Sitting down with Grant Simmer

Published on September 8th, 2020

Shirley Robertson

For this month’s episode of double Olympic gold medalist Shirley Robertson’s Sailing Podcast, America’s Cup Hall of Famer Grant Simmer is in the hot seat to discuss his remarkable Cup career.

Currently in the role of CEO at British challenger INEOS TEAM UK, Simmer is into his eleventh Cup campaign, furthering a relationship with the oldest trophy in world sport which began in 1983.

As a 26 year old, Simmer was navigator onboard Australia II in the 26th America’s Cup, and was a vital part of John Bertrand’s afterguard in the Cup that finally put an end to the longest winning streak in world sport.

For 132 years, the New York Yacht Club had successfully defended 24 challenges to the Cup, but Alan Bond’s team onboard Australia II finally managed to uproot the trophy and take it back to Australia, to a hero’s welcome. Simmer’s memories of this time are a remarkable glimpse into what was one of the most historically significant moments in international sport.

“When we heard that the Prime Minister of Australia was essentially calling a holiday because we’d won this event, everybody was just shocked by the magnitude of what we’d done. I remember thinking ‘Wow! He called a holiday! What’s that all about…? We had the ticker tape parade in Perth, it was quite a big deal’.”

Post AC26, Simmer initially returned to work as an engineer, but was back working with John Bertrand for the 1995 Cup in San Diego. As design coordinator, Simmer was responsible for the build of One Australia’s Cup boat, but the outcome of their race against New Zealand in the Challenger Series would become Cup legend.

“It was quite rough and choppy and there was some debate whether we’d race because it was so windy and I’d been arguing we should race so we can find out what would break. The engineers were a bit nervous, but we raced and famously the boat buckled in the sheerline and broke in half and sank.”

Simmer’s stories from throughout his Cup career are illuminating, and provide a wonderful insight into a life spent chasing one of the most elusive trophies in world sport. From his campaigns with Swiss team Alinghi, through his relationship with Russell Coutts, and his time spent campaigning with Oracle Team USA, Grant Simmer has played a pivotal role in the modern America’s Cup era, and has an almost unparalleled place in the sport.

Grant Simmer

Throughout this two-part podcast, Robertson and Simmer reflect on amongst other things, the remarkable win in AC34, as Oracle Team USA came back from the seemingly impossible to beat Emirates Team New Zealand, and then how the tables turned in the waters of Bermuda in 2017.

The pair finish their revealing chat by looking to the future, and the 2021 America’s Cup in Auckland, as Simmer discusses his role with Ben Ainslie’s Cup team INEOS TEAM UK, and how he hopes his decades of Cup experience will help the British team finally win the the Cup back for a nation that haven’t held it since it’s very first regatta 169 years ago.

“I am confident that we’ve made some good decisions, over the past year particularly, so making good decisions at the right time in the campaign is important. Continuing to learn is important and not to be too proud of your decisions, but to understand why other people have made decisions, technically. I always say if you run out money and time at the same time, then you’ve manage the campaign perfectly.”

This edition of the podcast is in two parts:

Part 1

Part 2

Shirley Robertson OBE made history by becoming the first British woman to win Olympic Gold Medals at two consecutive Olympic Games. Shirley Robertson’s Sailing Podcast, produced and edited by Tim Butt of Vertigo Films, is available to listen on her website or via most popular podcast outlets, including iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcast, and aCast.

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