We are in full preparation mode at ORACLE TEAM USA. As defender of the 34th America’s Cup, and with less than a year until the finals, we have a lot happening – from training and racing to launching and building two 72-foot catamarans, the AC72s.
Since the summer of 2011, we have been racing 45-foot multi-hulls, the AC45s, in the America’s Cup World Series. Now we’re starting to sail our newly launched AC72 – the boat we’ll be racing next year for the America’s Cup Final in San Francisco. With a fixed-wing sail of more than 130 feet – twice the height of the AC45s – sailing is a whole new experience. Both boats are high-tech machines that fly up and down the race course. They are a real adrenaline rush; they may be challenging to sail, but they’re also extremely fun.
At ORACLE TEAM USA, we have a highly qualified team comprising the best designers, engineers, boat builders, sail makers and sailors from around the world, working tirelessly to create a state-of-the-art racing yacht for the 34th America’s Cup campaign. The main goal, of course, is to successfully defend the Cup and win in September 2013. But we are also dedicated to bringing the excitement of sailing to a new audience by making it an exhilarating spectator experience.
The world has moved on from the Cup’s beginnings in 1851; the entire America’s Cup has focused on advancing our sport and engaging a younger audience with the hope of generating new fans. Television production and high-quality images already coming from fixed cameras on board the AC45s have brought the sport closer to the public. And Liveline graphics technology has helped make sailing more viewer-friendly. So we designed the AC72 with the TV broadcast in mind.
We wanted to create long-term value for the America’s Cup. We thought about what types of boats will be raced in 50 years and how we can move there today. The result: very physical AC72s. When they start racing on a short course, going 40 knots (nearly 52 mph or 83 kph – the equivalent of sailing in a moderate gale) on the fantastic venue of San Francisco Bay, it will be extreme sport at its best.
With these new boats being so physical, we’re seeing an influx of young, athletic guys participating. Strength and agility are important for everything from hoisting and lowering sails to maneuvering down the course. Sure, it makes me wish I was 25 years younger. But I still like to compete. It’s good to be out there observing first-hand how the sport is evolving.
Next year, we’ll see if I make the final cut for the elite 11-man crew racing to defend the oldest trophy in international sport. If this was a race on monohulls again, I’m not sure that I’d do it. But this one, I’m not going to miss.