An Event with Modern Day Soul
Published on December 20th, 2015
The harder the task, the more alluring the challenge. It is that which has seen the America’s Cup grow in stature since its first challenge in 1870. To hold the trophy, it takes an investment in time and money, a trend that increases with each edition.
While few may ever contest for the event, the America’s Cup is the most notable prize in sailing. People that don’t sail know about the America’s Cup, and for those that do enjoy the sport, they are intrinsically linked to it.
But now, some people are not so keen with this association.
The desire to heighten the event’s entertainment appeal led to the shift from monohulls to multihulls, with foil development lifting boats to previously unseen speeds. But this shift came at the expense of the match racing paradigm. The America’s Cup had removed itself from this section of the sport.
When the holder of the Cup sought to auction the venue to the highest bidder, thus pitting their own U.S. club against others, it pushed the re-set button on well over a century of history. And now, with the winning bid coming from foreign soil, the modern America’s Cup hardly resembles the Deed of Gift that was designed to protect it.
The America’s Cup had lost some soul. It was no longer “a perpetual challenge Cup for friendly competition between foreign countries,” but rather a platform from which professional sailors and corporations can benefit.
Time will tell if such changes add to the allure, or tarnish it, but one group is not waiting to find out. Seeking to wind back the clock, and return a competition between nations to the venue of the 2013 America’s Cup, planning is well advanced for The Super 12 Cup in July 2017.
Westerly Marine in Southern California will construct the 65-foot one design yachts to be raced annually in the event, also known as the San Francisco Yacht Racing Challenge. Called the Super 12, the yacht was conceived by Farr Yacht Design, and will look like a classic 12 meter from the waterline up, but have a modern design below the water.
Construction begins in May, with the first boat to be launched in September. Depending on entries, there is time to build five or six before the inaugural event. The Notice of Race is expected by early 2016, with already one firm European entry and two USA teams in discussion.
The idea is to sail with 12 crew, with a minimum two women, two men, two age 22 or under, and one age 62 or over. While there are no sailor classification requirements anticipated, there will be a 100% nationality rule for the crew.
Scheduled for July 21-30 in 2017, the racing format calls for a 10-day event, with a fleet race qualifying series to advance the top four teams to the match racing Semi-Final and Final matches. The racing is to be held in the strong summer winds of San Francisco Bay, encouraging the sight of powerful monohulls competing along the City Front to harken memories of another era.
With many of the considerations for the event to control costs, it will be a test to limit the temptations of today’s sailors, and foster an event when the investment of time and money was not so significant. The goal is to celebrate friendly, fun, and fair competition, and maybe create an event with some modern day soul.