Straight-line drag race?
Update: It would be interesting to know the deltas of each match race and compare them to the total time they lasted in order to see how close they were. Since I wasn't in Newport during the races I don't have the data myself. However, I sent the New York Yacht Club an email asking if that data is available and if I could have it. It will be posted if and when I get it.
CNN's most famous sailing program "CNN Mainsail" was in Newport, Rhode Island last month in order to report on the International C Class Catamaran Championship, or the Little America's Cup as it's popularly known. After last Monday's presentation in the BMW Oracle base in Valencia, the C Class catamarans are the closest we can get to the future America's Cup yachts. As a result, by watching those catamarans race we could at least get a rough idea of what America's Cup racing could look like 2 years from now. In fact, many America's Cup big names such as Juan Kouyoumdjian, Tom Schnackenberg and Paul Cayard, among others, can be seen in the video inspecting the yachts and wings, after having dropped in by "chance".
In all the videos, Shirley Robertson hails these yachts as "fast", "extreme", "radical", etc. There is absolutely no doubt that they are fast, indeed much faster than any comparable monohull, their acceleration is dramatic and that the images of the flying hulls are spectacular, at least for a little while. Yet the America's Cup, or any other yacht race, is not about breaking the speed record. It's about close boat-to-boat action and exciting racing and there is little of that in Robertson's report, or at least in what she decided to talk about. All images show the C class catamarans in straight-line sailing, no tacks or gybes, no prestart action. At no moment are these yachts praised for their maneuverability or close combat they provide.
The majority of media were enthusiastic about the brand new AC72 catamaran for the 34th America's Cup, describing it as a leap to the 21st century or the dawn of a new era for sailing's pinnacle event. Again, nobody will argue that they will not be technologically advanced and challenging to design, build and sail but will they provide the spectacular racing Coutts promised? I think it's too early to judge and we'll have to wait until next June when their "baby" sisters the AC45's hit the water in the first ever regatta of the America's Cup World Series.
Shirley Robertson reports on the Little America's Cup in Newport. Video copyright CNN Mainsail