The islands of Bermuda are buzzing with activity. Roads are repaved, buildings spruced up, extra docks are built and the team bases are like fortresses. Four team bases are up and running; the last two will be ready in the next month.
Cup racing is less than 100 days away. More than ever, it has become a technology race. The America’s Cup World Series, sailed in 2015 and 2016, gave a first glimpse of the strength of the six competing teams. Those fleet races were sailed in 45-ft one-design catamarans. The teams then trained in 45-ft test boats. In January and February 2017 they all launched their 50-ft race boats.
Spies are everywhere, and testing and training go on day and night. Who has the best control of the boat? Who has made the best design decisions? There are too many variables, and too little time remains to test them all.
“We have come a long way since the boats that we used in San Francisco in 2013,” says one of the designers of the Artemis Racing team. “But we have barely scratched the surface of this kind of sailing.”
Team Emirates New Zealand and Team Oracle USA launched their boats on the same day. “This is the boat we’re using to win the America’s Cup,” announced Jimmy Spithill, skipper for defenders Team Oracle USA, on February 14.
The footage from New Zealand certainly stirred things up on Bermuda. On five boats the hydraulic system is pressurized by grinders, using their massive arms. The Kiwis chose a different approach: The four grinders use their legs and pedal pressure into the system. “We also looked at using the legs, but decided against it,” says a Team Oracle engineer. “It takes too long to get from a cycling position across the trampoline and back to cycling again.” Xabier Fernandez, wing trimmer for the British Land Rover BAR team says, “I think they are very brave to make this choice. Time will tell if they were right.”
Peter Durhager, liaison between the AC Event Authority and the Bermudian government, says, “We are proud to host the Cup here. The Great Sound is like a natural amphitheater with great sailing conditions year round. We are happy that we’ve been able to offer many Bermudian children the chance to learn to sail and to compete in all sorts of boats. At the same time, their role models zip around in the fastest boats on the planet.”
The races will take place from late May to the end of June. In addition to the Challenger Series and the actual racing for the Cup, there are some exciting extra regattas. The Red Bull Youth America’s Cup will give young talents a chance to compete for positions on America’s Cup boats for the 36th edition. For the first time in many years, seven J Class boats will be competing, next to a regatta for modern superyachts.
We’ll have more about the America’s Cup in the April issue of Latitude 38.
While they didn’t get much recognition from the official press, a big congratulations is due Greg Slyngstad and crew of the Seattle-based Bieker 53 catamaran Fujin. We’ll let Greg explain why:
“Just finished the last race of the Heineken Regatta. We ended with 1, 1, 4, 1 for first place in the Offshore Multihull class. In the third race, our halyard release line broke, so we had to sail a half mile past the leeward mark before we got our kite down. Awesome crew work and great conditions all regatta.
“We made it around the island in 2 hours, 17 seconds, which was 10 minutes faster than the monohull record. We have some great video which we’ll post in a couple days.”
It’s true that Fujin was tied with the new Morrelli-Melvin 66 R Six, but easily won on the tie-breaker of having three first-place finishes. Fujin also bested three Gunboat 60s.
By the way, the around-St. Martin monohull record was set this year by the Volvo 70 SFS, giving you an idea of Fujin’s speed.
Congratulations to Greg, who had the balls to commission a most unusual design, and who has had to endure a dismasting and several regattas where the light wind was not suited to his cat. Next up for Greg and Fujin? The Voiles de St. Barth and, in July, the Los Angeles-to-Hawaii Transpac.
It’s the latest in social networking — not! Actually, Latitude 38 has been inviting skippers and prospective crew to Crew List Parties since 1980. During that time thousands of connections have been made. The Crew Lists themselves were printed in the magazine from 1980 through 2007; in 2008 we put them online and dropped the listing fee. Nothing beats meeting prospects in person, however, and the Crew Parties themselves have changed very little with the advances in technology.
Our big Spring Crew List Party, for racers, cruisers and daysailors, is coming up this week on Wednesday, March 8. As they have for many years, the friendly folks at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Yacht Club will host from 6 to 9 p.m. We’ll collect your cash at the door: $5 for people 25 and under (bring ID) and $7 for everyone else. The price of admission includes a buffet of munchies, color-coded and information-rich name tags, and door-prize drawings.
GGYC will be selling drinks at the bar. Sal Sanchez from Sal’s Inflatable Services will inflate an emergency liferaft right in the middle of the party, always a highlight of the evening. Don Ahrens and Rich Pipkin from the Yacht Racing Association will be on hand to answer questions about racing. Tony Gilbert from Club Nautique will share information about learning to sail and chartering. In case you’re not one of the many lucky prize winners, we’ll be selling Latitude 38 logowear there too.