Total Pageviews

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

America's Cup, Nationality of the teams 2012

Population of various nationalities racing in the 2012 SF ACWS:

In order of population on the boats are the represented countries:  (These represent the starting sailors and do not include the spares or the shore teams)  Sailors of various nationalities are mixed UP in the fleet with no boat having a complete country represented with all 5 sailors.
NZL:  17
AUS:  7
GBR:  7
FRA:  6
ITA:  5
USA:  4
NED:  3
CHN:  2
ESP:  2
SUI:  1

A special note on the Chinese Team: 
There are back UP sailors on all the teams but in the China team they are taking Chinese sailors (a rare thing in China) and giving them time on the 45.  Most of the other teams are just putting  the best sailors they can find aboard.  China is to be congratulated for bringing newbies into the sport.

One of their most remarkable new sailors is a 35 year old woman, named Summer,  who was on the helm of a Yngling for the 2008 Olympics in Bejing.  They placed 8th in that event.  She has married a sail maker (TC, Todd Cunningham) for Doyle Sails who is making sails for the Korea Team.  She has not been aboard a 45 for a race yet but is being groomed for the helm position.  She has 10 years of 470 sailing followed by being a floater crew aboard an Extreme 40.  She is tall for a Chinese woman at 172 cm and weighs in at mere 62 kg.

The two met in Bejing when her spinnaker measured just 12 mm too wide at the shoulder for her Yngling in the Olympics.

One can hope for the best for her.  She is the only female sailor on any of the ACWS teams.  This boat requires some serious fitness and strength and the helm is the only potential position for most women.

Nationalities of the teams:
There are only three of the 11 boats that have a 50% of country for the team on board.  Noted with an *

USA:  Two boats, both from Oracle, representing and defending the AC for the Golden Gate Yacht Club
SWE:  Two boats, both from Artemis Racing, representing Sweden and  are the Challenger of Record.
ITA:  Two boats, both from Lunna Rossa, from Italy * (Swordfish)
KOR:  One boat, from Team Korea
CHN:  One boat from Team China
FRA:  One boat from Energy Team*
ETZ:  One boat from Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ)*
GBR:  One boat from Ben Ainsley Racing (BAR) (sponsored by JP Morgan)

Only the two boat ACWS teams above and ETNZ are building 72’ boats for the 2013 Louis Vuitton Challenger Series (August)  and the America’s Cup (September).  Each team is allowed to build 2 boats with a total of 12 wing sections.  For more on this, see my blog about the AC 72 development.  Korea has entered the contest but has not started building their 72’ boat as of this date.

NATIONALITY: The history of this America’s Cup clause

Published on April 28th, 2013 | by Editor
By John Longley – Grinder on Australia II
The plea for a return to nationality in the America’s Cup is a recurring thread on Scuttlebutt, and it is always interesting to restate why we are where we are on this matter.
Most America’s Cup fans would know that prior to the Second World War, the yachts were mainly crewed by professionals and that nationality was not an issue, particularly as many of the crews were British and Scandinavian fisherman. Arguably the first Corinthian crew was that of Tommy Sopwith’s Endeavour in the 1934 Match, which was mainly crewed by amateurs, after his professional crew struck for more money.
With the post war revival of the competition, it seemed that nationality came into being more by default than by any demand from the New York Yacht Club (NYYC) as Defender. Why would anyone want to sail for any other country than your own? No one, or very few, were being paid, and the prime motivation was to represent your country.
It was Australian Alan Bond who broke the mould in the 1977 Match. In the 1970′s, the Congressional Cup was the premier Match Racing event in the world. In fact, Match Racing was almost totally a U.S. discipline with most of the top Match Racers being American.
As a lead up to the first Bond challenge in 1974, a crew was sent to the Congressional Cup with 1972 Dragon Olympic gold medallist John Cuneo at the helm. We came last, and I still have my copy of “Race Your Boat Right” by Arthur Knapp Jr, which was awarded with great pomp by Arthur to those who did so, to prove it.
We did not do much better in 1977 with Noel Robins at the helm, although as I have only one copy of Arhur’s book, I guess we did not come last. So Alan pondered what to do.
“Why don’t we sign up an American Match Racer,” mused Alan? “There are no rules to say we can’t.”
Hence one Andy Rose came onboard our team. Andy was one of the new hotshots in the Match Racing world and, and as he was a Californian, he wasn’t a real American… at least not from the NYYC’s point of view anyway (just joking).
Suddenly we could play the game, and although Courageous still beat us 4-0, it was a slight lack of upwind speed that was our problem, and not our lack of Match Racing skill.
The NYYC did not approve of this at all, and closed the loophole by writing an interpretation to the Deed Of Gift that demanded that all crews be nationals of the country of the challenging yacht club.
And so it was until the 2003 Match when the Kiwis changed the Deed to remove the Nationality clause. It may have been that the Kiwis wanted to maximise the number of Challengers for commercial reasons, and with a nationality rule the Swiss were not going to be able compete, but I believe the main drive for relaxing the rules came from a shift from Corinthian sailor to professional.
Sailors were starting to make a living out of sailing in the America’s Cup, and if they were to be able to get the best deal from their prospective employer, they needed to be able to offer their wares on an open market.
Today there are Australians sailing on all of the current America’s Cup syndicates although there hasn’t been an Australian Challenger since 1995. The Kiwis, Spaniards and Brits are everywhere as well. If it had not been so, I doubt there would have ever been a Swiss, or Japanese Challenge, and the Chinese would most likely never be back.
I too yearn for the days of National-based Challenges. But to wind the clock back to the 12 metre era is both impractical and arguably not in the best interests of the future of the Event, as it will exclude countries who do not have home grown experience in this strangest of competitions.
However, I do think that partial solutions should be explored.
For example, maybe a certain percentage of the crew could be required to be Nationals. The Australian Basketball professional league has such a system in that it only allows two non-nationals per team. I can see no reason why this would not be viable. You can, for example, always train up trimmers, although I acknowledge it would be hard to train grinders as they are simply born with their incredible skills.

A couple of notes on the 45’ boats: 

These boats are built in New Zealand and cost $1 million each, not counting the headsails and are intended to be a practice platform for the teams making a run at the America’s Cup in 2013.  There is nothing scheduled for the AC 45 fleet past the two Italian venues of Naples and Venice but rumors abound.  Mentioned new venues for next year were Katar, New York, Auckland, and the Bahamas.  Negotiations continue and apparently there are two that are fairly close to being announced.

Green Comm, which was a Spanish team in the San Diego ACWS sold it’s boat to Oracle and that boat is now the Red Bull Youth boat.

Ben Ainsley’s boat (BAR) is the old Aleph boat from the 2011-2012 series.

These boats can hang about on moorings very easily but Energy Team had a fright when their boat broke loose and went walkabout on it’s own on SF Bay.  It departed, apparently, around 10:30 PM on a windless night and was discovered at 3:30 AM over at Treasure Island across the pond from Pier 32 where all the teams were based for this event.  No significant damage beyond a bit of hull scraping which was polished UP and all was good.  This Energy team must be full of good luck! 

Where the fleet goes after the AC in 2013 is UP in the air.  They have taken 'stadium sailing' to a new level thanks to Live Line and all the TV graphics.  One design racing is proving very popular.  Match racing, not so much.  Will the AC be a fleet race(s) once again?  Leave a comment if you can.

No comments:

Post a Comment