(Click on the image below to see it in larger scale)
What the columns mean
Win Rate: The percentage of Wins v. Losses in the match racing during the 2005 & 2006 Louis Vuitton Act seasons.
Budget: The budget for the teams for the 32nd America’s Cup cycle (2004-2007)
Average Age: The average age of the sailing team, ie not including shore crew, designers, admin etc
Experience: The number of Cup years experience within the sailing team. For this calculation we assumed each campaign was worth two years’ experience. For example, Alinghi’s team has taken part in 103 previous campaigns between them, making their Cup experience 206 years.
Cup Wins: The number of Cup wins within the sailing team.
Analysis of the Sailing Teams
America’s Cup is all about age and experience, although of course a bit of money helps too. It seems the best thing you can do with your money is to buy Cup experience. The older you are and the more Cup campaigns you’ve done before, the better you can expect to fare in the America’s Cup, according to some analysis carried about by SailJuice.com and German newspaper Die Welt. Placing the Defender Alinghi at the top of the table, followed by the 11 challengers listed in order of the Louis Vuitton Ranking up to Act 12, we have analysed the teams under a number of criteria.
Firstly, just to clarify one point, you’ll see that the teams’ win rates do not follow the order of the table. For example Mascalzone Latino (42% win rate) sits above Victory Challenge (50% win rate). This is because the Italians had a poor season in 2005 but followed up with a much better 2006 season, when each victory was allocated double points under the complicated Louis Vuitton Ranking system. We decided to use the pure win/lose rate from the past two Act seasons as a more accurate way of ranking the teams in order of merit.
100m Euro is all you need…
So, what do the figures tell us? Looking at the Budget column, it is hard to argue with the idea that money talks in the America’s Cup. If this analysis is anything to go by, the more money you have, the better you can expect to fare in the Cup. But once you start approaching the 100m Euro mark, the law of diminishing returns begins to take over. For example, while we have put a conservative estimate of 120m Euro for BMW Oracle Racing, some believe the American team has spent quite a bit more. Emirates Team New Zealand are reckoned to have spent the least of the ‘big four’ teams with a budget of around 80m Euro, and yet they are currently ahead of BMW Oracle in the rankings.
Show 'em how, Grandad!
According to the Average Age column, the older the team, the better you’ll do. Alinghi is by far the oldest team on the block, with a whopping average of 40 years. The other five team in the top half of the table all average 36 or 37 years, while the bottom six have an average in the early 30s. Under 30-year-olds barely get a look-in with the top teams. There is just one sailor under 30 in both Alinghi and New Zealand, and just two ‘nippers’ in BMW Oracle. So at about the point that a professional footballer’s career is running out of steam, a pro Cup sailor’s is just beginning.
Battle scars are good…
In terms of past Cup experience, the ‘big four’ have been very greedy. Taking our conservative assumption that every Cup campaign completed by a team member is worth two years, the top four teams boast 658 years’ experience, almost double the experience of the other eight teams put together, who between them can muster only 366 years.
Cup victories are even better…
If having Cup winners in your team is key to victory in the 32nd America’s Cup, then the picture is even more bleak for the bottom eight. Between them, they have just 7 previous Cup wins to their name, compared with 69 successful Cup campaigns in the ‘big four’. Alinghi is the runaway leader in this category, boasting 36 Cup-winning campaigns in their sailing team. Not surprising when you think of the core group of Kiwis like Brad Butterworth, Mike Drummond, Warwick Fleury, Simon Daubney and Murray Jones who have each won the Cup three times. In fact, Jones has only taken part in three Cup campaigns, so he has a 100% hit rate.
If Cup-winning experience really is as valuable as the raw statistics would suggest, then United Internet Team Germany’s last-minute appointment of Dave Dellenbaugh looks sensible, as the American was the Cup-winning tactician in San Diego 1992.
One team that is punching above its weight in a few categories is +39 Challenge. Although the Italian team has a stated budget of 30m Euros, it’s hard to see where the money has been spent. Less than 24 hours before the start of Louis Vuitton Act 13, the team were seen hard at work stepping their first Version 5 mast, a mast that they will never have sailed with before when racing starts. Despite the faltering, financially-hampered progress of this team, they are still doing OK in the Louis Vuitton Ranking. Maybe the experience from having four Olympic medals in the sailing team is helping +39 make the best of what they’ve got.
So what do you reckon? Can a team defy the statistics and come from the middle ranks to win the Cup? The bare figures suggest that Alinghi is still the team to beat, but surely it's not as simple as that?