Perhaps the AC75 is what’s needed for now
Published on March 16th, 2021
by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt Sailing News
From his start as a coach for BMW Oracle Racing in the 2010 America’s Cup, Glenn Ashby has seen one radical boat after another contend for the trophy. Now in his third campaign as a key member of the Team New Zealand crew, he is calling for continuity in the America’s Cup as the AC75s begin to show their true potential.
“The boats are absolutely phenomenal,” said Ashby to STUFF, who has had plenty of input into their development over the last four years, particularly with his vast knowledge and experience in the sail department.
“For round one, if you like, or the first generation of these AC75s, they’re a beautiful boat … beautiful looking at rest and beautiful in anger as well.”
The last four Cups have each had a new boat type to understand, so keeping the AC75 would allow for further refinement, which should translate to increased parity and better racing.
“I think that’s one of the special things with the design concept, is the boats themselves do tick so many boxes, and I’m very, very proud to be part of that,” he added.
While the sailors adore the boats, the knock has been their expense, limited experience in design and sailing skill, and relatability to viewers. While only one challenger is needed in the America’s Cup, more teams are required to deliver commercial sustainability.
What the event has lacked in the past decade is stability, with previous trustees manipulating the format to produce an entertainment product. That was never the intent of its founders, and the conditions of the Deed of Gift must be respected as the reason for the event’s relevance, and not an obstacle to its future.
The AC75 was certainly not what anyone expected when New Zealand won the 2017 America’s Cup, and I can’t see much on the boat that, if allowed in the sport of sailing, won’t increase costs and limit participation, but perhaps another go for the class in the America’s Cup is what’s needed for now.