Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Paul Cayard updates from Valencia

[Source: Cayard Sailing] I have been here in Valencia for 3 weeks now. My new job as Sports Director of Desafio Español has been keeping me busy. Desafio has a good base from which to start the challenge for the 33rd America's Cup; two good ACC boats, a fully staffed and operational base. The main sponsor, Iberdrola, is back supporting the team with more budget than last time. We are certainly not the richest team on the block but we have a good base to build on.

Farr Yacht Design was hired in September to be the main designer for the team. One of the advantages with Farr is that they are a team of people. This means they have their procedures and systems for working together and covering a large number of the technical tasks. This should be a nice advantage with the time frame for this Cup being so short, and with construction of the first boat needing to begin in early spring.

Our days start at 0800 with a 90 minute gym workout. We are starting with a fairly strong aerobic program and then moving into strength training. For sure, the new class of boat will be very demanding for the crew. The bigger and stronger the better for most. There will be 12 people grinding most of the time on 6 pedestals. Everyone is a grinder at some point. There will be plenty to do in the gym and in the dining room over the next 18 months.

Paul Cayard during his first press conference as Sports Director of Desafío Español. Valencia, 18 October 2007. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

Breakfast is at 0930, then a head of departments meeting and crew meeting to set the plan for the day in motion. Most days we sail, but the weather can be uncooperative here in the winter. So far we have been lucky. We have two sailing programs; 1) is racing the ACC boat from the last Cup against another team or 2) racing the two Swedish Match 40s we recently acquired. The SW 40's are excellent for training the specific discipline of match racing. Friday for example, the Germans were on vacation so we got our race committee and umpires to run a series of races in the SW40's. We were on the race course for 4 hours. We must have done 12 starts and 3 or 4 complete races.

If we don't sail, or in any case before and after sailing, we manage to squeeze in a few meetings. As this is the beginning of a new campaign, there are plenty of things to get sorted out. I have lists for the lists. It is hard not to feel overwhelmed but I know we will get through it. In the sailing department, I am working closely with Tony Rey of Newport R.I., Laureano Wizner and Santiago Lopez of Spain. All three of whom were on Desafio last time. We have about 70% of the crew we need so we are hosting some tryouts in these months before Christmas.

Tony and I will escape back to the USA for Thanksgiving and then be back in VLC until mid December. The whole team is off until February 4th. During this time a number of upgrades will be done to the base to improve it both from an aesthetic point of view as well as functionality.

The America's Cup Port is a bit of a ghost town compared to June. There is a lot of work going on in the harbor as the Formula One races will come to Valencia next year and in 2009 so they are working on the road course. In fact, we will be shut out of our bases all of August next year.

We are all waiting for the court decision of course. However, at the same time, we must move forward. If the decision is in favor of Alinghi, then things will move very quickly and we don't want to be on the back foot. If things go in favor of BMW Oracle, that will probably slow things down a bit while BMW Oracle and Alinghi re- negotiate the Protocol or even race in Cats somewhere in the Bearing Sea.

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