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Americas Cup Review recommendations… but you can’t make a potential death trap safe

Screen Shot 2013-05-23 at 02.48.51Summary

The show must go on (which was what was expected). These things are are potentially death traps, so let’s see what we can do to make the recovery after accidents better; improve structural integrity of the boats, provide better protection, bouyancy & breathing apparatus for crews, and have more support boats with divers and body bags.

BTW I am not sure that I could have come up with a better set of recommendations if the mandate was “race the AC72s”

You can see the recommendations here and draw your own conclusions.

Split opinion

The sentiment around the City of San Francisco, the sailors around the world and the teams is split.

Some are all for the AC72s as it is the pinnacle of racing and is driving the sport forward. If you are on the bleeding edge then there is inevitable risk and danger. Ask any aircraft test pilot or those chasing land, water or air speed records. The recent Red Bull sponsored highest every parachute jump by Felix Baumgartner’s was not without huge personal risk. I remember watching an early Formula 1 racing car driver being interviewed. When asked what was the difference between winning and losing his answer was chilling  – “I am prepared to die”.

An alternative view is that this was a chance for the America Cup to shake off the image of being an elitist rich boys toys event.  12 AC45s racing in the America Cup World Series started to regain that image. It was an exciting spectacle in boats that were broadly the same. It was starting to engage the public beyond hardened, passionate sailors. That was clear from the size of the crowds that gathered to watch the racing. A move back to AC45s for the America’s Cup would increase the racing and reduce the risks. The safety and integrity of the boats is proven. The crowd drawing ability of the racing is proven. It would seem to be the obvious recommendation.

Unachievable in the time frame?

Having read the recommendations many of them seem unachievable in the short time between now and the start of teh Louis Vuitton Cup in just 5 weeks

1. The yacht recommendations could require a significant rebuild of yachts. But even less time is available because further reviews recommended; AC72 Yacht Structural Review & Daggerboard Rake Control Hydraulic System
2. Personal equipment – again “further investigation” recommended but these are probably more achievable
3. Should the inevitable happen the recommendations are to have more people on hand to try and recover people from water. But what about splintering carbon fibre when crew cannot get clear as they are tethered  See 1.4
4. Race course..  interesting that the fast reach to reach bear away has been kept in, but limits on wind speed and keep spectators away from potential dangre make sense.

The greatest show on earth

I hope that the changes are able to be implemented and that no further accidents occur as a huge amount of effort has gone into making AC34 a huge spectacle. I have a vest interest as LessAdmin is sponsor of the local San Francisco Red Bull Youth teams. They race 1-4 September in the Red Bull Youth Americas Cup and hope that the interest in the America’s Cup is still as strong by the time they get out on the water.

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