The “Auld Mug”, the affectionate name for the America’s Cup, has been won by a New Zealand team on two previous occasions. However, if it is not won back from the Americans this year in San Francisco, it will most likely be the last time they will be able to afford to enter a team.
Emirates Team New Zealand are in the process of launching their second wing keeled catamaran, the AC72, which they will race in San Francisco Bay later in the year, but the managing director of the team, Grant Dalton, said this was the team’s last chance.
New Zealand has often hit major yachting news in the past, due to its attempts to win the America’s Cup and it is now about to launch its own version of the 72ft catamaran, NZL5, in the hope of remaining in the limelight.
|Up to the Mark, 32nd Amer…
One of the features of the America’s Cup is its sheer expense and there is no end in sight when it comes to the dollars required to construct a yacht that is capable of withstanding the competition that is apparent in this event. $120 million – the value of each contesting boat – is far beyond most pockets, except those that have millions to either invest or throw away.
There are only three challengers that will contest the current cup holder in San Francisco this year and they are Luna Rosa, Artemis and Team New Zealand. Billionaires are normally needed to back the event, but Team New Zealand has had to depend on a meagre $37 million handout from their own government. The government’s hope is that they will win and benefit New Zealand’s economy by encouraging tourism and interest in the next event that always takes place in the country that won the last cup. Not surprisingly, there is huge pressure on the New Zealand team’s captain to deliver the goods.
The AC72 yachts have their power generated by massive wing sails and are apparently able to move at double the speed of the wind at any point in time. The crew can’t just sit back and watch the action unfold, but have to be extremely fit to endure the physical challenges involved in pushing the AC 72 to its limits. The roles assigned to each member of the team have to be coordinated so that ever metre of movement is monitored, so that no mistakes can be made. The demands, both physical and mental, compete well with some of the hardest and most challenging sports found throughout the world.
All teams have been expected to design and construct their own AC72s for the racing events that take place in the Louis Vuitton Cup, which is the selection series that takes place before the final America’s Cup event.
July 1, 2012 was the launch day for the AC72, but only 30 days of testing and training on the boat are allowed before January 31, 2013.
On February 1 2013, the second AC72 can be launched and practice with these amazing, but super expensive sailing macines can then commence.
America’s Cup fans and the New Zealand people can only stand back and wait to see the outcome of the event this summer, staged at the Golden Gate Yacht Club in San Francisco.
January 22, 2013 | Alison Williams
The first race regatta of the America’s Cup World Series has now finished and was won by the winning yacht, Emirates New Zealand. The regatta was staged at Cascais in Portugal last week. There was tight competition as is usual with America’s Cup contenders as they raced in the AC 45 yachts that are all identical in size thus leaving it down to the tactics of the skipper and crew to use their skills to push their yacht to the limits.
Oracle, the baby of owner and CEO Larry Ellison, tried its best to come out tops but Dean Barker and Emirates Team New Zealand showed their strengths and fought hard to win. They were closely pursued by an Artemis team that seemed to have managed to get their yacht into serious action and were finally placed second.
The next round is to take place in Plymouth, England. The Plymouth Sounds, offshore from the infamous Plymouth Hoe, are to be the staging post of the second round in mid September. The Plymouth waterfront is steeped in maritime history. It should be known by all Americans today as the launching point for the Pilgrim Fathers who in 1620 firmly established a new British colony on the shores of North America. Sir Francis Chichester also set sail from Plymouth in the 1960’s to complete an epic solo round the world voyage unaided.
Plymouth has always been a magnetic attraction for renowned yachtsmen and women from the around the globe and has been the host for the start and finish of many important sailing events including the Fastnet, Tall Ships and Clipper races as well as the Trans Atlantic races.
cascais © Nico - Fotolia.com
Plymouth Hoe supports an outstanding viewpoint to watch all maritime activities with plenty of space to watch the amazing AC45’s as they leap into action at speeds that will defy any racing yacht in decades earlier.
Around fifteen teams are expected to take part but after the series and the Luis Vuitton Cup is completed there will only be the challenger (the yacht that wins the series) and the defender (the yacht that won the last America’s Cup) who will take part in the final series in San Francisco hosted by the Golden Gate Yacht Club in 2013. The current AC 45’s launched in New Zealand earlier this year will be used for this set of regattas and they can reach speeds of 30 knots in favourable conditions but the design for the final AC 72’s yachts in 2013 will remain under lock and key.
The AC 45 is basically allowing crews to gain experience on wing sailed multihulls. The 45 has been designed to be used throughout the 2011 and 2012 in America’s Cup World Series action packed events before being substituted by the AC 72s for the Louis Vuitton Cup and the final challenger and defender series.
The AC 45 is a high-tech racing boat, powered by a wing sail that soars more than 20 meters above the deck and has already proven to be an outstanding performer in winds from 5 to 30 knots in recent sea trials in New Zealand. Seemingly, size doesn’t matter as it is actually quite simple to sail and can be manouvered with ease.
It appears that there was quite a challenge to design a yacht that would not only fit the racing and performance requirements, but could also fit inside a forty foot container when dismantled which is the usual shipping method for the America’s Cup World Series. If the yacht could not be dismantled then the cost of shipping would be quite prohibitive.
August 18, 2011 | Alison Williams
A little publicised event outside of the Pacific Ocean sea going nations has just taken place on the Californian coast. Six double hulled ocean going canoes, called vaka moana throughout the Polynesian part of the Pacific, have reached San Francisco on an incredible journey that started in New Zealand and has taken them right across the Pacific to Tahiti, the Marquesas and Hawaii.
The trip is the brainchild of German, Dieter Paulmann, the founder of the organization Okeanos-Foundation of the Sea. The purpose of the voyage is to demonstrate that great sea voyages can be carried out safely and successfully using a combination of traditional Polynesian technology and modern scientific know-how in an environmentally sustainable way.
Dieter is a lover of the sea and its marine life and was inspired by the great Pacific voyages of the Polynesian and Micronesian voyagers of old. These people were undertaking long ocean voyages of exploration and trading at a period when their European counterparts still considered the world to be a cube and were scared of falling off the edge of the visible horizon. The seven original vaka of the project have all originated from the Pacific’s Polynesian island nations – Samoa, New Zealand, the Cook Islands, Hawaii and Tahiti and many of the crew are Polynesian, although there have been a diversity of volunteers along the way who have helped to sail the craft to the shores of North America.
Another motive for the project has come from what Dieter saw as the increasing deterioration in the Pacific marine environment – acidification, the deterioration of the coral reefs and the effects of noise pollution on marine life. The participants of the project have stressed their commitment to healthy marine ecosystems for their own people, so dependent on the bounty of the sea and to honour their ancestors who had sailed before them. Their voyage motto is to “Move their paddle silently through the water”.
Hōkūle`a, a Hawaiian wa'a kaulua © HongKongHuey
The vaka are double hulled schooners, similar in design to those that were plying the Pacific Ocean at the height of the Polynesian Golden Age during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The vaka use a combination of traditional and modern materials to reduce the overall impact on the Pacific environment. The hulls are made from fiberglass, rather than hollowed out from huge forest logs as of old. The largest trees have in any event all but gone from the Pacific’s shrinking rain forests. A bank of eight large solar panels is attached to the back of each catamaran and supplies the only power for their auxiliary engines. The only fossil fuel used on board is natural gas for cooking.
Dieter’s inspiration for the project was strengthened by his visit to the Festival of Pacific Arts in American Samoa in 2008 where he saw the Cook Islands vaka “Te Au o Tonga”. Here he met with master Hawaiian navigator and vaka enthusiast Nainoa Thompson and his teacher and friend the Micronesian navigator Papa Mau Piailug. From these two people Dieter learnt of the way in which the Polynesians used to navigate without a compass or sextant, let alone a GPS, but instead using their knowledge of the movement of the stars and planets, the direction of ocean waves, seabird migration and movement, and cloud formations.
August 10, 2011 | Alison Williams
The six vaka are currently involved in a series of meetings and events planned in and around San Francisco and are then due to retrace their journey. This will take them South along the Californian coast towards Mexico, and then back to Hawaii, Tahiti, the Cook Islands, Tonga and finally New Zealand.
Round the world sailing is nothing new to the world’s adventurers. In fact, it was way back in the 15th century when Magellan and his crew completed the journey via the Capes. Sailing ships have since ventured to all parts of the globe, commanded by sea captains flying the flag of their respective countries. They sailed in search of wealth, find new lands for settlement and, at the same time, spread the word of Christianity. It wasn’t until many centuries later that the first solo circumnavigator took to the helm. The American Joshua Slocum, in his 12 metre engineless yacht “Spray”, achieved this feat in the 188o’s. A book followed documenting his adventures including how he warded off pirates in the Straits of Magellan by placing copper tacks upside down on his deck. Chartless and engineless he tacked through the Straits for days before being swept around Cape Horn backwards by a great storm and forced to transit the strait again in Magellan’s footsteps.
Today, it almost seems that everyone either has or wants to sail around the world. Girls in their teens such as Australian Jessica Watson in her 34 foot yacht “Pink Lady” go out to try and break a record. She had spent much of her life living aboard her parents’ yacht before succeeding in circling the tempestuous Southern Ocean. In reality, the ports, harbours and anchorages are brimming with yachts of all shapes and sizes as they and their crews slowly make their way around the world.
This fraternity has changed dramatically over the last twenty five years. Small yachts, barely larger than 10 metres, plied the trade wind routes in the 1970’s and 1980’s, unknown to the world, but happy on a small budget to achieve a dream. There were no fancy electronics on board and navigation with a sextant and the sun and stars was the norm. There were few lavish marinas to leave a yacht for inland sojourns and many of the yachts people who were in their late twenties or early thirties had no pressing family commitments to detract them from their challenge. A postcard or a quick telephone call from a port was enough to console parents and friends that all was well.
ARC departure from Las Palmas, Canary Islands. November 2005
Circumnavigating in the 21st Century is completely different. Novels, magazine articles and TV presentations about world sailing adventures have attracted a huge following. Every year couples in their 50’s and 60’s swallow their savings into buying yachts with all home comforts and with the intention of turning it into a long term lifestyle and not simply a challenge. A great impetus for this has been the proliferation of rallies that have been staged to cover part of the route. The annual ARC rally is composed of up to 200 yachts that depart the Canaries in November each year to cross the sometimes boisterous North Atlantic. Every conceivable comfort is piled onto the yachts. Electronic navigation aids such as GPS chart plotters, radar, AIS transponders, state of the art EPIRBS, electronic autopilots, desalinators and satellite telephones make navigation and communication somewhat less challenging than in Slocum’s era. All this enables minute by minute weather information; second by second telephone contact with family and a watchful eye by the organizers as the yachts make the 18 day trip. For some this is the start of their circumnavigation and for others simply a trip to the Caribbean and back.
The Blue Water Rally is another organized event that keeps a group of yachts together for two years as they do the run. This sort of rally is more for those taking a short career break whereas most circumnavigators have a five to ten year lifestyle plan and join rallies for shorter legs like the well renowned Sail Indonesia rally which, with a hundred yachts in tow, over three months, visits ports and villages in the Indonesian Archipelago engaging in social events along the way, culminating in Singapore.
Marinas in New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, The Caribbean and The Mediterranean as well as South American countries provide refuge for yachts and their crews in storm and cyclone seasons. This is the time when the intrepid grandparents go back to their home countries to visit their families, deal with financial and health matters while leaving their lifestyle homes under watchful eyes in these refuges. For those that remain with their boats social events are set up often mimicking events back home such as quiz nights, Pilates, darts tournaments and, for the more physical, hiking trips into inland areas. Fitness centres and swimming pools are often on hand as well.
Sailing around the world has become a lifestyle choice rather than an adventure. You can choose your own yacht, your own itinerary, even your own beach! As a retirement option, it will never match Magellan or Slocum’s experiences and it’s hard to find new lands to settle in, but as one old timer, on his third trip from New Zealand up to Tonga once said “It sure beats the rocking chair.”
June 9, 2011 | Alison Williams
Preparations are firmly underway for the prestigious America’s Cup Yacht Race. Billion dollar state of the art multi hull yachts are well beyond the construction stage and have already been taking part in trials around the world in readiness for the next big event that takes place in September 2013. These supremely fast mega yachts are not the ones you see on a Sunday afternoon plying up and down the harbours of Sydney, San Diego, San Francisco, Auckland or Valencia but they are custom built especially for these regular events that bring great status to leading yacht clubs around the world. This will be the first event when the faster multi hull will take over from the monohull with the hope that a new group of spectators will emerge to support this event, designed by and for some of the wealthiest on our planet.
It all began way back in 1851 when a casual annual racing event was taking place around the Isle of White off the south coast of England. The Americans wanted to challenge Britain’s supremacy as a world power so they sailed their own yacht across the Atlantic to challenge the British. To the surprise and consternation of the British they won and took the custom made trophy back to America. As the yacht that won that race was called ‘America”, the trophy was for then onwards known as America’s Cup. It is now commonly referred to as “The Auld Mug” which, made of silver, has had bits added to it to accommodate the increasing list of temporary owners. From then onwards the trophy remained in American hands in relative obscurity until history was made when the Australians wrenched the trophy from the Americans and placed it firmly on the shores of Fremantle harbour in 1983.
This period of retention was short lived and in the next few years was back on American shores until once again the trophy was wrested from their hands in 1995 and found its way to the sailing mad South Pacific nation of New Zealand. The sailing community was not going to let go easily and they retained the trophy and its honour through to 2000.
- San Francisco, 2013 America’s Cup © David Gn – Fotolia.com
The next series in 2003 saw a return to Europe for the first time since 1851 when the Swiss yacht “Alinghi” fought to the bitter end to mount the challenge and won the trophy easily in the one to one race series against Team New Zealand. In a reversal of fortunes, they won again in 2007 in the final against Emirates Team New Zealand off Valencia in Mediterranean waters.
It was too much for the Americans to see small nations take over the limelight of this prestigious yacht race and they won it back again in 2010 under the auspices of the Golden Gate Yacht Club in San Francisco, which is where the 2013 event will take place.
Teams from 13 nations are already lining up yachts, skippers and crews and are running trials in their harbours to select the best of everything to send to the Louis Vuitton challenger selection races commencing in July 2013.
The America’s Cup World Series which is a separate intermediary event has its first races taking place in Cascais, Portugal between the 6th to 14th August 2011 and a further event between the 8th and 10th September in Plymouth, England. This series will showcase the mega fast AC 45 wing sail catamarans and gives the opportunities for teams from Sweden, France, China, Australia, New Zealand, Korea, Italy and the USA to challenge their team skills and the speed of their yachts to extreme limits. It will also get them used to sailing catamarans and their wing sails, which can if necessary be trimmed using electronic devices.
It gives a chance for each country to decide which boat and crew they are going to send to contest the Louis Vuitton Cup, which be will raced in the 22 metre AC 72’s – larger versions of the AC 45’s, with a speed of up to 30 knots, and takes place between 13th July and 1st September 2013. The ultimate winner of the one against one series of individual races is named “The Challenger” and goes on as the sole contender to take on the American “Defender” in and around San Fransisco harbour. The final best of three series takes place between two yachts only and determines which club will display “The Auld Mug” on their mantelpiece.
May 22, 2011 | Alison Williams
The Dutch Class A ship Morgenster, a two masted brig, joined The Tall Ships’ Races for the first time this year, although was originally built as a fishing boat before being recently rigged as a sailing ship. This first race was not only a trial voyage for her, but she was operating as an international exchange vessel with 12 nationalities of trainees on board.
The trainees, from Australia, Bermuda, Brazil, France, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, UK and the USA, all met for the first time in Liverpool where they joined the ship. For many this was their first experience on a tall ship while others had experienced different ships in different countries. All, however, are now firm friends.
New Zealander Ben Dickson joined the ship after being offered a place through the Australian National Sail Training Organisation of which he is a member. The 21 year old often sails on Spirit of New Zealand as a volunteer crew member but was delighted to be able to come to Europe to take part in The Tall Ships’ Races. Maria Cooper, 17, from Sweden has sailed on her school ship Gunilla a few times but also wanted to take part in the race and decided to join Morgenster, although had no idea what she looked like until she saw the ship in Liverpool. For Daniel Karapolos, 20, this was his very first time sailing and was encouraged to do so by his Greek father who has been instrumental in the recent creation of the Greek National Sail Training Organisation.
Daniel, who has Dutch nationality, said he had no idea what to expect before he joined the ship except that he thought it sounded like an adventure. “The friends I’ve made have been great although sometimes I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing as many people knew what to do and got on with it, because it was a race.”
The international crew were very keen on doing everything they could to win the race and were constantly trimming the sails, especially at night when it was quiet. “Then we had no wind and that was frustrating, although to start with we thought it was great to lie in the sun, but then we wanted to be doing something,” said Daniel. The ship finally came in 6th in her class and 9th overall.
With so many nationalities on board, a special ‘ship’s language’ was developed which borrowed words from many different languages, but which everyone understood. “We would often tease each other about their different accents,” said Maria, “and then we tried to cook something from each of our countries, which wasn’t particularly easy with the lack of ingredients!” Another game they played was to pick up a cereal packet from the deck in their teeth, which Maria said was easier said than done, “particularly in the middle of the night with the ship heeling over!”
Ben said they danced the samba one night, “but that’s not easy to do in seaboots and full wet weather gear!” The three of them have really enjoyed their stay on board and think that Maløy is beautiful. “It is very strange to have such long days and still be able to see everything even at 4 in the morning,” Ben said.
Ben and Maria said their experience on board Morgenster was very different to their previous experiences on Spirit of New Zealand and Gunilla respectively. “Gunilla has a very structured approach to the way they do things and so it was strange to be on a ship which was much freer,” said Maria, who joins Gunilla again in September for another voyage from Sweden to Spain.
Daniel said he would love to have another opportunity to sail again and thought that would probably be during the Historical Seas Tall Ships Regatta which was taking place in 2010 from Greece to Bulgaria and Turkey. “It is hard to imagine having a better time as I’ve really made some great friends,” he said.
Ben summed up the experience by saying, “I think you make better friends on a Tall Ship than you do in your daily life,” a sentiment which the others agreed with.
August 3, 2008 | admin