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SPOTLIGHT ON BERMUDA —

Why Bermuda? According to AC 35 organizers, the main reason is its location. We asked Russell Coutts, CEO of the America’s Cup Event Authority (ACEA) to explain: "San Francisco had some unique characteristics that we really liked, but Bermuda offers more. First, the island's location is in between the time zones of Europe and the US. So more people can watch the races live on TV. Second, the weather conditions here are better. We can sail year-round in the Great Sound. Because of the surrounding reef, there is no ocean swell and we only have small windwaves. That means that the foiling catamarans can put in a lot of hours on

WIETZE VAN DER LAAN

The 'Auld Mug' took its first trip to Bermuda earlier this year. But a half dozen teams hope to take it home with them this summer.

the water. The wind is less predictable, which makes for more tactical sailing." Golden Gate YC Commodore Norbert Bajurin clarified another factor that influenced the move: "San Francisco was a great venue for the AC in 2013. Of course we would love to have it here again. But the ACEA couldn't come to an agreement with the city of San Francisco." Jimmy Spithill (Team Oracle USA) says: "Here in Bermuda, we are big fish

"Here in Bermuda, we are big fish in a small pond." in a small pond. People know us, and the Bermudians are enthusiastic about the America's Cup. I love it here." Peter Durhager, chairman of ACBDA, is the liaison between the Bermudian government and ACEA. "Bermuda is a safe island with outstanding natural beauty. Apart from the wonderful sailing conditions and our experience with handling sailing events, we also offer facilities for a wide range of visitors. To give you an example: Bermuda is in the middle between the Med and the Caribbean. That means that a lot of superyachts will be visiting too." He adds: "Bermuda has only 60,000 inhabitants. We are a small country, so the lines are short between the ACEA and the government." Which Teams Will Compete? Now let's have a look at the boats and the athletes who race them. AC 35 has attracted five challengers: Land Rover BAR (GBR) with Sir Ben Ainslie on the helm, Artemis Racing (SWE) with skipper Nathan Outteridge, Groupama Team France with Franck Cammas, Softbank Team Japan with Dean Barker and Emirates Team New Zealand with Glenn Ashby. Jimmy Spithill, 2013's winning helmsman, will again skipper Team Oracle USA. The overall lineup of athletes is impressive: Olympic medalists and one-design world champions work alongside veterans of various foiling sailboats. The new 48-ft raceboats require a crew of six: helms-

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f you were lucky enough to witness America's Cup 34 on San Francisco Bay four years ago, the memories are undoubtedly still vivid. In addition, even some international race fans who watched the Cityfront action remotely regard it as the most extraordinary sailing event the world had ever seen. In 2013, Cup defender Larry Ellison's Oracle Team USA, racing under the burgee of the Golden Gate YC, ultimately won that historic event in an almost unbelievable comeback. But months later, after considering various site proposals, OTUSA elected to move the next edition, AC 35, to a brand-new venue: the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda, which lies roughly 1,100 miles off the US mainland. With the start of AC 35 events beginning in May, we went to that isolated isle to check out the scene and take the pulse of both the AC sailors and their fans.

man, wingtrimmer/tactician and four grinders. The grinders perform other tasks as well, most importantly, trimming the headsail and the foils. "These boats are very physical." says Nathan Outteridge. "The grinders burn about 6,000 calories per day. They generate the power in the hydraulic system which we need to control the boat." The jobs of the wing trimmer and helmsman are not easy either. The boats can foil at speeds up to 50 knots, which makes a lot of noise. With the foils slicing the water and the wind screaming past the wing, the need for a communications system is clear. The helmsman and wingtrimmer have microphones attached to their helmets, the rest of the crew can only listen. There is no time for lengthy conversations. Racing sailboats at these speeds has become almost an intuitive sport. "You need two years to learn how to sail the boat before you can start racing," Nathan Outteridge explains. Has it become a sport only for young people who can deal with the physical demands? "I hope not," laughs Dean Barker, who is now in his early forties. Nathan Outteridge (who just turned 30) is more adamant: "Yes, it is. The grinders

Latitude 38 April 2017  
Latitude 38 April 2017  

The April 2017 issue of the West's premier sailing and marine magazine.