the class, which now boasts more new boats than restored originals. The J-Class Association had already accepted an invitation from the Organisers of the 2017 America’s Cup to participate in a J Class regatta prior to the AC35 event, with eight J-Class yachts scheduled to attend.

“The sad fact is,” notes Oracle’s Russell Coutts, “you just can’t make a sailboat move 40 kts and still throw a lot of water around. Whether 72’, 62’ or 45’, these flying catamarans move too smoothly to express excitement. In terms of visual drama, the J’s throw a ton of spray, snarling & snorting every time they break 10 kts. Switching to the J’s will provide compelling racing.”

A new amendment will also ban commercial support, limiting participation to the billionaires which are active class members. The move clearly reflects Larry Ellison’s frustration over the inability to get a half-dozen commercially-supported catamarans to show up for the Cup, while a fleet of J’s are converging on Bermuda just for the hell of it. Indeed, most current J-Class members have a “quiver” of yachts, with the J not necessarily the biggest.

Coutts admits that his ideas to modernize the Cup have failed. “When the 2013 Caribbean regattas were attracting more J’s than the 2013 America’s Cup attracted entrants, it was time to accept that the foiling catamaran and our ‘sex sells’ theory had failed,” he said.

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