The cancellation of the ACWS events in Cagliari and Portsmouth has meant that many features of the first iteration of the AC75 remain unknown.
While the obvious hull design variations have been noted and debated, the reality is that little is known of the comparative performance potential of the four designs currently sailing.
This is a throwback to the pre-world series days, with the teams now heading to Auckland without competing against one another, and without their actual race boats even having been launched !
This has the potential for a great America’s Cup or a disastrous farce.
Iain Murray, Race Director of the 36th America’s Cup, highlighted this situation in a recent interview with Tip & Shaft.
With AC36 we are back into bigger boats, big crews, very cutting edge designs and facets of sailing which are not proven or amended. This is first generation stuff which I find really interesting.
The different theories, the boats, hull shapes, wing sizes, what the people are trying to do, the race course and what the style of boat they are going to need.
We will get to Auckland with the results of all these really smart guys looking at each other and their analysis of what they have learned from their first generation boats put into the second boats.
You do get the feeling everyone is going to come to New Zealand and they are going to be locked and loaded, like America’s Cups of the past where that first moment on that first day is going to be quite revealing.
It will be. “Wow, what have we got here!”
There are so many very smart people out there developing the tools and technology they have got. The America’s Cup has always been such a design contest as much as anything.
This version of the America’s Cup is not going to disappoint.
The other big unknown are the courses . . . and a return to windward starts.
The World Series with fleet racing required the cross-wind starts to get the boats equal round the first mark and not suffer from winners and losers off the start.
The return of upwind start match racing, with the monohull foiling boats ability to sail upwind is very, very different to what we knew back then.
The start, approaching the start on foils and going upwind doing 20+ knots is going to be important.
If you get fouled or pushed or come down off the foils, that will be a big loss, but likewise a manoeuvre which does not go to plan will see big losses.
With these boats, like all foiling boats, time on the foil is a key ingredient.
The vagaries of different hull shapes and the aero effects, the ground effects, the splashdown stops, there are a lot of interesting stuff which can happen and which will probably change with the racing style of competitors.
In the lighter breezes these boats will be up and down on and off the foils and if they need to carry downwind sails as opposed to jibs downwind it will be really mixed up.
My role now is making the racing work, preparing a fair and stable platform for the racing, and the control mechanisms around it.
Whether that is measurement rules, race course, safety they are the things I need to provide to the groups of people and make sure they can perform the way they would like to perform.
I think making sure there are rules, making sure everyone sticks to the rules and is on the same page.
Let the winning happen on the water.