Happy to be along for the ride

Published on December 14th, 2023

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt Sailing News
When I was growing up in Southern California, among the people I looked up to was Bill Menninger.

Bill was a bit older than me, and was very successful in the ‘then’ new J/24 Class. He is still older than me, still doing well at whatever boat he is racing, and now also celebrating the success of his son Michael who is a key member of the US America’s Cup challenger, American Magic.

The latest America’s Cup continues a trend that began with the 2013 edition when dramatic changes to the boats and format were made to increase the event’s audience. But these changes, which encouraged us to watch it like never before, fostered a new kind of criticism of which Bill offers his view:

The America’s Cup has always been about technology, making things more efficient and faster, and the current technology is pretty amazing. These boats are on par with the J Class in their day, spectacular, expensive, and fast!

But the number of crew sailing the modern Cup boat is a different story. The foilers have a team of 6 to 8 as compared to 30 on the Js. The technology that drives efficiency in all of our lives has eliminated a spinnaker, a keel and along with those two items, about 90% of the crew required to sail them.

But the shore teams are huge. The teamwork, planning, and investment compare more to a Formula One race car versus anything we are familiar with in the sailing world. But we may have a lot to look forward to.

The final SailGP race in Dubai produced a photo finish finale. Rules came in to play. It was fun to watch! And I suspect the America’s Cup will be spectacularly better than the naysayers predict. But it may take a Netflix-style behind-the-scenes documentary series to appreciate the full story.

How did the team evolve? Who made the breakthrough? What sailing team meshed together to harness the technology? And what limitations were they up against in the process? What level of commitment was needed from each division of the team?

While I’m happy to see the 2023 Youth Match Racing World Championship being held in somewhat normal boats with three sails, we can all learn a few things from the current America’s Cup as well. I’m happy to be along for the ride, but I wish those new boats had a station for a tag along observer to witness the speeds and the finesse of these teams on the race course.

Following the publication of the AC37 Protocol and AC75 Class Rule on November 17, 2021, the AC75 Class Rule and AC Technical Regulations were finalized on March 17, 2022. The entry period opened December 1, 2021 and runs until July 31, 2022, but late entries for the 37th America’s Cup may be accepted until May 31, 2023. The Defender was to announce the Match Venue on September 17, 2021 but postponed the venue reveal, confirming it would be Barcelona on March 30, 2022. The 37th America’s Cup begins October 12, 2024.

Teams revealed to challenge defender Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL):
• INEOS Britannia (GBR)
• Alinghi Red Bull Racing (SUI)
• Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team (ITA)
• NYYC American Magic (USA)
• Orient Express Racing Team (FRA)

2023-24 Preliminary Regattas
September 14-17, 2023 (AC40): Vilanova i la Geltrú, Spain
November 30-December 2 (AC40): Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
August 2024 (AC75): Barcelona, Spain

2024 America’s Cup
August 29-October 7: Challenger Selection Series
October 12 – ?: 37th Match (Best of 13)

Additionally, 12 teams will compete in the 2024 Youth & Women’s America’s Cup.

Noticeboard: https://ac37noticeboard.acofficials.org/
Additional details: www.americascup.com/en/home

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