Sail-World New Zealand: May 1, 2014 - To Volvo or not?

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Three of the Emirates Team NZ team for Qingdao, Glenn Ashby (AUS) chasing Blair Tuke (NZL) with Peter Burling (24) still on the previous leg) A-class catamaran World Championships, Day 3, Takapuna February 13, 2014
Welcome to Sail-World.com New Zealand for May 1, 2014

Despite being in a between-campaign lull, Emirates Team NZ is back in the news, with strong rumors of a Volvo Ocean Race entry being imminent.

This weekend their new start line-up of Peter Burling and Blair Tuke step aboard the team's Extreme 40, for the Extreme Sailing Series, Act 3 to be sailed in Qingdao China.

The ripple around the Auckland waterfront is that the team's Volvo campaign, in conjunction with Spanish backers, is a goer. Sources in Spain are not so sure, citing the domestic uproar that occurred when Emirates Team NZ announced their relationship with Spanish shoemaker, Camper.

Spanish sources say that three major sponsors are involved in the program. Volvo organisers said at a media session earlier in Alicante that there would be seven entries on the line in September, so far, five have been announced.

All is expected to be revealed in the next week or two - it has to be, time is running out fast.

The Extreme Sailing Series 2011. Act 2. Qingdao. China Pictures of The Wave Muscat capsizing on day 2 of racing Credit: Sui Zhi Qiang/Lloyd Images

Spanish domestic politics aside, the Volvo Ocean Race 2014/15 edition desperately needs marque team of the calibre of Emirates Team New Zealand. They provide a vital benchmark for comparsion with the preceding race. As well they anoint the event with the mana of the world's most successful professional sailing team. That value cannot be under estimated.

The way the field stands, and if the remaining two boats to be announced are both from Europe, the event will lack a Southern hemisphere aspect, and this needs to be balanced with the top Kiwi crew.

In this edition we have a blog and images from the all-women crew aboard the Swedish backed Team SCA. They are en route to Newport, USA, as part of a training run which will comprise a double Atlantic crossing.

The 12 strong crew - Team SCA - Europe to Newport - Day 3

The most visible feature of the womens' exploits have been the efforts of the team’s OBR (on board reporter, the new term for the MCM - media crew member in the last race). For the first time we are getting a real insight into the race.

This 2014/15 race is supposed to be more media friendly, but the OBR's should have been in place and working right now.

There is a massive news gap at present with the America's Cup in limbo, and there are a lot of stories that can be run to introduce crews and boats and the work up going into the next race. Volvo OR should have been able to fill this vacuum, at a time when the event is scratching for credibility outside Europe.

25 Apr 2014. Onboard Team SCA during their first sail across the Atlantic Ocean. Route: Lanzarote - Newport. Distance: 3,750nm. Images from Corinna Halloran (USA) - Onboard Reporter (on trial)

One of the sadder aspects of professional sailing is the dead hand of corporate media, which tries to present every story in the most promising light, engineers insipid story opportunities, and generally tries to sanitise what is really happening.

Far better to take the approach of other sports who only play for 90 minutes a week, but enjoy six days of coverage in between as the controversies rage, and fill the sports news. For sure, the PR handlers try to practice their black art, but that only encourages the media to go for the real story. Their other PR ploy is to say absolutely nothing, and just freeze out all but the most tame of media. But they don't go away, they speculate instead, which can be even more damaging, but is often on the money.

San Francisco America’s Cup final Oracle Team USA wins the 34th America’s Cup

At present, on the America's Cup front, it hard to know whether to laugh or cry.

A lot is being talked about what could be in the next Cup, with the Defenders having way to big a say in what will happen in the Challenger Selection Series.

Aside from the development of a new AC62 boat, which seems to make broad sense, the rest of it raises more questions than answers. Click here to read one story from the US last weekend

The Defender being able to participate in any way in a Challenger Selection Series was one of the cornerstones of then Oracle Racing, and Golden Gate Yacht Club, railing against black-hatted Alinghi and SNG. Now there is news of now Defender wanting to do more, and for a preliminary series counting for 20% of the Challenger Selection points.

The notion that some preliminary series could be sailed outside of San Francisco (sorry, most people outside OTUSA circles don't believe there is any other viable venue) just doesn't really stack up. While on one hand the organisers talk of getting up to 12 challengers (which should be achievable), they then talk of only having four of those in San Francisco for the Semis and Finals. Who is going to want to participate on that basis? What sponsors would be interested?

San Francisco 34th AMERICA’S CUP America’s Cup final Oracle Team USA wins the 34th America’s Cup

Then there is the one design talk to reduce costs. But we all know that the Defender were caught cheating in the last occasion one design elements were used - so who would have confidence in the enforcement of one-design come the America's Cup proper?

Oh, and then there is the talk of reducing/eliminating the role of ISAF and the Int Jury and replacement of some functions with a Commissioner. Against the backdrop of the antics of the 34th Match and its lead up, some cynics would be of the view that the establishment of a full blown police-state was more in order.

The list is long. The simple solution is to give the Challengers their Selection Series back, and for the Defender to just agree to meet the winner of the CSS for the Match. In other words run the event as George Schulyer intended in his 18th century Deed of Gift for the America's Cup. GGYC so-oft reminded the sailing world in 2007-2010 - the America's Cup is a Challenge Trophy, and is driven by the Challengers, who name the boats and name the dates. All the Defender does is name the venue. We are light years away from that simple scenario at present.

Golden Gate Yacht Club - Defender the the 35th America’s Cup

Why can't the Defender produce a memo, like the New York Yacht Club used to do - at final day of the Match - saying that the NYYC, as Defender, would entertain challenges from clubs for a 30 day window, for an event to be sailed in 12 metres, and naming the venue.

In the present circumstance, why can't the current Defender, Golden Gate YC do this? Is it that hard?

Instead they meddle in areas, which are not theirs, under the Deed of Gift and the current indecision and vacuum is the result.

Peter Burling and Blair Tuke, 49er medal race - 2014 ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyeres
© Franck Socha


The positive side, this coming weekend is set in Qingdao for the start of Act 3 of the Extreme Sailing Series, and the entrance of Peter Burling and Blair Tuke. Kiwis, in particular, are keen to see just how that crew shakes down and performs. we will have full coverage on Sail-World.com

Following up from the NZL Sailing Team's success in the ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyeres, we have blogs from both the Mens 49er and Womens 49erFX crews in this edition.

2014 ISAF Sailing World Cup, Hyeres,France 06 1530
Thom Thow Photography

If you are a sailmaker, looking for a great opportunity, Doyle Sails would like to talk with you. They have even thrown their net internationally; offering an airfare to New Zealand for top sailmakers prepared to guarantee a tenure of more than six months in GodZone. See the story in this edition for more details.

Extraordinary beach drawing
.. .
Good sailing!

Richard Gladwell
NZ Editor

sailworldnzl@gmail.com

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