Kyle Langford talks about the Oracle America’s Cup program

By Roger McMillan,
Kyle Langford, the wing trimmer on Oracle Team USA when it won the America’s Cup in 2013, is mainsail trimmer on Oman Air at the Extreme Series in Cardiff. In an exclusive interview with mysailing, he talked about the Extreme 40s and Oracle’s progress towards defending the Cup in 2017.

The Cardiff Act is Kyle’s third on board the Oman Air Extreme 40 and he said it’s a great experience that translates directly to America’s Cup sailing.

“It’s quite similar to the America’s Cup World Series (in AC45s) in many ways,” he said. “It’s fast paced and very physical and you’re making instant decisions because of the close racing.

“There hasn’t been a lot on as far as Oracle is concerned, just a foiling camp at Lake Macquarie recently, so this (the Extreme Series) has been good.”

Kyle will sail for the rest of the Extreme season, including the final Act in Sydney in December, and has also done an RC44 regatta with team mate Tom Slingsby, but from the beginning of 2015 the focus becomes totally on the America’s Cup.

“We’ve all bought Moths and we’ll do another foiling camp in San Francisco in November with the aim of all competing at the Moth Worlds in February,” Kyle said. “Apart from Tom (Slingsby) we’re all pretty useless, so we’ve got a bit of work to do.”

He said that the Moth was a good challenge because it was all about balance and they were learning new skills, which would be of value in the bigger boats. It was also proving to be a good team-building exercise as they all help each other to improve their boat set-up and handling.

Wing Trimming
Kyle joined the Oracle squad late, only 18 months before the 34th Match – and most of the wing development on the AC72 had already been done. So he is looking forward to the development of the new AC62 because he will have input into the trimming systems from day one.

“The wings are one design but the control systems are open,” he explained. “It’s good to be able to offer input into the design of all the systems on the boat. Last time all I could really do was fine-tune, because the actual controls were already decided.”

One of the notable things about the two design approaches on the AC72s was that the challenger and defender had radically different methods of controlling the four “panels” on their wings, but the speed result was similar.
“If Glenn (Ashby) had trimmed the Oracle wing and I had trimmed the ETNZ wing, we both would have had to work things out all over again, because they were so different,” Kyle said.

Even Challenge
Asked about the teams who have lodged challenges for 2017, Kyle said there was a lot of depth and that none of them could be written off.

“We always know Team New Zealand will be strong and Luna Rossa have started a lot earlier this time and have their base set up. Ben’s got a good team and the French have done a lot of sailing in all sorts of boats. And then there’s Artemis with Nath (Outteridge), no one’s going to be easy this time.”

Kyle said that the Oracle sailing team is almost complete, with just one more name to be added to give them two AC45 squads. He thinks a key ingredient for Oracle will be their total focus on the America’s Cup for three years, without distractions like the Olympics, which will come into play for teams like Artemis (Outteridge and Jensen) and ETNZ (Burling and Tuke).

“We will be 100% focused on the Cup for the whole three years,” he said, sounding an ominous warning to the challengers.



AC 45  8 21 12  138036 ac33

For me, the America’s Cup has become a parallel universe; so removed from sailing that it is really set apart. As I have stated before; I had been told the day that Hamilton Yacht club announced it’s intention to challenge and would be the challenger of record, that it was only a straw challenger and would not be there in the end. Seems someone knew what they were saying.


America’s Cup: Entries close but 2017 line-up remains mystery
1:04 AM Sat 9 Aug 2014 


‘Golden Gate Yacht Club – Defender the the 35th America’s Cup’    © Richard Gladwell    Click Here to view large photo

America’s Cup organisers issued an innocuous statement after the close of entries for the 35th America’s Cup.

A strong line-up of teams has submitted entries to race in the 35th America’s Cup ahead of the initial deadline of midnight on August 8th.

America’s Cup organizers are now working through the second stage of the entry process with each of these teams. This is expected to finish by August 20th.

Following the confirmation of entries there will be a press conference to introduce the teams and their skippers in London on September 9th.

Entries closed just before midnight on August 8th in San Francisco. The statement did not specify the number of entries received, and seemed to have been written ahead of the close of entries.

Only one team, Team New Zealand, have announced that they have lodged an entry.

Four other teams, Luna Rossa (Italy), Artemis Racing (SWE), Ben Ainslie Racing (GBR) and the Franck Cammas led Team France attended Competitor Meetings in Los Angeles and London.

Next step in the process is a vetting of the teams for compliance with the Protocol and also the Deed of Gift the 19th-century document which governs the conduct of the America’s Cup.

Given that Team New Zealand represents a Club that is a former America’s Cup Trustee, and are on their ninth America’s Cup in just under 30 years, the team are expected to have few problems in the vetting process.

Luna Rossa and Artemis Racing being previous Challengers are also expected to fly through.

Ben Ainslie Racing may face a more intensive level of investigation, given that they have announced that they will be challenging through a new yacht club Yacht Squadron Racing, described as a club affiliated to the Royal Yacht Squadron. The latter was the host club for the original race for the 100 Guinea Cup, won by the schooner America, and was renamed the America’s Cup.

New yachts club have a very chequered history in the recent America’s Cup, sometimes not meeting the requirements of the Deed of Gift. One of those requirements is that the Club must have held an annual regatta on the sea or arm of the sea. YSR organised the racing for the Panerai British Classic Week in July. Whether that event is sufficient for the Deed of Gift is yet to be determined.

Team France will sail under the burgee of the Yacht Club de France, founded in 1867 under the patronage of Emperor Napoleon III. It is one of the most-prestigious yacht clubs in France, and their 12metre yacht, France 3, sailed in the 1983 Louis Vuitton Cup.

No date has been set for the America’s Cup Match, neither has a Venue been named. The supporting regattas being the America’s Cup World Series are also yet to have their venues named along with dates.

The close of entries, and the announcement of accepted Challengers sets in place a train of events and decisions to be made under the terms of the negotiated Protocol.

Competitors have to meet to select a Regatta Director, on the basis of the preference of a simple majority. ACEA

Once the Accepted Challengers have been named, the organisers will need to determine whether a Qualifying Series is required – specified in the Protocol to be necessary if there are more than four Challengers. Under the Protocol, that series must be held in a different venue from the Match and will involve additional expense and logistical complication.

The Host City, Venue and Dates of the 35th America’s Cup must be named by December 31, 2014 but is expected in October 2014.

The Protocol does allow the Golden Gate Yacht Club to accept additional late entries at their discretion.


by Richard Gladwell/


While this is an official announcement from the Australian challenger of record for the next America’s Cup; I had been told the day that they announced, while I was in San Francisco that the Australian challenge was a straw challenge and would not ultimately be the challenger of record. I believe that Luna Rossa will receive this honor.

America’s Cup: Iain Murray explains reasons for Australian withdrawal
‘Team Australia AC45 – Sydney, Australia’    Andrea Francolini    Click Here to view large photo
Hamilton Island Yacht Club CEO, Iain Murray told Sail-World that the decision to withdraw from the 35th America’s Cup was only made in the last 48 hours.

‘This challenge has grown to the point where the gap between the commercial side and the competitive costs’ are out of HIYC’s comfort zone

‘The Cup campaign has grown into a far bigger cost and potential risk, with which they are not comfortable.’

Team Australia’s CEO, Iain Murray – in his previous role as 2013 America’s Cup Regatta Director –  Chuck Lantz ©   Click Here to view large photo

‘We’ve had a detailed assessment of the campaign, and have had expert advice from a lot of expert companies that deal in the commercial area. Even though I think the commercial feeling is very positive towards the America’s Cup, the timeline is the killer in this Cup.

‘Sponsors want to know where the venues are, and the dates. The gap gets pretty wide trying to get the sponsors to commit against the timeline of the expenditure.’

Murray’s comments come after the shock withdrawal of the Challenger of Record for the 35th Match – the second time in the last two America’s Cups that this has happened.

Protocol process is clear
Under the Deed of Gift, the 19th-century document that governs the ongoing conduct of the America’s Cup, the first Challenger to file a letter of Challenge with the Defender becomes what is known as the Challenger of Record.

That yacht club then undertakes the process of sorting out the terms of the Match with the Defending Club, in this case the Golden Gate Yacht Club of San Francisco. Those terms are known as the Protocol, which runs until the America’s Cup Match has been sailed, when the process starts again. The Protocol contains the provision for there to be more than one Challenger accepted, and they sail off in a Challenger Selection Series better known as the Louis Vuitton Cup.

The Challenging process is carefully arranged so that a friendly challenge is accepted, under pre-arranged circumstances. In this case, the Challenge was made by a business representative of the Oatleys soon after the end of the 19th race in the 2013 America’s Cup. A second, back up challenge is believed to have been filed at the time.

The club challenged with a 90ft monohull for a match to be sailed in early September 2017. All aspects of the Match, including the boat, can be varied by Mutual Consent between the Challenging and Defending Clubs in the Protocol.

If the Challenger of Record drops out the mantle falls to the next Challenge received. Overall there is little effect, at this stage, other than the number of Challengers reduces by one. During the Match as one Challenger of Record is eliminated, they are replaced by the next entered team who is still alive in the regatta.

The primary advantage of the role is the ability to negotiate a Protocol and to have the power of veto in any changes. The initial Challenger of Record has never won the America’s Cup, and the role is widely regarded as being a Poisoned Chalice.

The Protocol for the 35th match was announced on June 3, eight months after the conclusion of the previous Match.

Significant issues between two groups
During the negotiation there were significant points of disagreement between then Challenger and Defender being the split venues, the media rights, costs. Those still remain plus the lack of oversight by the International Sailing Federation.

Murray would not confirm that two Challenges have been lodged to date. Sail-World’s sources say that Luna Rossa and Artemis Racing lodged Challenges ahead of the August 8, deadline set in the Protocol.

Iain Murray, Matt Belcher (skipper) and Sandy Oatley – Team Australia launch –  © Andrea Francolini Photography   Click Here to view large photo

Murray said the decision to not proceed further in this America’s Cup regatta was made only in the last 48 hours, and after the Competitors Meeting held on Los Angeles last weekend. That meeting was called by Hamilton Island Yacht Club, not by the Defender.

‘The Competitors meeting was the last stage in a world trip,’ he said. ‘We were initially focused on commercial opportunities. When we arrived back in Australia, we reporting on that exercise and the Competitors Meeting. The Board took the position they have just announced.’

Murray says most of the key points from the Competitors Meeting are already reported.

‘I have to say that I thought it was one of the best meetings we have had of all the teams. I thought there was a very good collegiate atmosphere, along with the desire and will to work together. More so than I have seen in the last three years, which was great.

The Challengers are looking to work with the Defender for them to understand all the difficulties that are in front of all the competitors.

‘All the Challenger teams are looking for commercial support – even the ones with substantial people behind them.

Murray mentioned the issues surrounding the concept of a separate Qualifying series at a separate venue, if there are more than four Challengers. The preliminary series has been a contentious issue, on a number of fronts.

‘I don’t think that anyone favors the split venue. The split venue is a difficult piece. With a large number of Challengers, it makes some sense. But it certainly adds cost to the campaign.

‘There’s a lot of Catch-22’s in the way this America’s Cup is set up.

‘Teams want to know what they are doing before they commit, and the defender wants teams to commit before he can do his commercial side. It’s a difficult situation for everyone. The numbers, the fees and commitments that are at stake are substantial.’

Relationship with Coutts:
Murray would not be drawn on his working relationship with Russell Coutts, who is currently heading up the America’s cup Events Authority (ACEA) I spoke to him yesterday for the first time in three months.’

Russell Coutts leads the ACEA charged with Event Organisation for the 35th America’s Cup –  ACEA – Photo Gilles Martin-Raget_©   Click Here to view large photo

‘I am sure Russell is disappointed we’ve withdrawn.’

We have spoken to most of the teams, and they are all disappointed. As I said, there was a very good feeling of strength between the Challengers at the Meeting and wanting to do the right thing by the event. It’s a bit sad for that to be diluted. Everyone has seen and known this group for a long time and know that they take their yachting very seriously. This hasn’t been an easy decision.’

To many observers there appears to be a chasm of aspiration between Challengers and Defender.

Coutts seems intent on creating what is becoming known as the Commercial Cup. The collateral damage seems to be at the expense of the Challenger interests.

Murray won’t be drawn to comment.

Having laid the groundwork for a successful event formula in the 34th America’s Cup, with the change to the AC72 wingsailed multihull, the stadium course at San Francisco, and the fresh regular breeze, why does Coutts want to walk away and start something new?

Murray doesn’t have the answer.

‘I think that view is shared by a lot of people. There is no doubt that San Francisco is a great place to sail. Can the commercial issues be overcome there? I don’t know.’

‘Obviously to run these events, they cost a lot of money. But you have to have competitors who can reach their financial goals as well. In the next edition of the America’s Cup, I think most people expected a progression from San Francisco. I am not sure if that is what we have got right now.’

Second AC62 not raised
Murray denies that the Competitors Meeting resolved to send a letter to ACEA outlining the concerns of the group. ‘No letter has been sent yet. ACEA was represented at the meeting, and they heard it all first hand,’ he adds.

The vexed issue of a second AC62 for the Challenger teams was not discussed at the Competitors Meeting. ‘It was never put on the table,’ says Murray. ‘I don’t think any of the Challengers think that it is a materially damaging position to be in. Not one Challenger has said to me ‘why did you do that?’

‘It has been discussed fairly extensively how the Defenders can use their second AC62 and for what they can use it.’

‘The issue was not raised at the Competitors meeting, and I think that is indicative of how big a deal it is to them,’ Murray concludes.

A surprise packet in the venue list for the 35th America’s cup has been the inclusion of the tax haven of Bermuda, a British Overseas Territory located 650 miles from the US coastline.

While many were surprised to see the island on the initial list of four venues, even more surprising was to see it make the final two. Coutts’ decision to keep Bermuda in the viewfinder has caused real concern amongst most, if not all Challengers.

‘Certainly a concern of ours is that the opportunities to commercialize around Bermuda are certainly more difficult,’ Murray explains. ‘It’s on the opposite side of the world from where we are, and the issues start from there. We haven’t been able to find companies that are excited about Bermuda.’

The Challengers would be happy with a return to San Francisco as a venue for the 35th America’s Cup. –  Chris Cameron-ETNZ©   Click Here to view large photo

Whether Team Australia/Hamilton YC are the only team to exit the America’s Cup remains to be seen. Six Challengers attended the Competitors meeting in Los Angeles – UK, Australia, France, Italy New Zealand and Sweden. The Defender USA was also present along with ACEA.

‘There were six teams, at the meeting plus Oracle. We’ve spoken with the Russians and the Chinese from last time – who are different from the Chinese we have all heard rumours about. I don’t know of any others,’ Murray told

The transition to a new Challenger of Record is expected to be a carefully managed process as prescribed by the Protocol.

‘We have given 90 day’s notice of our intention to withdraw as we are required to do under the Protocol,’ says Murray.

Given that there is either a backup Challenge believed to be from a Canadian club or either Kungliga Svenska Segel Sällskapet (Artemis Racing – SWE) or Yacht Club Italiano (Luna Rossa – ITA), the new Challenger of Record will be named by the Defender, Golden Gate Yacht Club.

That club will then be invited to sign the existing Protocol, or negotiate a new one. KSSS, on 2013 form, are widely regarded as a soft touch for Golden Gate YC, while Luna Rossa will be difficult.

‘I think it is time for all the parties of interest, Defenders and Challengers, to all work together for the best outcome,’ is Murray’s signature comment. 

by Richard Gladwell/



The ‘San Diego Plan’ to host the 35th America’s Cup

The venue search for the 35th America’s Cup has narrowed the finalists to Bermuda, Chicago and San Diego. The leader among the venues appears to be San Diego, which has both consistent weather and event experience. The plan is for the racing to be held inside San Diego Bay.

“San Diego clicks a lot of boxes,” remarked defense CEO Russell Coutts. “The boats might be maneuvering every minute and a half. It would be a highly technical course in the AC 62 and would lay out quite well for spectators and sponsor fulfillment.”

The ‘San Diego Plan’ uses two downtown cruise ship terminals for the activity hub. The teams will be based at the B Street Pier while the adjacent Broadway Pier will be the public village. The start and finish would be off the Broadway Pier, with the course extending from Coronado Bridge to Harbor Island.

Involved in the San Diego bid is Troy Sears, who helped form Sailing Events Association (SEA) San Diego to promote major sailboat racing events in San Diego for the benefit of the local economy. Troy provides an update on the selection process…

What gives San Diego the confidence to host the America’s Cup?

The leadership of the Port of San Diego understands they have some very valuable assets, such as the B Street Pier and the Broadway Pier, and have made the commitment to maintain them. These piers are in great condition and well suited for a variety of uses.

As a result, to host the America’s Cup, we won’t have large capital costs needed to make improvements. Our infrastructure is ready to go. We can formulate a plan that does not require investment. The Broadway Pavilion is a fantastic facility for hosting events, and it is ready to go. This is a substantial difference from the other cities.

Additionally, we have hosted the America’s Cup before. The event has been here in ’88, ’92 and ’95, with the event in ’95 ending in the black. We know the 2017 event has to financially perform, and we understand how to make that happen.

Explain the sailing venue.

What we propose to do with the race course, positioning it in the Bay, has already proven itself successful when we hosted an RC44 class regatta and the AC World Series in 2011. Through those events, it was demonstrated that San Diego Bay is a tremendous venue for stadium sailing.

The natural landscape brings people close to the event, and it will be the harbor that defines the course. This will make it very easy for fans to recognize that when boats get to the edge of the course, they will need to turn. If boats don’t turn, they will hit the shoreline. The boundaries will be very understandable.

Additionally, the public is going to have a great view of the team bases. Watching the boats get launched, and seeing the wings get raised and lowered, is quite a show, and something the public missed out on during the 2013 America’s Cup.

What are some of the other advantages for San Diego?

We may not have strong winds on a regular basis, but we always have wind in the afternoons. The consistency of our conditions will insure the schedule will not be affected; racing will happen when it is supposed to happen. So with minimal investment needed, and solid political support, I like our chances.

Why does the venue selection take so much time?

The process takes time to generate local support once a city has been notified that their bid has been accepted. You have to educate government; you have to educate the community entities that you hope will provide financial support. That’s not a one day, one week, one month process.

Since we were notified at the start of the year, the organizational group in San Diego, which is lead by the Port of San Diego, has been working very diligently. Additionally, all the community supporters, lead by SEA San Diego, are putting in a full-time effort as well. From our perspective, we don’t see the process dragging on. Quite the opposite, we feel we need all this time to fulfill the requirements and meet the deadlines.

These events are complicated. They require a huge commitment by local cities. The assets must get lined up, such as the piers, along with the services such as fire and police. Time is also needed to sort out the city codes that may impact the organizational plan.

We understand that the challengers need to know the venue location, and every sense I have gotten is that everyone is pushing as hard as possible to make that happen.

What kind of support is needed to host the event?

While we are pursuing local corporate support, what the America’s Cup Event Authority is looking for is broad support. They want to insure that our community is behind the event and will support it. From the political sector, the public sector, and the business sector, San Diego has demonstrated loud and clear that this support is in place.

When the America’s Cup had previously been in San Diego, it was not a hugely popular event. What makes the City think the 35th America’s Cup will be an attraction?

The previous events were held 3 miles off the coast. The team bases were scattered around the harbor and curtained off. It was pretty hard for people to know what was going on. And even when you went out on the ocean to watch, the motion of the ocean was not comfortable for a lot of people. However, the event has now evolved, and this new model in the Bay, in front of the City, and accessible from shore, is a huge change. The interest already is phenomenal.

Note: The field of finalists will be narrowed to two venues by the end of June. The final venue is to be selected no later than December 31, 2014.


It seems that the America’s Cup is moving away from the sailing public more and more. The people I speak to hardly seem to care. It is a parallel universe.

– See more at:




America’s Cup: Why not Newport?

Published on June 9, 2014

Russell Coutts, the CEO of America’s Cup champion Oracle Team USA, announced in January that officials were talking with other venues about hosting the 35th America’s Cup in 2017 because San Francisco officials hadn’t offered sufficient terms to automatically return.

Among the immediate candidates was Newport, RI, which had been closely considered for the 2013 event, and had been home to the event from 1930 to 1983. The venue had several attractive attributes: passionate fans, summer seabreeze, and dedicated facilities.

However, when Coutts announced last week to BBC News that the list had been narrowed to four cities, and Newport wasn’t one of them, we got curious what happened. Brad Read, Executive Director of Sail Newport, which coordinated the bid on behalf of the state and Sail Newport, Rhode Island’s Public Sailing Center, sheds light on situation.

“While disappointed, we remain optimistic to once again be a host site for an America’s Cup World Series event in 2016. We appreciate Russell Coutts and the rest of the America’s Cup team taking the time to evaluate our bid. However, the America’s Cup is a complex event, both on and off the water. Operating under a very tight time frame imposed by the AC Event Authority, we were not comfortable engaging commercial partners with the information that was available in the timeframe required.”

While the 35th America’s Cup match will be held elsewhere, Read is hopeful that Newport will remain in the running to host a preliminary America’s Cup World Series event as the teams prepare for the 35th America’s Cup. The extremely successful America’s Cup World Series event in June 2012 proved that Rhode Island, Newport, and Narragansett Bay can host a yachting event of the highest magnitude.

“With the support of the State of Rhode Island, Fort Adams State Park has been developed into a premiere shore side venue for grand-prix maritime competition,” said Read, noting that Rhode Island Sound and Narragansett Bay are famous around the world for their spectacular sailing conditions.

“Next spring we will host the only North American stopover of the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race. This event will bring hundreds of sailors, team support staff, race officials and journalists to Newport, along with tens of thousands of sailing and non-sailing fans daily to our wonderful Fort Adams State Park. With the continued cooperation of the Governor’s office and the State Legislature – without which none of this would be possible – we believe we can continue to attract top sailing events, and their considerable economic impact, to the Ocean State.

“The America’s Cup is a part of Newport’s history and vice versa. We will remain in contact with ACEA in hopes that Newport will be considered for an America’s Cup World Series event and to keep open the possibility of hosting an America’s Cup match in the future.”


“We’re going to have our work cut out for us, that’s for sure.”

So says ORACLE TEAM USA skipper Jimmy Spithill as he assesses the competition for the 35th America’s Cup.

Today, the Protocol was released, which defines the rules, format and commercial regulations for the 35th America’s Cup. Entries open on June 9th and close August 8th, 2014, giving prospective teams two months to enter.

See what the teams are saying

The Class Rule for the new AC62 yacht, which has already been shared with teams in draft format, will be issued in the coming days, prior to the entry period opening.

Highlights of the Protocol include:

* A three year racing program from 2015 to 2017 with every race counting towards qualification and/or points in the final America’s Cup Match

* At least six America’s Cup World Series events per year in 2015 and 2016 to be raced in the AC45 class. All teams have an opportunity to host an event in their home country

* An America’s Cup Qualifiers series in 2017 involving all teams, with a bonus point in the America’s Cup Match at stake

America’s Cup Challenger Playoffs for the top four challenger teams to emerge from the Qualifiers

* The America’s Cup Match, featuring the defender, ORACLE TEAM USA against the top challenger. The first team to win 7 points will win the America’s Cup

* Up to two Youth America’s Cup events providing a pathway for young sailors to join the top rank of professionals

* The new AC62 yacht – a foiling, wing sail catamaran sailed by 8 crew – to be raced in all events in 2017

* A crew nationality rule requiring at least 25% of the AC62 crew to be nationals of the country of their challenge

The Protocol was negotiated between defending champion ORACLE TEAM USA and its Golden Gate Yacht Club and Team Australia’s Hamilton Island Yacht Club, the Challenger of Record.

The 35th America’s Cup builds on the successful elements of the last America’s Cup – fast, exciting racing in foiling multihulls that is challenging for the best sailors in the world and appealing to spectators.

“We are convinced the 35th America’s Cup will surpass previous events in almost every way: more challengers, amazing new boats and a competition structure that will engage and enthrall people over a three year period,” said Mat Belcher, the skipper of Team Australia, the Challenger of Record.

For his part, Spithill is aware that a stronger group of challengers will make it that much more difficult for his team to hold on to the Cup.

“It’s the America’s Cup, so it’s not supposed to be easy, but our goal is to make it a three-peat,” says Spithill, who led his team to victory in 2010 and 2013. “It was so close last time. Battling back to win from being down 8-1 is something we will never forget and I expect it will be just as difficult this time.”

The entry period is open from June 9th to August 8th 2014.

Download the Protocol for the 35th America’s Cup


Gladwell’s Line: Has the America’s Cup lost its way?
7:57 AM Sun 18 May 2014 

‘How hard is it really for the America’s Cup to go back to San Francisco?’    Carlo Borlenghi/Luna Rossa©    Click Here to view large photo

The America’s Cup has taken another curious turn, with the news out late in the week that the America’s Cup Event Authority had approached Bermuda to stage the 35th America’s Cup.

That would move the regatta out of USA, and arguably be sailed in Britain, as the tiny island is a British Overseas Territory.

The Bermuda bid is clearly aimed at the commercialization of the America’s Cup, with scant regard for the dictates of the Deed of Gift.

With the Defenders attempting to take over the conduct of the Challenger Selection Series (formerly the Louis Vuitton Cup), and run the series of supporting regattas, one wonders where the next strange turn will come.

Certainly there does not seem to be any hurry to get a Protocol or Venue named for the event, already eight months have passed. The Protocol for the 34th America’s Cup was announced seven months after the conclusion of the 33rd Match – and that came off the back of a two and a half year Court case and the accompanying acrimony, which all but destroyed the event.

The Class rule for the new AC62 is in circulation. That is a good move. The new rule would seem to be a collaborative effort between the teams from the AC72 era, with the experiences being shared between two top design teams – who both got some things right and others wrong.

Without the Protocol, and more particularly without the Venue, the potential Challengers have no story to tell sponsors.

Both items should have been much easier after the success of the 34th America’s Cup.

The Protocol had been worked over and changed regularly. It was a living document, and while some may be uncomfortable with that approach, it is consistent with other sports which deal with issues on the fly and quickly effect change. Development of the new Class Rule has already been covered.

The Venue should have been a no-brainer off the back of the success of San Francisco. For sure there are local issues with authorities etc, but in its simplest form the America’s Cup is just a yacht race. There were no indications from the Port that a permit would not be approved after the last event. And a coming ready or not approach is often a better way to deal with bureaucracy, than seeking permission.

Current Challenger of Record principal Bob Oatley (left) with America’s Cup winner, Ernesto Bertarelli and wife Kristy, 2013 Audi Hamilton Island Race Week –  Belinda Rolland ©   Click Here to view large photo

After all, bureaucrats come and go, but the America’s Cup has been around for three centuries.

But even so a deal was on the table from San Francisco within the deadline set by GGYC.

Probably the most disconcerting issue is that going back to when the America’s Cup was held in Auckland, the San Francisco based teams were the most vociferous as to how the Cup should be run and managed.

Ernesto Bertarelli may have rubbed people up the wrong way in 2007, but he was able to create an event that had preliminary regattas, while the Louis Vuitton Cup and America’s Cup regattas produced a healthy surplus for the teams.

Off the back of the 2007 regatta in Valencia, he was properly taken to task for trying to acquire all Challenger rights, through the use of a sham Challenger of Record, and it was San Francisco’s Golden Gate Yacht Club, which became the champion of the challengers.

Many assumed after that legal era concluded that the Cup would be on track for some glorious years, with Golden Gate YC practicing what they had preached.

Bertarelli was portrayed as the villain of that America’s Cup saga, but it takes two to tango.

2012 Argo Group Gold Cup the 7th stage of the Alpari World Match Racing Tour sailed out of the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club –  © Talbot Wilson – Argo Group Gold Cup?nid=122244   Click Here to view large photo

Having taken the stance they had with the Swiss, Golden Gate YC had the responsibility to get the America’s Cup show to a level where it should be. For sure, people were forgiving that the process would initially take some time, and cut Golden Gate some slack in the lead up to 2013.

Generally Golden Gate lived up to expectations, getting the formula right, particularly with taking the event to the general public and enthusing a new, bigger group of fans.

An offer of four wharves for the teams was made within the December 31, 2013 deadline required by the Defenders and event organisers. Other space outside that are is available. The Defenders reaction was to kick a more extensive venue search projected at the time to take 11 more months. For what gain?

What is happening now, with six good teams lined up to challenge, but having to mark time, is inexcusable.

The delay over the venue announcement would seem to have no sound basis, save for local politics within San Francisco.

While Golden Gate play around trying to get a good formula better, they are burning off potential teams and sponsors. By the time the Defenders are ready to party, many of the Challengers will have expired.

The latest development in the search for an event venue is both perplexing and deeply concerning.


by Richard Gladwell



The New America’s Cup Cat

The next generation will look much like this 2013 generation challenger from New Zealand, but they’re a new breed

By Kimball Livingston Posted April 13, 2014

Gino Morrelli believes the next generation of America’s Cup catamarans will revolutionize upwind tactics. He foresees the boats foiling through tacks without slowing down, and if there is no price for tacking, that’s a new calculus, isn’t it? A new game.

Smaller, faster, safer. It’s quite a package that Morrelli is talking about, and he knows a bit. His firm of Morrelli & Melvin wrote the design rule for what we will call, for now, the AC62. That is, ten feet shorter than the AC72s of 2013 and shrunk appropriately in other dimensions as well. Add-in some one-design components, factor-in the fact that a lot of the design possibilities have already been explored—we know what the next generation will look like—and you have a boat that is cheaper to design and cheaper to build, even with amped-up technology. His partner Pete Melvin has been hard on the case.

At which point Morrelli adds the ultimate qualifier, “We can lower the cost to entry, but we can’t make it cheaper to win the America’s Cup.”

Write this on the board twenty-five times: An America’s Cup team will always spend whatever it can get.

I shared billing with Gino over the weekend for a program at Strictly Sail Pacific, which opened my window onto what’s coming next, with a little caution tape on the windowsill: “We finished our job about four weeks ago,” Morrelli told the audience. “In our last iteration, the boat was 62 feet, but now we’ve handed it over to Oracle and Russell and the boys to fuss it out with the Challenger of Record and Iain Murray. That is, the Aussies from Hamilton Island Yacht Club. Between them, a lot can happen. We’re now out of the loop, but something’s cooking . . . At some point they have to pull the trigger and publish the design rule and let people start working on the new boats, even if they don’t decide the venue until deep in the process.”

How can you design the boat if you don’t know the venue? Or if, as Larry Ellison once suggested, there could be more than one venue? Good question. Here we go—

Gino again: “One thing that was possible under the AC72 rule, but now is mandated, is a wing design that can be over-rotated to a negative angle of attack. You would do this at the top of the wing, so that instead of pushing the boat over, it’s actually pulling the boat up. Theoretically, if you’re bearing away around the weather mark in 30 knots, you can crank the wing inside out to get positive righting moment. You get a safer turn. The downside is that you’re inducing drag, which slows you down, so you’re going to have to learn how to actually do this. But it’s one way to build a big rig that will perform in San Diego but survive San Francisco.

“There are provisions in the new class rule to allow different wing sizes and jib sizes, but the ability to over-rotate the wing gives us a tool for sailing in a wide wind range with one wing.”

Early in the development of the original design rule for the AC72s, there were no restrictions on foiling surfaces. Restrictions were added at the insistence of the then-Challenger of Record, but we know now that the result was merely to make the boats trickier to design and less safe for the sailors.

This time out, Gino says, “We’ve got everybody to agree to take the brakes off foiling. The boats will foil by design. We’ll be able to actively change the angle of the rudder posts to adjust the angle of attack of the T-foils on the rudders—in 2013 we could make changes between races, not during a race—and the T-foils will be symmetrical, and bigger. This is part of what brings us to foiling tacks. You’ll have more chance to use low angles of attack to give you the highest glide speed through the tack. We’ll see who can glide to weather the farthest.”

This likewise opens new imaginings in what it means to attack, attack, attack.

On the safety side, there is now a minimum bow volume, for buoyancy if the boat augurs in. “New Zealand had the biggest bows in the fleet in 2014,” Gino said. “They stuffed it in that one race and survived. After the fact we sat down with the Oracle Racing guys to analyze the video of that incident, and we determined that, if Oracle had done the same thing, they would have been upside down. So, the new bow dimensions are much closer to the NZ spec than to the Oracle spec.”


Photo by Daniel Forster

Photo by Daniel Forster

You might recall, ETNZ took that serious nose dive in an early race, and Oracle did this less-radical face plant on the reach to the first mark in the deciding, final race, which could have come out rather differently. As seen through the lens of Daniel Forster . . .


With hulls now functioning as components of a foil-delivery system, the extra bow volume builds a safety margin with no meaningful downside. A little more carbon, a little more weight, a little more windage, but equalized through the fleet. Where Oracle had a safety advantage over the Emirates Team New Zealand boat was in its protective cockpits. When ETNZ stuffed it, bodies were flung forward against each other—there weren’t enough grab points—and as the boat sailed on, there were fewer crew on deck. The “AC62? mandates cockpits.

For an easy point of cost saving, “That crazy aerodynamic structure on the underside of Oracle, fairing-in the dolphin striker, will be restricted. It represented a lot of research, a lot of engineering and a lot of carbon. By going one-design on those components, we’re saving the teams a lot of development, so now we get calls from the CFD [Computational Fluid Dynamics] engineers saying, ‘Hey, what about our lunch?’ Then there’s the grinders union . . .”

The big picture view of the 2013 America’s Cup is that Oracle Racing built a faster boat—more aerodynamic, twistier, harder to sail—and learned how to sail it just in time. Mastering upwind foiling was the key, and one key to that was grinding style. You probably know the old joke, “You just keep grinding and if I need any sheet I’ll take it.” Well, launching the comeback, that’s exactly what was going on aboard Oracle. Trimmer Kyle Langford needed instant response to keep the boat on knife’s edge. Asking the boys to pump oil to generate hydraulic pressure for trimming built in a delay that just didn’t cut it. So the grinders would grind all the way. No stored energy was allowed under the AC72 rule, but the new rule as written by Morrelli & Melvin, in consultation with Oracle Racing’s Russell Coutts and Ian Burns, for example, will permit a component of stored energy. The grinders may still be grinding steadily, but not frantically. At least, according to the numbers. As one result, the crew has been reduced to the tune of two grinders. That’s two less jobs on the payroll per boat, and two less jobs per boat in the America’s Cup Industry.

Gino Morrelli has a laid back Southern California style, and he comes by it honestly. The whole team at Morrelli & Melvin Design and Engineering has been known to shove work and hit the beach when the surf is up. Morrelli describes himself as, “A longboard kind of guy.” It’s not far from their Newport Beach offices to the sand. Obviously, they also crank out the work. M&M also developed the design rule for the AC72s, and they were the principal authors of the design of Emirates Team New Zealand. They’ve been part of the America’s Cup every time multihulls have been in the game: 1988, 2010 and on. They’re also part of cutting edge multihull racing at every level from A-cats up, and cruising cats from the Hobie Wave to Gunboats. And when I want to impress the nieces and nephews, I just tell’em, yep, I know the folks who designed the Jungle Cruise boats for Disneyland. Those are their only monohulls, I believe, unless you count stand up paddleboards.


The Q&A rambled a bit. Naturally, a Bay Area audience wanted to know if the 2017 match will be sailed here. I voiced my stubborn optimism that it will, simply because that’s what ought to happen.

Someone asked why Artemis Racing still has its base in Alameda, and their 45 is sometimes seen on the bay. Gino responded that, well, everybody has to be someplace, “and I think they’re betting that the next races will be here.”

Another circuit in AC45s? Here’s Gino: “The 45s attract a lot of interest from the start-up teams. It’s a way to bring in sponsors and show the racing to a home audience. On the upside, it’s pretty easy to convert an AC45 to a foiler. On the downside, the logistics are completely nuts. The circuit was a giant loss leader. No way could it stand on its own. Larry wrote the check for the whole show the last time, but I don’t know how interested he might be in helping those start-up teams get a foothold. He’s already spent so many hundreds of millions on this. I figure the AC45s are a tier 3 decision right now.”

What’s the status of Morrelli & Melvin vis a vis AC35? “We’re free agents again. We’ve been contacted by a number of the guys, but everybody’s waiting for the Class Rule and the Protocol.”

More challengers next time? “Sixish. The Aussies are in, and Artemis. Luna Rossa. Probably the Kiwis, and the French are trying hard and so is Britain, with Ben Ainslie. The design box is tighter and smaller, but I guarantee you there’s enough room inside the box that someone’s going to come up with a faster boat than somebody else.”