I've just published a story about 49er sailors in the America's Cup. There's an excerpt of it below, but for the full text click here.
Emirates Team New Zealand has not looked as sharp as people had expected in the early phases of the Louis Vuitton Cup. One of the reasons suggested has been the injury to the team’s strategist Adam Beashel, whose finger was badly mashed in a winch during Louis Vuitton Act 13. Fortunately surgery later that night meant that Beashel’s finger could be saved, although he has yet to recover to the point where he is fit enough to go racing again.
Beashel’s speciality is sniffing out the best lines of breeze from his lofty perch up the top of NZL 92’s mast. With the wind having been in short supply in Valencia since the beginning of the Louis Vuitton Cup, that sixth sense for finding the best breeze can be a race winner. The Kiwis will be pleased when Beashel is fit enough to get back up the rig on those light and fickle days.
Beashel is one of a number of sailors who graduated to the America’s Cup from the Olympic skiff class, the 49er. At first sight, you’d wonder what the connection between an ultra-light 16-foot two-man dinghy and an 80-foot 24-tonne keelboat would be, but according to Luna Rossa tactician Charlie McKee there are some useful similarities. “Downwind in a Cup boat you’re sailing quite big angles, like you do in a 49er,” says McKee, a double Olympic medallist and former World Champion in the 49er. “The other thing is that both a Cup boat and a 49er travel pretty much at wind speed downwind, so you learn to look in the right place for the breeze.”