Thursday, January 15, 2009

Valencia Sailing talks to Tom Schnackenberg

Today the final meeting between the designers of all 19 teams that take part in the 33rd America's Cup took place in the Alinghi base in Valencia, in order to work out the remaining details of the new America's Cup yacht, to be used in the 2010 event, if of course Alinghi prevails in the New York court case. Valencia Sailing talked to Tom Schnackenberg, coordinating the design of the new class rule.

Valencia Sailing: You have just finished the designers meeting on the new America’s Cup class rule. Has the rule been finalized?
Tom Schnackenberg: Not yet, but we’ve made another step along the way. We will probably have an additional 3 or 4 iterations before the end of the month and the rule will be finalized. It will also be made public on the 31st of January.

Valencia Sailing: You are in charge of the whole process. What were you looking for when you initially came up with the concept of the new boat?
Tom Schnackenberg: We were looking for something that would be exciting and demanding for the crews, would reward skills and skill development. That would make it worthwhile for people to work hard in making the boat go fast. Of course we also wanted something that would provide really good racing and yet at the same time would be more economical than what we had a year ago. The AC90 was the biggest monohull yacht we could imagine in a way, apart from building long overhangs like a J boat.

Valencia Sailing: You compare the new class to the AC90 a year ago. But what about 2 years ago? Didn’t we have in 2007 exciting and demanding boats? Alinghi has often stated that we had very exciting racing in 2007. What was the reason for the change?
Tom Schnackenberg: I agree we had very exciting racing but the boats were getting a little type cast. We were getting into a very narrow design corner, something that hadn’t been envisioned when the class was first dreamed up. There was a feeling between the Defender and the Challenger of Record that it was the time for a new boat, an idea that was enthusiastically picked up by all the participants.

Group photo of the designers working on the new America's Cup boat. Valencia, 15 January 2009. Photo copyright Carlo Borlenghi / Alinghi

Valencia Sailing: You also talk about lower costs. Is this a cheaper boat than Version 5 of the current ACC yachts?
Tom Schnackenberg: I’m not sure what the answer is but it must be pretty similar.

Valencia Sailing: Can you give us any details about the new boat? Length, beam, displacement, sail plan?
Tom Schnackenberg: No, not today. You’ll have it all on the 31st of January.

Valencia Sailing: Will these boats be raced outside of the America’s Cup?
Tom Schnackenberg: The idea is to also have them race outside of the America’s Cup and every time we talk about the rule we keep that in the back of our minds.

Valencia Sailing: Don’t you then run the risk of losing their appeal or mystery? I mean, if they sail in the Copa del Rey they will be just another maxi class.
Tom Schnackenberg: The idea is to always race in a class of their own. Take the 12 meters for example. They are an international class, an ISAF class and their races outside of the Cup didn’t diminish their prestige or glamor. They can for example have World Championships and as a result, the answer to your question is no. They will not race, for example in IRC, with other yachts. They will be on their own.

Valencia Sailing: How much different are they going to be from the current boats.
Tom Schnackenberg: I can’t get into the details but the idea is to have more responsive yachts and give designers a little bit more freedom. That’s all I can say at this stage.

Valencia Sailing: Have you taken into consideration any type of wind conditions for this particular boat?
Tom Schnackenberg: I don’t know the final answer to that actually. It’s something we are still discussing and have discussed a lot in the last couple of days. I can’t give you a good answer.

Valencia Sailing: How much were the challengers involved in the decision-making process? Has the rule been modified from the initial version you presented to the challengers?
Tom Schnackenberg: Look, there is one defender and 18 challengers and all participated in this process. Some of the challengers in a lesser extent while others in a greater. There have been a lot of changes made to the original concept. Some suggestions were immediately accepted, we all said, “yes, that looks good, let’s do it”. Other ideas were talked over longer. I could tell you more about that a little bit after the rule is published.

Group photo of the designers working on the new America's Cup boat. Valencia, 15 January 2009. Photo copyright Carlo Borlenghi / Alinghi

Valencia Sailing: If the idea is to have the America’s Cup match sometime in the summer of 2010, will the smaller teams have any chance to come up with something competitive in 12 months?
Tom Schnackenberg: Sure. Most of the teams have already made their plans about design and boat building. I don’t think anyone would have any disadvantage at all.

Valencia Sailing: Will the original concept of limiting team-training still be valid?
Tom Schnackenberg: As you know, with the AC90 we had a concept of providing racing for teams. Training interaction between teams was limited to practice races organized by ACM. We haven’t sorted out the details but the plans are to continue on the same concept.

Valencia Sailing: Will the existing team bases need any modifications for the new boats?
Tom Schnackenberg: I really can’t answer that but it wouldn’t make any sense to talk about cost-cutting measures and at the same time design something that would require spending money on the bases. This is not comparable to the AC90. The boat was much bigger, the mastwas much taller; it was completely different.

Valencia Sailing: Have you had enough time to develop the new rule or is it going to be a Swiss cheese, full of holes?
Tom Schnackenberg: We had already made a lot of progress last year and that helps. You know, on the fundamental of the rule. We will publish it on the 31st. This is what we did last time. We allowed a little bit of time for people that hadn’t looked at the rule yet, from anywhere in the world, to check whether something wrong or confusing was obvious. However, it is planned that the basic rule parameters would not change after publication on the 31st January.

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At 8:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Look, its all the challengers working together with the defender. Resolving disagreements, and coming up with a more economic class. All the teams working together, and on Jan 31st they will issue their new protocol.

Wait a minute, one team is missing. Oh yeah, BMWO and Mr. Larry! They are busy blocking everybodys effort and trying to win the cup in the court room ....

At 9:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where are all the designers? The photos show a bunch of sailors and attorneys, with a handful of boat designers ... where are the other boat designers?

At 10:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If they are serious about saving costs, why not develop a class rule where the existing AC rigs, sails and appendages could be used?
This would save significant costs in both the design development and r&d side, as well as actual cost of building and supplying spares, etc.

At 1:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

strange photo / who are they / is that Ross Field I see on the left - who´s he with ?

At 7:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Strange photo indeed - allegedly designers from 'all 19 teams', yet of the 22 people shown at least 3 are with Alinghi (Schnack, Simmer, Vrolik) and since when have Ross, Vasco, Cutler, Pace and Saenz become designers? Where are 'all the designers' working on the new rule?

At 8:05 PM, Anonymous Norberto the imposter said...

The photo was staged, all of the people present are impostors. Its all one giant Alinghi cover-up and nobody has noticed it yet! Alinghi is trying to steal the cup again from the rightful owners in the USA, that's why they have recruited all those "poodle-teams". Its all a giant Ponzi scheme! They are trying to steal what belongs only to the Americans - the AC.

At 3:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Annon and other 'followers'

Indeed you are correct. It is Ross Field 'in the picture' as it were.

Why is he there? Simply - because that is where he always is : where the money is and disloyality lies.

That's him.......


At 3:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

o yes, indeed it is Ross Field you see to the left.

Where there is money, deceit and disloyality - Ross will be there. No worries!!!


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