Thursday, June 03, 2010

Paul Cayard talks to Valencia Sailing

Paul Cayard, skipper of Artemis and president of the WSTA (World Sailing Teams Association) talked to us from La Maddalena about the recent successes of his team but also the latest developments in the Louis Vuitton circuit and the possible future developments in the America's Cup.

Cayard gave some interesting hints on how the 34th America's Cup could play out. Firstly, he prefers the Cup to take place in 2013 and sees the teams starting the construction of their new yachts around June 2011 in view of a March 2012 launch.

Valencia Sailing: Artemis has shown an upward trend in the Louis Vuitton regattas, 7th in Nice, then 4th in Auckland and now at the top of the Round Robin. What is the key to this undeniable progress?
Paul Cayard: I think it's just the fact it takes a little bit of time to get 17 individuals to really work together as a team. In the afterguard we have all been through many scenarios, technical and boat-handling wise, and built a play book so that you know the answers to all the possible scenarios before they arise. You can therefore foresee them and execute. I know for myself and Terry during a couple of critical moments in racing here where we could foresee the situation coming 30 seconds beforehand and one word was enough communication between us in order to know exactly what to do and we always came at the upside of the situation.

That wasn't the case six months ago. I don't think there's anything mysterious here and it falls in line with why Team New Zealand has been so good for so long and they have been racing together for almost ten years. There's value in that.

Valencia Sailing: So, is it the Team New Zealand model you want to emulate on Artemis?
Paul Cayard: Certainly team cohesiveness and being used to sailing together are valuable and these are rules that apply to everybody. Look at Luna Rossa and BMW Oracle here in La Maddalena. It's not that all of a sudden Torben Grael or Ed Baird forgot to sail, it's just the fact they probably haven't sailed together before. There's a huge value in investing in a team.

Valencia Sailing: So, what is the next step for Artemis? Challenge for the 34th America's Cup?
Paul Cayard: Last year we started by forming a team that could be competitive and I now feel that we are. We might not perform as well as Team New Zealand but we can see we have made progress and we have a process to keep making progress. That gives us reason to go forward and become a challenger.

Valencia Sailing: The Round Robin is now over but it took exactly 13 days to accomplish that. Do you think that in La Maddalena the current format of the Louis Vuitton Trophies reached its limit with 4 boats and 10 teams, especially after the unfortunate crash at the beginning?
Paul Cayard: The short answer to that is yes, we could build in insurance so that we don't get so exposed. Obviously, after we had the accident that was bad because it not only changed the schedule and slowed everything down but, almost more important than that, it put the entire event at risk because if we had one more accident the event would be over. We have to find another way, maybe with 6 boats, and we are obviously discussing that in the WSTA board and we are going to find a solution to make the event more robust from that standpoint.

Valencia Sailing: Do you agree with Grant Dalton's recent statement that the boats in La Maddalena are "substandard"?
Paul Cayard: No, I don't agree with that.

Paul Cayard calling tactics on Artemis. La Maddalena, 1 June 2010. Photo copyright Sander van der Borch / Artemis

Valencia Sailing: About two months ago you made a speech in Costa Mesa, California where you talked about the possibility of the organization designing and building the first 4 new America's Cup yachts. Do you still stick to that plan?
Paul Cayard: No, we now think it's better with each team building their own new boat while the plan you mention would have worked for a Cup in 2014. I think a 2013 America's Cup date is better for commercial reasons, between the Olympics and the world soccer. The year 2013 is better because the calendar is not full from a sponsorship standpoint and as result we don't have the time to build that fleet.

We will all probably start building our own yachts around June 2011 in view of a March 2012 launch. For sure, from that time all teams will be bringing their own yachts to the events, Louis Vuitton Trophies or Acts as we used to know them. That just really leaves up in the air what we do next year. We, the WSTA, are planning on having 4 events next year and we think the Defender maybe wants to add a couple more.

Valencia Sailing: Will those events be raced with the current yachts?
Paul Cayard: Right now that's our plan but there are some other ideas that could be interesting. We are working on a series of things but again, it's a very dynamic moment right now and I wouldn't want to be locked in and say anything is for sure. Everything is still at a state of development and ideas and don't forget we are on the outside because it's BMW Oracle that has the keys to this game.

What they say, obviously, counts a lot more than what we say. Right now we are planning Dubai in November and Honk Kong in January with the current ACC yachts. We have an additional three events worked up to a very high level of agreement, in San Diego, Sochi in Russia and San Francisco in September 2011. The WSTA is going ahead with its business but, of course, at the same time we have to be sensitive to the Defender and what they want.

Valencia Sailing: What's in store for the Louis Vuitton Trophy in the future? Are the regattas going to form part of the 34th America's Cup?
Paul Cayard: Well, we are still working on that. Ultimately, it's up to BMW Oracle to decide and since they are a preferential shareholder in the WSTA, the organizer of the Louis Vuitton Trophy, they are obviously a big believer in that concept of races that travel around the world, bringing sailing to fans in different countries.

I'm quite sure that this concept will be part of the America's Cup. Exactly how this gets done, whether it's on boats provided by the organization, at what point we are all going to bring our own boats to the events (because I'm sure at some stage we'll have to do it), exactly when that transition is made, all these are points we are working on with BMW Oracle. Ultimately, they have a huge say in how that takes place.

Valencia Sailing: What role, if any, will the WSTA have in the America's Cup?
Paul Cayard: Again, that's something we are currently working on. I think so but we have to work that out with BMW Oracle and Mascalzone Latino. They both are preferential shareholders of the WSTA, so they see a value in that and they will want to protect it.

Valencia Sailing: Let's now talk about the future America's Cup boat. What would you personally like to see?
Paul Cayard: A faster, more exciting boat than the current ACC yachts. Maybe more demanding from a crew standpoint, with fewer crew and the maneuvers quite difficult in order to make it more exciting for the spectator. Maybe races could be decided in the last minute going to the finish line when someone doesn't gybe properly, a real test of the crew as well as the design. Another important thing is that I think the courses should be shorter, just like we have them here in the Louis Vuitton Trophy, resulting in races approximately 40-45 minutes long.

Valencia Sailing: Even for the actual America's Cup match?
Paul Cayard: Yes. I think we need to move forward with our top sailing events and create high-level commercial value. I think that an America's Cup race with a 3-mile beat and with the boats sailing side by side for 20 minutes, tacking once and then going for 20 minutes again, might be interesting to the sailing fans but I think it's long for the people that don't know about our sport.

I think a 40-minute race with two laps and each leg taking 10 minutes is something that a non-sailing expert can watch, especially in a place like the San Francisco bay where it's windy, we have lots of planing downwind, someone is broaching, we have action when gybing, etc. If you add some nationalism to that, the Italians racing the Spanish, the Spanish racing the Americans, these are some basic things that anybody can follow. We need to make changes to the way we run the top-end of our sport that requires a lot of commercial support in order to make them more interesting to the non-sailing audience.

Valencia Sailing: Does the boat you mention have to be a monohull or a multihull?
Paul Cayard: I'm not prejudiced one way or the other. I think we'll end up with a monohull. I know Russell is very open-minded on the subject and we are going to run some trials between monohulls and multihulls to establish how TV would work and what makes a more exciting race.

Valencia Sailing: Is there a consensus among the WSTA members regarding the type of boat?
Paul Cayard: If you take everybody's temperature they would say monohull but most of it is hanging over from tradition. I think that what we really want to do is look at everything in a very new and fresh way and say: "What makes the most sense for where we want to go with the event?

Valencia Sailing: Last but not least, where do you want to go with Artemis in this event? You are in the semifinals, so will a fourth place make you unhappy?
Paul Cayard: When we came to this regatta we always said to finish fourth here would be harder than finishing fourth in New Zealand. There are two more teams now, Luna Rossa and BMW Oracle, and before the regatta started we thought they would be very tough teams. If we finish fourth now after being ahead in the Round Robin it would be a bit of disappointing but it will only be one regatta on the road of maybe a 3-year campaign for the America's Cup. We won't get overly sad about it. If we can win we sure will be pleasantly surprised and happy but that doesn't mean we are done working and improving our program either. It will only mean we won one regatta.



At 5:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is clear from the interview that WSTA has little to say in the shaping of the future 34AC. Cayard is WSTA president and furthermore Coutts buddy but finally it will be a BOR call. Where is then the so called transparency and independance some tried to make us swallow?

At 6:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Valencia Sailing: What role, if any, will the WSTA have in the America's Cup?
Paul Cayard: Again, that's something we are currently working on. I think so but we have to work that out with BMW Oracle and Mascalzone Latino.

perfect. good interview!


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