Written by Scott Alle
The widely-canvassed scenario of the ditching of the ACC high-speed catamarans which delivered thrills and spills in Bermuda has firmed up considerably over the past few days, with Emirates Team New Zealand confirming a suggestion the next America’s Cup will be sailed in high performance monohull yachts.
In a statement ETNZ revealed “Emirates Team New Zealand have been consulting with a number of potential challengers and there is an overall desire to have a spectacular monohull yacht that will be exciting to match race, but also one that the public and sailors can relate to as a sail boat that really challenges a full crew of professional yachtsman around the race track.”
“Currently there are a team of designers, lead by Emirates Team New Zealand design coordinator Dan Bernasconi working on various exciting monohull concepts which will eventually help shape the AC36 Class Rule,” the statement continued.
Rumours of a switch back to monohulls gathered pace after Patrizio Bertelli, who heads challenger of record Luna Rossa, told Italian newspaper La Stampa that the event would be moving away from catamarans.
“It was the condition for Luna Rossa to help them [New Zealand] with men and means in the last edition,” Bertelli told La Stampa.
The latest developments follow an announcement on July 18 that these two teams are considering the possibility of the 36th America’s Cup Match and the preceding Challenger Selection Series being conducted in Auckland in early 2021 during the New Zealand summer.
Additionally, they intend for the Protocol to contain a “constructed in country” requirement for competing yachts and a nationality requirement for competing crew members.
Team New Zealand, as the winner of the 35th America’s Cup, and Circolo della Vela Sicilia, as the Challenger of Record, are said to be both working on high-speed monuhulls. Other potential teams including Sir Ben Ainslie’s Land Rover BAR say they have not yet received any official communication from Emirates Team New Zealand regarding the new class of boat for the 36th America’s Cup, despite the defender’s statement suggesting that sailing’s most prestigious event would be moving to a “spectacular monohull yacht” for the next edition.
As defenders, New Zealand have the right to decide on the new protocols. However, Ainslie said after the Kiwis 7-1 win over Oracle Team USA in the final of the 34th Cup in June that he felt it would be a “mistake” to go back to monohulls now, given how spectacular the early racing was in Bermuda.
But the outspoken British sailing knight has also said while Land Rover BAR were committed to the next cycle regardless of the class of boat, he felt “a lot of teams” might leave if there was not something which was “commercially sustainable on the table”.
Rumours of an Australian syndicate preparing to take a tilt at the 36th AC have yet to be confirmed, along with whether Oracle Team USA, Artemis, Team Groupama or SoftBank Team Japan will be mounting new challenges.
Emirates Team New Zealand boss Grant Dalton revealed last month that the protocol for 2021 was “basically done” and they were only tweaking details.
The 2019-20 edition of the Volvo Ocean Race will feature foiling monohulls with the revolutionary 60-foot boats the brainchild of Emirates Team New Zealand designer Guillaume Verdier.
It’s expected they will be able to foil at speeds of 35-40 knots in 20 knots of wind, hinting at the possibilities of an America’s Cup monohull.
The top speeds achieved by the catamarans at the last two Cup was 47.57 knots by Team New Zealand in their giant 72-footer in San Francisco.
Further details of the Protocol for the 36th America’s Cup are expected to announced at the end of the month.