Pete Cumming has raced everything, from small foiling catamarans to 70ft world record-breaking trimarans. His legacy has seen him race with some incredible teams whilst achieving National, European and World Championship titles. Musto caught up with this BT Sport sailing pundit to hear his thoughts on what to expect at the 36th America’s Cup.
The America’s Cup is renowned for cutting-edge technology and design innovation, and the 35th America’s Cup certainly delivered this in spades.
Back in 2010 when Oracle Team USA beat Alinghi in the Deed of Gift match, Russell Coutts the boss of the Oracle team announced that his tech-centric vision for future America’s Cup editions was directed towards the “Facebook generation”.
In the winter of 2012, the world saw the first images that were to define the 34th America’s Cup; Team New Zealand‘s 72ft catamaran lifting out the water and sailing on its foils. This was the moment all teams knew the bar had been raised, and a race to develop foils and systems capable of flying these giants around the racetrack.
The Holy Grail for AC34 was the foiling gybe. In August 2016, Team Japan demonstrated the foiling tack on their smaller, lighter AC45F; now the big step forward was to complete the course without the hulls ever touching the water. Who would complete this mission first? Yes, you guessed it, Emirates Team New Zealand whilst training on home waters before the team moved to Bermuda.
No one would have believed all those years ago that the technology could move fast enough to allow the new generation of America’s Cup class boats to literally fly around the whole course. This is so commonplace now that the fans are actually disappointed by their teams if the hulls touch down during a match.
All the teams knew from this point that to win a race, you could not afford any touch downs. As we saw in Bermuda, a heavy touch down in a straight line, or worse still, through a manoeuvre, would cost a team hundreds of meters and possibly the race.
The highlights from this America’s Cup cycle were seeing how far technology has progressed and hearing the increased awareness around foiling. Knowledge has filtered down making this new exciting way to sail accessible to all sailors - it’s unusual to visit a sailing club and not see a foiling dinghy buzzing around.
Musto’s close partnership with Groupama Team France has been a constant kit development race, which has resulted in their new, cutting-edge dinghy and foiling range. As we reach new top speeds on the water, the level of flexibility and protection needs to match the boats perfectly to keep us comfortable and safe on the water. Musto partnered with D3O® to provide impact protection that reduces the force of the bumps and knocks on the water. These pads can be inserted into internal pockets in the wetsuits to protect vital areas. Thanks to Musto’s association with some of the world’s top sailors and teams, the kit is always tailored to the needs of the sailor, no matter the boat or conditions.
Oracle Team USA arrived into the final of the AC35 as winners of the round-robin Louis Vuitton series holding a 1-point advantage over a slick looking Emirates Team New Zealand. Are we to believe that a very confident Pete Burling was sandbagging in the early rounds? If you look at the 7-2 score line, then yes. Oracle had no match for ETNZ in the final, boat speed, manoeuvres and pre-start: the usually aggressive and confident Jimmy Spithill had gone from pitbull to poodle.
ETNZ had designed their setup more aggressively to the rule than any other team. Bigger foils specific for the lighter wind ranges and the real secret to success were the “Cyclors”. The three cyclors were at times up to 30% more efficient than teams with traditional arm pedestals for charging the accumulators - the stored hydraulic energy powering foils and wing sail operations. This level of efficiency allowed the aft cyclor Blair Tuke to take the responsibility of flying the boat away from helm Pete Burling: a design decision that proved crucial when it matters most!
So the oldest trophy in sport is now heading to New Zealand, what can we expect? I would say we might see the America’s Cup head merge the past with the future, harnessing some of the very clever design elements from this AC, and possibly mixing them with a more traditional platform. We may even see sails being hoisted and dropped around the racecourse. If rumours are true who knows we may even see monohulls again - and the bikes remaining in the boatshed!
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