Home >

Sailweb  RSS feed
America's Cup

AC72 to embrace new safety requirements

On Wednesday, the America’s Cup Regatta Director, Iain Murray, delivered 37 recommendations to improve the safety of the AC72s on San Francisco Bay. The America’s Cup Event Authority (ACEA) and America’s Cup Race Management (ACRM) added these recommendations in their entirety to an amended Marine Event Permit application and submitted it to the Coast Guard for its consideration. If approved, the safety recommendations will become ‘requirements’ to participate in the AC72 events this summer.

In sport, when things go wrong, people sometimes get injured or worse. Those sports that involve leading edge technology and athletes competing at the highest level tend to magnify the consequences when things go wrong. F1, NASCAR, Indycar, Kite Surfing, Moto GP, X Games are some examples. And sailing is another.

A number of these sports have dealt with tragedy by thoroughly reviewing their systems and processes, in particular those surrounding the personal safety of the participants.

The new AC72 safety recommendations aim to reduce the potential for capsize while recognizing that capsizes may still occur. The proposals therefore also address how the teams improve the personal safety of the sailors during and after a capsize. Much as crashes still occur in F1 but safety measures have resulted in no loss of driver life, our new safety requirements seek to do the same.

As the Event Authority, we are now focused on tuning-up our event plans to embrace the new safety requirements. To allow for increased AC72 maintenance, the schedule will be tweaked, cutting the number of rounds from seven to five. This change is expected to effect only a very small number of race days, primarily in July.

Possibly the biggest impact will be the reduced wind limits. Our data shows that in July, winds could be above our new limit as much as 30% of the time. But by bringing the race time forward by an hour, for example, we could dramatically reduce the likelihood of the wind being above the limit.

Click image for a larger image

So we are currently looking into this to achieve the goal of reliable start times. The good news is that the winds get a little lighter in August and then lighter again in September, to the point where there is a low probability of races in September being impacted by the new wind limits.

Safety was always the priority. Improving it is a constant quest and there is always more work to be done, but it is good to be able to move forward knowing we are all collectively focused on doing everything we possibly can so that any future incident doesn’t result in the loss of another great sailor’s life.