Back to fu­ture for next Am Cup?

Sunday Star-Times - - SPORT - DUN­CAN JOHN­STONE

Team New Zealand de­sign boss Dan Ber­nasconi be­lieves pure speed isn’t the key in­gre­di­ent to a great Amer­ica’s Cup and sees high­per­for­mance mono­hulls as a vi­able op­tion.

The fu­ture of the next Cup will come into full fo­cus this week when the 35th re­gatta winds up in Ber­muda.

Cur­rent hold­ers Or­a­cle Team USA are com­mit­ted to push­ing on with the mul­ti­hulls but the vi­sion of Team New Zealand will only be­come known if they can wres­tle the Auld Mug away from the Amer­i­cans.

The Cup hold­ers get to make the rules and there has been much spec­u­la­tion that the Ki­wis, work­ing with Ital­ians Luna Rossa as the chal­lenger of record, would re­turn some of the tra­di­tions to the con­test. That could even stretch to the area of boat de­sign.

It will take a brave syn­di­cate to do a mas­sive U-turn on the ex­trav­a­ganza that has again cap­tured pub­lic at­ten­tion with its fast boats and quick-fire for­mat. But there are wor­thy al­ter­na­tives.

‘‘We’re com­pletely fo­cused on this Cup and we still have a lot of work to do to try and win it. We have re­ally not talked at all about what we would do if we did win and what class of boat (would be used),’’ tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor Ber­nasconi told Fair­fax.

‘‘There has been a lot of spec­u­la­tion as to what we might be think­ing but the truth is we haven’t thought of that. It would ob­vi­ously be a nice prob­lem to have to be able to make that de­ci­sion.

‘‘Per­son­ally I think this class of boat is great but you could also have re­ally high-per­for­mance mono­hulls. I think you can get ex­cit­ing racing in a lot of dif­fer­ent kinds of boats.’’

Ber­nasconi has been in­volved in the Amer­ica’s Cup since the 2007 re­gatta in Va­len­cia and that last edition of mono­hull racing re­mains his favourite. He felt there was gen­uine com­pet­i­tive­ness amongst the 12 syn­di­cates.

‘‘Per­son­ally I re­ally en­joyed the Cup in 2007 with much slower boats but re­ally good com­pe­ti­tion and great sailing,’’ said the man who has over­seen Team New Zealand’s dou­ble-hulled rock­et­ship.

‘‘It’s not nec­es­sar­ily the ab­so­lute top-end boat speed which makes the sailing that is es­sen­tial to have a good re­gatta.’’

As a de­signer who has man­aged to in­cor­po­rate in­cred­i­ble in­no­va­tion into the much tighter bound­aries of the many one-de­sign com­po­nents for Ber­muda, he would like a bit more wrig­gle room.

‘‘From a de­sign point of view I think all the en­gi­neers and de­sign­ers would be keen on rules that are more open and al­low more in­no­va­tion,’’ he said.

In­ter­est­ingly, the Volvo Race is in­tro­duc­ing foil­ing Ocean mono­hulls for it’s 2019-20 world ex­trav­a­ganza.

The 60-foot boats will fea­ture a keel with a blade at its tip, two rud­ders with ad­justable el­e­va­tors, and ad­justable foils on each side of the one hull. They will be crewed by five to seven peo­ple. round the

The Volvo is hav­ing a bob each way though as it em­braces the new tech­nol­ogy – it has also de­cided teams will con­test the tra­di­tional ‘‘in-port’’ races at stopovers in foil­ing cata­ma­rans, mean­ing syn­di­cates will op­er­ate two sep­a­rate boats.

RI­CARDO PINTO/ACEA 2017

En­gi­neers and de­sign­ers would like more wrig­gle room in the rules to al­low more in­no­va­tion in the boats next Amer­ica’s Cup.

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