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The Americans famously
The Americans famously drafted in Sir Ben Ainslie to call tactics. But Ainslie wasn’t sticking around for the next defense. He hot-footed it back to the UK and to the Royal Yacht Squadron, where it all began back in 1851, to announce the most serious British challenge yet for the America’s Cup. A year later he signed a deal with Land Rover to collaborate on the design of the challenger boat. There’s still plenty of work to do yet. The America’s Cup is not entirely a knockout competition like the World Cup for soccer (which it pre-dates by nearly 80 years). Instead, the winning team from the previous Cup gets a free ticket to the next final, while the knockout takes place among those challenging for the other place in the final (so if it was soccer, all the clubs competing would be fighting to take on Germany). Unlike fleet racing in the World Series, the America’s Cup itself is all match racing, with only two boats on the course at any one time. So if Ainslie is to challenge the American boat next year, he first needs to beat the other four challengers. Should he achieve that, we’ll be treated to two of the sport’s undisputed giants slugging it out in one of the greatest, though leastknown, rivalries in sport. Put in boxing terms, you might paraphrase it as the ‘rumble on the water.’ The current Team USA having spent hundreds of millions before finally winning the America’s Cup in 2010 (and therefore winning the right to dictate the location and format of the next event), wanted to start a process that would make the America’s Cup more famous, more accessible and more sustainable. They did this in a number of ways: they stuck with a catamaran design that could be developed into the world’s fastest match-racing yachts; they decided to bring the event inshore in 2013, to San Francisco harbor, so spectators would get to see it from the PHOTOGRAPHY: MARK LLOYD AND RICARDO PINTO 26
AMERICA’S CUP A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE AMERICA’S CUP 1851 Royal Yacht Squadron announces an invitational race for ‘£100 Cup’. Loses 1929 Sir Thomas Lipton gives up after the fifth attempt to win back renamed ‘America’s Cup’ 1956 After 20 years without a challenge, USA introduces cheaper Twelve Meter boats 1983 After 132 years, the New York Yacht Club is finally beaten by the revolutionary Australia II 2010 Determined to win the Cup back from the Swiss, the USA enters a massive 180 ft wing-sailed trimaran 2013 Golden Gate Yacht Club defends with wing-sailed and foiling catamaran, announces Bermuda as 2017 venue. Sir Ben Ainslie and Royal Yacht Squadron announce plan to end ‘167 Years of Hurt’ Sir Ben Ainslie (GB) hopes to take on his great rival Jimmy Spithill (USA) in the final of the America’s Cup in 2017 mainland; and they started a qualifying ‘World Series’ to stop interest in the Cup from waning between the irregular defenses. Land Rover BAR are now 90 percent of the way through the World Series that supports the America’s Cup in Bermuda next year. And the good news is, they’re leading it. With one event left, Land Rover BAR are looking good to start the Bermuda campaign with two wins (the reward for winning the World Series). In the challenger rounds, all the boats will race each other twice, and by then Ainslie will have upgraded his boat from World Series spec to full-blown America’s Cup Class (ACC) spec (see page 32 for exclusive details of Ainslie’s challenger, co-developed with Land Rover) Fingers crossed, it’s looking good for that mouth-watering showdown. ACC boats are identical in principle but altogether different in operation to World Series boats. A little longer (by 5 feet), a lot wider (28 feet not 23) and packing 20 percent more wing area, their wing and foil adjusters are powered by hydraulics, and by four of the six-man crew, which generate hydraulic pressure via the boat’s four grinding stations – literally hydraulic pumps. This is why you’ll see a huge difference in the physicality of skippers like Ainslie and his grinding crew. The grinding crew are literally the boat’s batteries, so need as much muscle power as possible, and given that there is a maximum weight for the crew as a whole, the skinnier the skippers, the more powerful the crew can be. Ainslie, the sailing team and the operational support are about to relocate to Bermuda from the team’s Portsmouth base on the south coast of the UK, overlooking the site of where it all went wrong back in 1851. Land Rover BAR has spent the last two years building the crew’s strength and honing their boathandling skills while developing, building and testing various prototypes for the R1, the Cup Class race boat engineered in collaboration with Land Rover. The first races are in May 2017. Just 33 days later, Ainslie will know whether he too can forget about Queen Victoria, British pride and all that. 27
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