Talks Begin on New America’s Cup Boat Design.

According to BMW ORACLE, the success of the next America’s Cup will depend largely on the boats used. How they look, how they sail and how they deal with conditions so as not to delay television broadcasts will have a big impact on the future of the trophy. The America’s Cup should be one of the classes that drives innovation – that allows the creation of boats like Alinghi 5 and the BMW ORACLE’s awesome trimaran, and so as announced by Russell Coutts in Rome a few weeks ago, the best yacht designers in the world are going to come together to create the ultimate America’s Cup rule.

19 designers met in Valencia yesterday, at a meeting chaired by BMW ORACLE Racing’s design coordinator, Ian Burns. 10 nationalities were represented, with winning records in every level rating class from Quarter Tonners to TP52s as well as the Volvo Ocean Race, Jules Verne Trophy, classic races such as the Fastnet and Sydney-Hobart and, the America’s Cup.

Central to the deliberations was whether to develop a monohull or a multihull for the 34th America’s Cup. The predominance of America’s Cup teams racing in monohull series like the Audi Med Cup and RC44 series suggest that teams have a preference for one hull, but nevertheless BMW ORACLE have asked for both multihull and monohull concept options.

Two different multihulls (20m and 25m LOA) were discussed as was one monohull (up to 27m LOA). The new concepts were conceived by eminent designers Bruce Nelson and Morelli/Melvin, creators of previous America’s Cup winning yachts. High performance is fundamental to all three concepts. The monohull proposal will give significantly faster speeds upwind and downwind compared to boats used in 2007.

Both Burns and Coutts are talking about ‘the fans’ – a group of stakeholders who were consistently ignored in the last edition of the cup. Burns said:

“The America’s Cup is the pinnacle of our sport, so the boats should be physically demanding to race well and produce fast, competitive racing to engage new fans.”

Coutts added:

“The teams want a new boat; the fans deserve one too.”

As outlined at the press conference in Rome, the requirements for all three concepts are:

  • fast, dynamic and close racing
  • high levels of athleticism required to race the boats to their optimum
  • advanced, efficient and cost-effective technologies
  • logistical efficiency to facilitate transport to a regular series of regattas
  • distinctive to the America’s Cup
  • versatility, enabling racing in any venue in winds from 5-35 knots

The America’s Cup is lucky that some in the media still remember 2007, because based on the TV debacle that was the most recent America’s Cup, most television companies would be quite justified in never showing the sport on TV again. Hours and hours of commentators filling while officials raised and lowered flags with names like AP and tried the patience of the most ardent fan. Now that BMW ORACLE have to shop the rights, they have realised that things have to change.

Coutts reiterated his points from the recent press conference:

“Delays and postponements kill interest. America’s Cup boats shouldn’t be the last to start racing and the first to quit whilst other classes are still racing. They also need to be designed from the outset to unleash the full potential of television.”

The World Sailing Teams Association has been asked if it would manage the rule drafting and publication of the new class rule will be no later than 30th September.

More America’s Cup News. . .