America’s Cup designer Loick Peyron says changes to boat sizes have been ‘brutal’

Sailing great Loick Peyron admits changes were needed but wonders whether America's Cup bosses have gone too far.


Sailing great Loick Peyron admits changes were needed but wonders whether America’s Cup bosses have gone too far.

A yacht racing and design guru has described the America’s Cup changes as “brutal” and wondered if the radical revamp has gone “too far”.

Frenchman Loick Peyron is part of Artemis Racing’s design “dream team”, providing an ability to transfer his long and successful racing career into performance gains with the radical foiling catamarans.

America’s Cup bosses caused controversy with their recent decision to reduce the boats from 62-feet to 48-feet and include several one-design elements to cut costs mid-cycle on the way to Bermuda 2017.

Swedish syndicate Artemis were part of the majority that backed that move along with cup holders Oracle and fellow challengers Team France and Ben Ainslie Racing (Britain). Team New Zealand were against the moves.

But Peyron, who sailed in Alinghi’s failed cup defence in 2010 and was part of Artemis’ troubled challenge in 2013, has admitted some personal concerns.

Asked by Yacht Racing Forum how he welcomed the news, Peyron responded: “It has been a bit brutal, although we were kind of expecting it. We had done a lot of work on our 62′ which will, hopefully, not be useless. Under the leadership of Iain Percy, we were working on our systems, in order to manage our appendages and our wing, and we’ll keep doing this, just at a smaller scale.”

Peyron said the changes meant the America’s Cup had lost the “big sailing team” aspect that set it apart in the sport.

“All you need now is a helmsman, a wing-trimmer and a group of hamsters to pump your hydraulics … maybe it’s gone a bit too far: too much muscle and not enough brain, we’ll see. But luckily for the white hairs, this game, like many others, needs experience,” he said.

Peyron suggested this was a transition period that would “favour participation”. Already Japan have re-emerged with a late challenge under the adjusted format and Team France have described the changes as a lifeline to their struggling budget.

“I would personally prefer bigger boats, where the choreography and other unique skills are really important. Hopefully foiling boat speed and “spectacle quality” are not linked to the size,” Peyron said before acknowledging the inevitability of progress through downscaling.

“These changes in the cup had to be done, even if some of them seem painful. We want to offer the best sport show ever, and it will be the case again.”

Peyron is a long-distance specialist who holds the record for the fastest circumnavigation of the world and has become a multihull specialist.