Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Bigger boats for the 33rd? Surely not

Now we’re into the intriguing limbo between the 32nd America’s Cup, which concluded yesterday, and the 33rd which begins tomorrow with the press conference where hopefully we get to find out things like where and when.

Most people are betting on Valencia 2009, but there’s another rumour in circulation that Alinghi have gone for a change of boats, that the next one might be contested in 100-footers. Speaking to Brad Butterworth today, he was certainly in favour of a change. He reckons that the predominantly light Mediterranean conditions call for something more powerful and dynamic.

Having said that, there has been no better advertisement for the ACC class than what we’ve seen over the past week. Would faster boats have produced such compelling match racing? It’s hard to imagine, so much as I’ve been an advocate of faster boats in the past, I have to admit I’ve been swayed by the appeal of slower boats.

Nothing in the Louis Vuitton Cup convinced me of the merit of these Version 5 boats in producing close racing on a consistent basis, but once we saw two evenly matched teams in The Match, these boats finally lived up to their promise of producing close contests.

However, if Brad thinks faster would be better (and by the way so does his best mate Russell), then that’s good enough for me. I will be amazed if we get a change of boats for the 33rd, though. I think the stronger imperative right now is to have a fast follow-up to the Cup just gone, and that Valencia 2009 is the bigger priority.

A two-year timeline with the added expense and complication of a new class seems highly unlikely. And would be rather irksome for the Germans who are already well into construction of GER 101!

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