America’s Cup: Winning in the gym

Published on January 16th, 2020

The four teams on the water for the 36th America’s Cup will get their first taste of competition at the 2020 America’s Cup World Series on April 23-26 in Cagliari, Italy. Ben Williams, Head of Human Performance for INEOS TEAM UK, explains what the British challenger will be doing to prepare:

How have the team adapted to the new boat? Have they had to learn any new skills?

The America’s Cup is a unique sporting event; ever-changing and evolving both on and off the water. As the boats get more technical and faster, this evolution plays a significant role in the sailing sports science program.

We have 17 sailors within the team, some of the best sailors in the world and Britannia will race with 11 crew onboard. The sailors are professionals at the top of their game and with each edition of the race, they need to learn to adapt to sailing new concepts with new technologies and help to develop them.

The change from the ACC class raced during the 35th America’s Cup (a 50 foot foiling catamaran), to the AC75 for the 36th AC, in simple terms means the athletes now need to be bigger, stronger and capable of producing higher peak powers consistently, for a 30-minute race.

Can you walk us through the team schedule starting now through till the first race day?

We need to develop our race duration power qualities, but also have athletes that can absorb the load of five to six hours during on-water training sessions. Essentially, we have to train for two sports that are very similar. Like road cycling vs time trial cycling. Similar but different.

Every step is planned for and adjusted as the athletes develop and take into account conditioning, structural integrity (strength), wellness, recovery, performance nutrition, and blood profiling.

What will the team be focusing on throughout these final stages?

In the final stages the ‘physical’ hard work should be done and we will be really focused on the competitive technical and tactical elements of sailing. At this time, we will be concentrating on health, recovery, and mental focus on the test in hand, keeping the athletes as optimal as possible through our competitive racing periods.

Any final thoughts?

Speed is the name of the game and essentially the team with the fastest boat will win the Cup, but that team will also need a very powerful crew.

36th America’s Cup
In addition to Challenges from Italy, USA, and Great Britain that were accepted during the initial entry period (January 1 to June 30, 2018), eight additional Notices of Challenge were received by the late entry deadline on November 30, 2018. Of those eight submittals, entries from Malta, USA, and the Netherlands were also accepted. Here’s the list:

• Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL)

• Luna Rossa (ITA) – Challenger of Record
• American Magic (USA)
• Malta Altus Challenge (MLT) – WITHDRAW
• Stars + Stripes Team USA (USA)
• DutchSail (NED) – WITHDRAW

Of the three late entries, only Stars+Stripes USA remains committed, but they still must complete the entry fee payment process before they will be eligible to race. They have allegedly made their initial payment but as a late entry challenger under the Protocol, they also have a liability to pay a US$1million late entry fee due in installments by October 1, 2019. However, it is not yet confirmed if they have paid the fee, nor is there any knowledge of a boat being actively built or sailing team training as of January 8, 2020.

Key America’s Cup dates:
✔ September 28, 2017: 36th America’s Cup Protocol released
✔ November 30, 2017: AC75 Class concepts released to key stakeholders
✔ January 1, 2018: Entries for Challengers open
✔ March 31, 2018: AC75 Class Rule published
✔ June 30, 2018: Entries for Challengers close
✔ August 31, 2018: Location of the America’s Cup Match and The PRADA Cup confirmed
✔ August 31, 2018: Specific race course area confirmed
✔ November 30, 2018: Late entries deadline
✔ March 31, 2019: Boat 1 can be launched (DELAYED)
✔ 2nd half of 2019: 2 x America’s Cup World Series events (CANCELLED)
October 1, 2019: US$1million late entry fee deadline (NOT KNOWN)
February 1, 2020: Boat 2 can be launched
April 23-26, 2020: First America’s Cup World Series event in Cagliari, Sardinia
During 2020: 3 x America’s Cup World Series events
December 10-20, 2020: America’s Cup Christmas Race
January and February 2021: The PRADA Cup Challenger Selection Series
March 2021: The America’s Cup Match

AC75 launch dates:
September 6 – Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL), Boat 1
September 10 – American Magic (USA), Boat 1; actual launch date earlier but not released
October 2 – Luna Rossa (ITA), Boat 1
October 4 – INEOS Team UK (GBR), Boat 1


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