Uncomfortably balanced on the fence

Published on May 11th, 2020

After spending (arguably too much) time in lockdown surfing social media and online yacht racing forums, Yacht Racing Life editor Justin Chisholm speculates on the viability or otherwise of a parallel America’s Cup format raced in high-performance but non-foiling monohulls.


Let me say up front that I am writing this at the end of eight weeks of tight lockdown imposed by the Spanish government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Stuck inside for so long with precious little else to do has resulted in me resorting to spending long hours scrolling mindlessly through apparently endless pages of sailing-related social media and online forum posts.

While much of this is pretty much completely wasted time that I will never ever get back, one consistent theme that stood out from all the background chatter did get me speculating.

You don’t have to spend very long on Facebook (for example) to recognize that – at least among those individuals more than willing to take the time express an opinion – when it comes to the America’s Cup there is significant support for a return to non-foiling monohull boats rather than the hyper-high-performance foiling boats of the current and last two editions.

Cards on the table here: I am a massive fan of the foiling catamarans used for the 34th and 35th America’s Cup cycles and equally so of the amazing AC75 flying monohull concept introduced for AC36. I think the latest boats are simply magnificent and I am in complete awe of the skill levels required of the crews just to sail them in a straight line – never mind trying to match race them around a confined racecourse.

Like very many others I cannot wait to see the AC75 foiling monohulls match racing for the first time – hopefully in Auckland, New Zealand in December this year – when I believe we will witness the fastest most adrenaline-pumping boats being raced by the best sailors in the world as they attempt to win yacht racing’s ultimate prize.

Nevertheless I do also confess to harboring a persistent worry about the future of the new need-for-speed America’s Cup and its relevance to the bulk of active sailboat racers around the world. Full story.

Editor’s note: We suggest Justin consume another bottle of Rioja and ponder how the current path of the America’s Cup resembles a previous chapter when racing was held in J Class yachts until they proved to be excessive, and the event shifted to the smaller, less expensive 12 Metre class. Will the AC75, which is seen to be exceedingly complex and costly, require the next reboot?

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