Is this the future of owner-racer racing?

Published on August 5th, 2021

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt
After watching the 36th America’s Cup, with flying 75-footers that only billionaire can afford, I thought to myself what would happen if this was a trend for the sport. The AC75 was an unnerving concept that became a brilliant performer, but everything on the boat looked expensive and difficult to use.

For a sport struggling for participation, these are damaging variables, as was detailed in our report, The State of the Sport in 2020. However, for a sport powered by freedom and money, we are all one press release away from the latest development.

I consistently cringe when anything to do with foiling is considered the future of the sport. No doubt it is a phenomenal development, and will exist in sailing going forward, but if there is any marketing to diminish non-foiling sailing, we might as well start taking golf lessons. You thought participation is struggling now? Make people feel inadequate and see how it goes.

So it is with this introduction that I offer the latest, greatest thing that someone is funding… the Persico Fly40. Here are some highlights from the press release:

• The future of owner-racer racing is here: Persico Marine has transferred its America’s Cup experience to a 12-metre foiler designed for a 5-person crew. Now officially launched in the market, the boat is the first spin-off incorporating the research and development, construction technology and “spirit” of the 36th edition of the America’s Cup.

• Persico Marine has thus opened a new market segment targeted at owners, for whom the ‘new normal’ will be a foiler with canting arms – a high-performance, one-design-class monohull conceived for an upwind start, tacking duels and every aspect of the traditional regatta, but at three times the windspeed!

• The Persico Fly40 is 11.8 metres in length overall, 3.4 metres wide and 1,600 kilograms in weight and has 100 square metres of sail area and a minimum take-off speed of 7 knots TWS.

• “In the last five months,” Marcello Persico, president of Persico Marine, explained, “we have dedicated ourselves to achieving an impressive goal: transferring our research and development of the 36th America’s Cup to the market. In an instant, on the day we saw our AC75s sail for the first time, all our previous accomplishments up to that moment became ‘the past’.”

Because this sounds like a massively expensive effort, I hope it succeeds. The boat looks plenty cool in this video, but if I am being honest about what inspires broad participation in the sport, this is not it.

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