The first in a new series published exclusively on www.INEOSBritannia.com digging deeper into the Protocol for the 37th America’s Cup.
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The 37th America’s Cup Protocol was revealed this past October with an emphasis of an evolution of the previous Protocol, rather than revolution. The new Protocol, which sets the foundations and rules of participation for all teams in the 37th America’s Cup, was published alongside the latest version of the Class Rule, the document which specifies the requirements for each team’s race boat. These two documents together total over 150 pages between them, and they are by no means simple or easy to understand.
This brand-new series, ‘A Bold Protocol’, will break down and explain the key elements of this innovative and forward-looking AC37 Protocol.
To begin, we will be delving into the areas of the Protocol that will make the biggest impact to the sailing team. To explain more, we caught up with our senior sailor and double Olympic Gold winning medallist Giles Scott, who was Tactician onboard the team’s AC75 in the 36th America’s Cup.
Second Generation AC75
With new tweaks and revisions designed to improve the AC75s performance, there is plenty in the new Protocol for Scott and the wider sailing team to get their teeth stuck into. Perhaps the most important thing for them, however, is not a change at all but the fact that for the second straight America’s Cup, the team will be racing in the AC75 class.
“Every America's Cup that I've done so far”, Scott explained, “it's been a first-generation boat. To be able to step into this 37th America’s Cup with the foundation already in place in terms of what has been done in a AC75 before is pretty cool. It’s great to know that we'll be able to launch a boat and we should, in theory, be able to send it from day one.
“When the class got released five or so years ago now, there were a lot of people that questioned whether or not it was even going to be possible for a boat like that to work. It’s ended up being an amazing boat to watch and it’s certainly the best way I’ve ever sailed so I can’t wait to see what the future holds for this class.”
Whilst the AC75 will continue for a second generation, that is not to say that there are no notable changes to the class itself. Together with the Defender Team New Zealand, the INEOS Britannia team in their role as Challenger of Record has been working hard to tweak the AC75 to improve its performance, particularly in the light airs.
Crew Numbers + Cyclors
The new Protocol states that the crew list has gone from 11 down to eight sailors. With a set limit of four of the crew providing power. These four crew can provide power through cycling, grinding, or any other means the team decides. The four other crew cannot produce power, however teams are free to distribute sailing roles as they see fit between the eight crew.
“I think it's a good way to reduce the crew numbers”, Scott commented. “Last time, most teams were running seven or eight grinders, and now going forward, we'll all likely be running with cyclors. I think it’s pretty well known that you’re able to produce more power with your legs.”
The reduced crew will have a significant impact on each team’s respective playbook and how they will sail the boat. The 36th America’s Cup already proved how different each team’s approach could be, with Luna Rossa notably opting for a dual-helm strategy. For Scott, that only makes the racing even more exciting.
“It’s definitely going to lead to substantial changes in each team’s playbook. How exactly each team will decide to break that down, we don’t know yet. I think each team will develop their own strategy and no team will be exactly the same. We’ve certainly got ideas on how we’re going to launch at the moment but equally we are very early in our campaign and so it can change.”
The return of cyclors, meanwhile, provides an additional opportunity for competitive advantage to the INEOS Britannia team who, as part of the wider INEOS sport family, will also have the chance to gain insight from the INEOS Grenadiers cycling team which Scott hopes will prove to be a fruitful partnership for the development of the team’s cyclors. INEOS Britannia’s Head of Human Performance from the 36th America’s Cup Ben Williams is currently working with the INEOS Grenadiers as their Integrated Performance Lead.
Another notable change made to the Protocol is the removal of the Code Zero, and with that the bowsprit. The Code Zero was the largest sail and designed for use in light winds, but no team used them during the 36th America’s Cup as it immediately became clear that the window to use them was just too small.
With the Code Zero removed, the bowsprit too is no longer required, and by taking both out of the equation “you can get an awful lot of weight out of the boat, which is just going to help the yacht take off earlier anyway”, Scott explains.
The winch systems for the jib are also no longer a requirement. This opens up the use of hydraulically controlled options, which should lead to weight and efficiency gains. The running backstays have also been removed, a further reduction to the overall weight. Overall, including the reduced crew numbers, around 1000KG has been saved in the weight of the boat, greatly improving the boat’s performance in lighter winds.
“As well as the weight, the span of the foils has changed as well,” Scott added, “so there's been a big push within the development of the Class Rule to get these boats up and out of the water and foiling around in less wind.”
This Protocol has addressed the issues with the design of the first generation AC75 in the lighter air and prioritises getting the boats up and out of the water foiling in less wind.
With the venue has yet to be announced, these changes should allow for more thrilling racing wherever AC37 may take place, as the new rules allow the boats to be more dynamic and race ready, even in the light winds.
AC40 – Women’s & Youth America’s Cups
For all preliminary races in this campaign, the teams are required to use an AC40, a new 40-foot one-design foiling monohull concept based on the AC75 designed by Team New Zealand. These smaller boats will only have four crew, and all power will come from batteries. Each team will have the option to test design ideas on the AC40 to use it as a testing platform before the AC75. For Scott, that is another example of a cost-saving measure designed to bring more Challengers into the America’s Cup.
“I think in doing that, it provides especially new teams with a cost-effective way of being able to iterate design without spending an awful lot of money on having to build to AC75s, which is what every team did in the last America's Cup.”
The AC40 is also the boat that will be used for the Youth Americas’ Cup and the first ever Women’s America’s Cup. These events will not only be hugely exciting for the global audience watching at home, on the water or onshore, but will do a significant amount to support the creation of an improved pathway into high performance sailing.
“The AC40 should be an amazing boat to sail and a brilliant boat to race in. It is going to be nice to have some preliminary regattas to get our teeth into in the build up to AC37. Then, bringing back the Youth America's Cup and bringing in the Women's America's Cup is a massive step forward for the sport and the America's Cup as a whole. We can’t wait.”
For Scott, the improved performance across the wind range of the AC75, alongside the exciting new addition of the AC40, provides a tantalising prospect ahead for the coming years. It’s clear he can’t wait to get onboard his ‘favourite boat to race’ and get stuck in on the action. For any more new, exciting developments from INEOS Britannia, Scott is clear he can’t give too much away just yet…
“Watch this space”.