For teams entering the 34th America’s Cup, approximately E1.25 million ($1.811 million) will get them the design program announced by America's Cup Race Management last week, a program that's reportedly equal to that which the big boys like ORACLE Racing and Artemis Racing will be using for their AC 72 design.
This opportunity represents the first time ever in the America’s Cup that a shared design program is being offered to teams to jump-start their boat design program for the fast high-tech AC 72, which will be raced in the 34th edition of the event.
Talking to SailBlast in San Francisco, Iain Murray, America’s Cup Race Management CEO said that purchasing the design program will save teams a substantial amount of money but more importantly, time in getting to the start line with a competitive, technology-driven boat.
“What we (ACRM) are doing would cost the teams substantially more than that, multiples of that in fact,” Murray explained. “But the thing that it saves them, most important, is 8-10 months of design work. If you’re just coming in, you can’t make that up unless you started in October last year.”
While all the teams expressed an interest in such a program from the outset, and a number have said they will buy the program, Murray said it’s a little too early to say which teams will step up. For those who do, they’ll also have consultation access to the design leaders who designed the program - high performance multihull designers VPLP of France and North Technology Group (NTG - designers of the wing and sail package), headquartered in the US.
When asked how much of the AC 45 design template was used to create the design program Murray responded, “Obviously the AC 45 has been very helpful for all the designers around the world - they’ve all given it a pretty thorough looking over. The designers we’ve got are no different to any other in that they’ve all been swarming over the AC 45, C-class cats and I’m sure they’ve been studying all sorts of stuff on USA-17. Having the AC 45 sailing - the most relevant, scaled down boat - has been most helpful for everyone.”
While the teams can launch their AC 72s as early as next January Murray said it’s hard to know when the first will actually hit the water.
“Considering that there’s about an 8 month build program that would mean teams will probably start in May/June but I think they’re probably going to use the design time as long as they can, so I could see them more realistically sailing April/May/June 2012.”
A first glance at the players who make up the design team would make it seem that it’s heavily weighted on the Euro side. Murray concurred that there is a very big skill base in Europe especially given that the America’s Cup has been in Europe for a while now. Nonetheless, he states that NTG has a very strong American influence and a very strong New Zealand manufacturing base.
“It’s a very international mix, and at the end of the day, we’re trying to find an answer to design and cost effective build/construction with the best people we can find which includes all those people. Sure, there’s a strong European influence - VPLP are French multihull designers extraordinaire, but then a mono hull just won the Barcelona Round the World Race...”
Russell Coutts has talked of the possibility of commercializing the AC 45, but even now that there’s an AC 72 design program on the table, Murray says that at present there’s no discussion of doing such with the AC 72. Rather the focus is on helping the teams and building a viable America’s Cup event.
“What we’re trying to do is to put as good a team of people together as we can - and we think we have an excellent team of people - and to help start the teams in an orderly process of designing the boat in the way some of the bigger teams like ORACLE and Artemis would go about it, and to have a design that is the equivalent of a big team’s design available to them.”
Photos: Gilles Martin-Raget