A growing number of leaders in the sailing world are calling for the America’s Cup to rid itself of its current foiling boats and return to a more traditional form.
The last three competitions for the America’s Cup have been contested by boats with foils, which has both increased the pace and cost of racing. Some sailing experts believe these have been experiments that have gone on long enough and a return to more traditional boats will provide a better spectacle and quality of competition.
New York Yacht Club commodore Chris Culver told the Sailing World website last month that if American Magic win this year’s Cup they would “put the boat back into the water”.
“It will be somewhere between 80 and 100 feet in length. It will be a displacement monohull that is good for traditional match racing. You need to be able to see the boats from a distance, and the boats need to be majestic.”
Culver’s opinion has now been backed by Italian sailing legend Riccardo Bonadeo who told the La Stampa website on Tuesday that foiling boats were taking the sport too far away from its definitions.
“There must be technological evolution, but on boats that sail. I share the New York Yacht Club’s idea of new 80-100 displacement hulls for the next edition,” Bonadeo said.
“With the AC75 we have entered another dimension, where aerodynamics are more important than hydrodynamics.
“In fact, we speak of flight, not navigation. And the seafaring skills of the crew are no longer enhanced, but other characteristics are required of the latter. “
Bonadeo, the former commodore of the Costa Smeralda Yacht Club and president of the Azzurra campaigns in 1983 and 1987, also echoed the opinion of his skipper from those campaigns, Cino Ricci.
“I don’t see the sails changing, I don’t see the men moving together on board to carry out the intuitions of the tactician and the helmsman,” Ricci told La Stampa in a separate interview last week.
“In short, I don’t see the art of sailing. Which for me means taking advantage of the wind according to its variations and the sails I have available.”
Culver bolstered his opinion on foiling with the notion that the AC75 boats and their extreme cost – the Team INEOS campaign has been reported to cost upwards of NZ$220m – has taken national competitiveness out of the sport.
“The America’s Cup needs to be about national and country pride.
“We want to see more challengers, and this will happen if we make the Cup more economically feasible. If you reduce the time it takes to design the boat and campaign it, the costs will be lower.”
However, not all in the sailing world back the Cup’s return to a more traditional form.
Team New Zealand are obvious proponents of the AC75 and Luna Rossa helmsman Francesco Bruni has been outspoken in his support for the class.
“Three years ago I was sceptical about the new class. I said to myself, too many computer simulations and little sailing, but now that we have them, and we are sailing, well, I must say that it is a very successful boat, a good project,” Bruni told the Fare Vela website in December.
“They are amazing racing objects, which surprise us too and give us great sensations. Especially upwind, when we reach 35-36 knots with VMG close to 30, we are amazed.
“I have to say that I would like them to remain as an America’s Cup class regardless of who wins the Cup. A really nice object.”
However, opinions are worth little at this point of time as only the holder of the America’s Cup may choose the rules of its engagement. For now, those voices will be forced to join a chorus of support on shorelines and in front of televisions and screens as the Prada Cup and America’s Cup play out over the coming months.
Enjoy smooth sailing to the Cup with Auckland Transport
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• For more ways to enjoy race day, visit at.govt.nz/americascup