The Defender's advantage
"The concern has always been about the defender having several months lead-time ahead of challengers to design and build a new boat, without anyone else knowing what the design rules were."Who made the above statement regarding the alleged design advantage the Defender of the America's Cup might have? Was it Ben Ainslie, Grant Simmer, Grant Dalton, Paul Cayard or Sir Keith Mills?
Well, it was none of the aforementioned representatives of the potential 34th America's Cup challengers. The quoted text was part of a statement made on November 1st, 2007, by Tom Ehman, spokesperson of the Golden Gate Yacht Club, later challenger of the 33rd America's Cup. The Defender then was Alinghi and the design rule concerned the AC90, the monohull yacht the Swiss had chosen in order to substitute the IACC.
However, this is the America's Cup and the Defender will always have an advantage, like it always has. Sailing's pinnacle event was never meant to be fair and that's part of its attraction, to challenge the Defender and try to win, knowing the cards are stacked against you (to some extent at least).
Don't get me wrong, just as I praised the Valencia TV Trials, Valencia Sailing will be the first to praise the AC72's and the new direction of the Cup if in the second quarter of 2012 we get great and exciting races. It's only normal though for the Defender to be scrutinized more than the challengers. They set the game. Is there any reason to scrutinize Synergy, Artemis or Team Origin? They will be judged by their performance (if and when they formally enter the Cup).