The third in a new series published exclusively on www.INEOSBritannia.com digging deeper into the Protocol for the 37th America’s Cup. To read the second part in the series with COO Dave Endean, click here.
In this part, we are joined by Team Principal and helm of INEOS Britannia, Sir Ben Ainslie, who speaks about Barcelona, the venue for the 37th America’s Cup, and what it means for the teams logistics, weather performance and how it opens the doors for other teams to enter the America’s Cup.
Is it a Bold Protocol?
The 37th Protocol draws out several significant changes for the layout of the AC75, foil design and total boat weight as a means of improving its performance. The Protocol also calls for a big push towards sustainability with the development of hydrogen chase boats, as well the Women’s America’s Cup being held for the first time in history. It's a serious statement for the for the sport for the American squat in the sport of sailing.”
With every America’s Cup campaign, the location has always been much anticipated. As winners of the 36th America’s Cup, Emirates Team New Zealand were in the ‘hot seat’ this year to choose a venue. “Emirates Team New Zealand have to be applauded for coming up with a fantastic venue. Barcelona is one of the most iconic cities anywhere in the world, and is a great sailing city. We've seen the 1992 Olympics held there, as well as other major sporting events. The Americas Cup will be fantastic for both the city of Barcelona, and Cup itself.”
What It Means for INEOS Britannia
A venue selection for a team is critical as it determines logistics, planning and sailing times. “Now that we have a venue, in the wonderful venue that is Barcelona, we can start looking at what do we need on the ground in Barcelona. What are the options in terms of a base? A base layout? Accommodation? Travel to and from our home base? We can start ticking off these sorts of questions.” The venue announcement also helps inform a team’s budget, by knowing more about what the operating costs are going to at the final venue. “All of these details are really important to any team trying to operate at this level.”
Weather Performance in Barcelona
Ainslie is an experienced sailor in Barcelona water, where he has always had great sailing conditions throughout the years. The 37th America’s Cup final is due to take place in September and October of 2024, where Ben comments, “we expect to see a range of conditions, which can be really challenging from a design perspective.” From the shore, the racing will take place right off the coast of the Barcelona marina. “It will be an unbelievable opportunity for the America’s Cup to really showcase what the events are about, allow the fans to get up close to the boats and teams, and create a real America's Cup village atmosphere.” Because of COVID and travel restrictions during the 36th America’s Cup in New Zealand, much of the ‘buzz’ was missing in the race village and town. “ As we start to come out of this COVID environment and into such an iconic city like Barcelona, with its rich maritime legacy, all of that married together should make for an absolutely unbelievable event.”
Who Will Win the America’s Cup?
Emirates Team New Zealand have been a dominant team over the past 2 Campaigns, winning the AC75 in Bermuda in 2017, and then the AC36 in Auckland in 2021. “Nobody should be under any illusions just how difficult the task is to unseat a defender that we now know are well funded through this venue deal”, Ben states. “Team New Zealand has a fantastic sailing team, and design team that has dominated the last few cycles of the cup. To unseat a defender that is that well-resourced, financially and in terms of its people, is incredibly difficult to do, but that something we are up for.”
Barcelona will be a great challenge for the teams from a sailing and design perspective and can encourage any new potential challenger to enter. “With the Cup in Europe, it is an easy venue to get to logistically, I wouldn’t be surprised to see another team challenge, Ben speculates”. “From that perspective, it's a great venue”, Ben says.
As the teams look to race the AC75 for a second time during this campaign, it is going to be a difficult challenge for the design team. “Because of the varying and changeable conditions in Barcelona during September and October, the design team is tasked with coming up with a concept that can be competitive across a range of conditions and sea states.”
“It has been a great morale boost for the team to Barcelona announced as a venue as it has given us a deadline and time frame to develop the fastest boat.
“To be in such an iconic sailing city, given the history of the America's Cup, we couldn’t have asked for a better venue. We're absolutely delighted and can't wait to get there, get out on the water, and race in 2024.”