Category Archives: Bermuda America’s Cup

America’s Cup – Softbank Team Japan on countdown to Qualifiers

Chris Draper has a view from the sharp end - Softbank Team Japan - America's Cup World Series © SoftBank Team Japan
Chris Draper has a view from the sharp end – Softbank Team Japan – America’s Cup World Series © SoftBank Team Japan

The year is here. In 125 days, SoftBank Team Japan will take on Artemis Racing in their first race of the America’s Cup Qualifiers not only marking the culmination of their campaign, but the end of more than a decade of drought since Japan has challenged for the Auld Mug.

The team arrived back in Bermuda on January 2nd returning from a much-deserved two-week holiday – a chance for many members to travel back home and spend time with family prior to the final intensive testing period currently starting up.

However, one very important member of the team stayed behind in Bermuda – the team’s new America’s Cup Class race boat.

Having taken delivery of the new yacht in November, the 50-foot long one-design hull has been going through an extensive modification period in the boat shed as the team continues testing their AC45 Sport on the water.

“Progress with the AC50 has been good”, said Skipper and CEO Dean Barker.

“The entire team took a two-week break over holidays to recharge the batteries before what will be a long and hard 6 months ahead. We are all very excited to think that we will have our new boat in the water in mid-February.”

Softbank Team Japan - on the 125 day countdown to the Qualifiers SoftBank Team Japan
Softbank Team Japan – on the 125 day countdown to the Qualifiers SoftBank Team Japan

Counting down to that launch, the shore and design teams hit the ground running January 3rd maximizing the installation time necessary to transfer board control systems, ergonomics, and computers to the new boat. These custom developments have been hewn over the past year as the team has tested their AC45 Sport on the Great Sound in Bermuda.

Along with these systems, upon their return, the team was also tasked with the crucial job of committing to dagger board designs – the shape and contour of the 4-meters of winged surface that will lift the boat out of the water during the America’s Cup.

Contrary to the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series where dagger boards are one-design, the 35th America’s Cup protocol allows each team to build 4 customized dagger boards.

With almost four months to go until the America’s Cup Qualifiers, every sailing day – and the resulting amount of data and technique learned – counts exponentially.

Since splashing back on the water on January 13th for their first sail of 2017, SoftBank Team Japan now will begin an extended practice race period with the other teams based in Bermuda – Oracle Team USA, Artemis Racing, and new neighbors, Land Rover BAR.

“Having four teams on the Sound so far has been great”, said Barker.

“To date we haven’t had too many days with all boats on the water, but it does get busy! It is pretty awesome charging around at well over 30 knots with 4 other boats in close proximity and we’re looking forward to the practice racing the next two weeks.”

Practice racing on the Great Sound in Bermuda will take place as weather permits, January 18th – February 6th.

America’s Cup: No Excuse to Lose (the television audience)

Some sports have stops, like baseball between innings or football during change of possessions. For television coverage, these are the commercial breaks. But other sports, like soccer, don’t have convenient stops, with the broadcast often continuing uninterrupted until the end of regulation.

No Excuse to Lose is the book Dennis Conner still refers to as “the bible.”
A book from the man who
wrote the book on winning.

The holders of the America’s Cup are working in earnest to turn the event into a broadcast product, and while the technology developed to show the game is impressive, they’ve yet to create a commercial format that does not cut away during the race.

During the America’s Cup World Series event in New York on May 7-8, the U.S. television rights holder NBC enraged viewers. Here is Douglass Sisk offering his analysis….

I join the chorus of groans, vitriol, and stinky Topsiders hurled toward NBCSN’s ill-timed commercial breaks in the live coverage of the AC World Series in New York. Curious about the situation, I dusted off some grad school skills and did some additional data parsing with television ratings information.

If you take a close look at the ratings table, filter for the timeslots starting at 12noon to 3PM (EDT), then filter out the programs with fewer than 75,000 viewers (an arbitrary number) you end up with 26 viewing options. Sorting further by total viewership, the AC World Series coverage was bested not only by live coverage of several “major” sports events, but also by some well-traveled reruns. Hmmph!

But sort by the highest percentage of viewers in the coveted 18-49 year old age bracket, and the AC World Series coverage is nicely mid-pack. Okay, but…

Is notable that many of the commercial minutes were used up not by paid advertising but in promotional spots for other programs on the NBC family of networks, leading me to think that the “make-good” for a missed commercial not run in the exciting final minutes of a race wouldn’t have been onerous.

Make what you will from these stats, but imagine the conversations at some local watering holes, where veteran sailors are trying to get some new folks interested in sailing by showing off the very appealing mix of technology and speed… only to be denied the finish of the final, regatta-deciding race… leaving the new (and experienced) to wonder “What the heck just happened?”

The lack of repeat or even acknowledgement by the commentating crew suggests that the production staff have no idea that commercial breaks are imminent. It looked like NBCSN just picked up the feed and slammed the commercials in based on time-of-day, rather than action in the Live Sporting Event they were broadcasting.

I can understand that traditional fleet racing is difficult to watch on television, but – credit where credit is due – the AC organizers have worked hard to create a race format that can be enjoyed by sailors and non-sailors alike. Regardless of anyone’s opinions on the current state of the America’s Cup, this area has been successful.

But to be, quite frankly, hosed by the hometown sports network may indeed result in a long and empty road devoid of viewers. There is simply no excuse.
– source:

Oracle Team USA’s new America’s Cup boat is so fast ‘It doesn’t quite feel like you’re in control’

Oracle Team USA training in Bermuda. At right is skipper Jimmy Spithill, a two-time winner of the America's Cup, both times with Oracle.
Oracle Team USA training in Bermuda. At right is skipper Jimmy Spithill, a two-time winner of the America’s Cup, both times with Oracle. photo: Oracle Team USA

Oracle Team USA, the defender of the 2017 Americas Cup, the most prestigious sailing race in the world, is making big speed gains in their new boat – setting a new team speed record this week while training in Bermuda.

The team broke 46 knots (or 53 MPH) in their new AC50 yacht, meeting the fastest speeds of the larger AC72 boats from the 2013 cup.

“It doesn’t quite feel like your in control,” Scott Ferguson, a lead naval architect for Oracle Team USA who was on board at the time, said.

That’s understandable. Even for some of the best sailors in the world, skimming above the water at those speeds is a frightening experience.

These yachts use foils – winglike surfaces extending below the boat’s twin hulls – to lift the entire craft of the water and escape its drag. The high speeds mean sailors must wear helmets and impact-resistant clothing.

Foiling has completely changed the America’s Cup, a big element of an effort by software magnate and Oracle Team USA financier Larry Ellison to make the sport spectator and television-friendly.

The racing was indeed a spectacle of epic proportion, but with TV ratings of about one million viewers, it was still far from worth the estimated $100 million price required to field a team, Reuters reported.

Oracle Team USA is Fast

To cut costs for the 2017 cup in Bermuda, the boats will be smaller and regulations will restrict development to the wing, foils, rudder, and the hydraulic systems that move many of these appendages around. This means the teams will have fewer areas with which to eek out an advantage before racing begins next year.

“I expect that the competition will be much closer [in 2017],” Ferguson said.

But due to the already high speeds, what little changes they can make go much further.

“We were always trying to make gains of tenths of a knot,” Ferguson said. “Now, a change can find a knot or a couple of knots.”

A designer of racing yachts for around 25 years, Ferguson worked with Luna Rossa, the Italian challenger for the cup from 2000 to 2007. The University of Michigan-trained naval architect then joined “the home team,” as he put it – he’s been at Oracle Team USA ever since.

Ferguson was part of the shore team at the 2013 cup in San Francisco, when Oracle Team USA made an improbable comeback from an 8-1 deficit to win the first-to-nine event. The team arrived at the event with a slower boat, but managed a series of technical and strategic changes that eventually turned the tide.

At the time, Ferguson was responsible for the wing – the massive, rigid structure that substitutes for a sail. Changes made to the wing’s setup played a large part in the team’s come-from-behind victory, former Washington Post contributor Bruce Knecht wrote in “The Comeback,” his chronicle of the 2013 race.

Now, Ferguson in charge of many more elements of the boat, and the challenge is immense. Especially with the competition right next door.

Emirates New Zealand and SoftBank Japan, two challengers for the cup, are also based in Bermuda. The teams regularly spar out on the water, which can be both a good indicator of Oracle’s relative progress and an ever-present source of pressure on the Oracle crew.

But now they have a new team speed record on their hands – another milestone on the long, exhaustive journey to the 2017 regatta.

The team will compete on May 7-8 in the New York harbor as part of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series, an international list of races leading up to the 2017 event.


Forming foundations of America’s Cup village

Looking toward the South Basin project from Dockyard.  By the Oracle Team Base.
Looking toward the South Basin project from Dockyard. By the Oracle Team Base.

A huge cargo of steel piles has been unloaded in Dockyard as part of the South Basin project.

The piles will be drilled into the seabed to secure the reclaimed land that will form the foundations of the America’s Cup village.

The steelwork arrived in the West End last week on board the BBC Tennessee from Baltimore in the United States. Project managers expect to start driving the piles into the earth within the next couple of weeks.

Andrew Dias, the general manager of the West End Development Corporation, told The Royal Gazette that the project was “progressing well” and remained on time and on budget.

“The steel as well as the other infrastructure is now on site, although obviously not on the reclaimed land as the aggregate is still being spread out,” he said.

“We have taken delivery of 2.15 tonnes of steel piles, 1,726 sheet piles, 37 Y-shaped piles and 39 anchor piles.

“The steel work to create the perimeter is expected to take around eight weeks to complete, at which time a concrete cap will be added to the steel structure.”

From Royal Gazette, Simon Jones

Spithill leads Oracle reconnaissance team in Bermuda

Here is a great article that we found over on sail-world about Skipper Spithill arriving in Bermuda:

Oracle Team USA skipper Jimmy Spithill is dockside in Bermuda this week, along with other team members, to lay the groundwork for a smooth transition for the team as it moves to the new host venue of the America’s Cup over the coming weeks.

‘The objective of being here this week is to start work on setting up our base, our new home, in Bermuda. It’s been fantastic to get here and feel the energy and experience the welcoming we’re getting from Bermudians,’ Spithill told the local media on Tuesday morning at Dockyard, on the west end of the island.

Oracle Team USA captain arrives in Bermuda.
Artist rendering of the proposed Oracle Home-base in Dockyard, Bermuda. Oracle Team USA – Bermuda January 2015 – photo: Oracle Team USA media

‘Our plan at Oracle Team USA is to be sailing out on the Great Sound at the beginning of May. It’s important for us to hit that deadline, so we’re working to put a plan in place to achieve that. Our team members, the designers, the athletes, their families and kids, we’re all coming here to Bermuda from about now onwards really – looking for houses, schools, getting integrated into the local community. For me personally, having been here the past few days, the local people here are really behind it. I have no doubt we’re going to have a fantastic America’s Cup here.’

Spithill leads Oracle reconnaissance team in Bermuda

The new Oracle Team USA base will be set up at Dockyard, which is where all team bases will be located as well as the public village for the America’s Cup competition in 2017.  Oracle Team USA will set up the first team base and Spithill says it needs to be operational as soon as possible.

‘From a work point of view, the plan that we’re going through this week with ACBDA (America’s Cup Bermuda), WEDCO (the West End Development Corporation) and BCM McAlpine and others is going to result in a very functional, efficient base so that our designers and engineers have a great spot, our athletes have the working area they need and the on-water operations is all integrated. The thing is that the race track is right here as well, so I think we will be very efficient and very productive when we are here working.

‘It’s very important to Oracle Team USA to get set up here first,’ Spithill continued. ‘I look at it like we’re the home team – we’re responsible for the Cup coming to Bermuda, we’ll be the first ones to set up here and get integrated into the community. And in my experience, it’s so important to have the home crowd behind you. The local Bermudians are going to be a big part of the result. We need them to get behind our team if we want to win. That’s a key part. It was key last time. We want to welcome them with open arms they way they’ve welcomed us. It will make a difference to us.

Oracle team USA arrives in Bermuda.
Artist rendering of the proposed Oracle base in Dockyard. – photo: Oracle Team USA media

Oracle Team USA – Bermuda January 2015 – Oracle Team USA

‘I think people here will be blown away when they see these boats,’ Spithill concluded, talking about the foiling AC45 and AC62 catamarans used in the America’s Cup racing. ‘Most people, when they think sailing, they think of cruising boats. When they see us here sailing for our training sessions, they’ll think they’re looking at some kind of spacecraft. These boats literally fly. They do over 80km/h on the water. They have to be powered by just the wind and the athletes on board. I think people will be really impressed and I think kids will be really excited by it too. Hopefully it helps groom a new generation of sailors.’

Oracle Team USA has a final training session scheduled in San Francisco next month before moving its operations to Bermuda, with a target to start training sessions on the Great Sound at the beginning of May.
by Sail-World

America’s Cup Team Oracle USA Arrives

Oracle team USA arrives in Bermuda.
Artist rendering of the proposed Oracle base in Dockyard.

America’s Cup team Oracle Team USA are starting to set up their base in Bermuda, with skipper Jimmy Spithill saying “it’s been fantastic to get here and feel the energy and see the welcoming we’re getting here from Bermudians.”

Oracle Team USA, the defending champion, is one of six teams set to compete for the 35th America’s Cup, alongside Artemis Racing from Sweden, Ben Ainslie Racing from Great Britain, Emirates Team from New Zealand, Luna Rossa Challenge from Italy and Team France.

America’s Cup Team Oracle USA Arrives

Jimmy Spithill said, “The objective of being here this week is to start work on setting up our base, our home, in Bermuda. It’s been fantastic to get here and feel the energy and see the welcoming we’re getting here from Bermudians. It’s very, very exciting to see where we hope to be going out and defending the America’s Cup.”

“Our plan at Oracle Team USA is to be sailing out on The Great Sound at the beginning of May. It’s important for us to hit that deadline, so we’re working to put a plan in place to achieve that,” added Mr Spithill.

“Our team members, the designers, the athletes, their families and kids, we’re all coming here from now onwards really – looking for houses, schools, getting integrated into the local community.

“For me personally having been here the past couple of days, the local people here are really behind it. I have no doubt it’s going to be a fantastic America’s Cup here.”

Ben Ainslie Team arrive in Bermuda

Ben Ainslie Racing - Bermuda America's Cup.
Ben Ainslie’s team arrives in Bermuda to begin assembly of his catamarans! photo:

Wow.  Things are really starting to heat up in Bermuda, even though it is only January.  The ‘Ben Ainslie team’ have been here setting up two foiling catamarans and Sir Ben, himself, is due to arrive today!  There is an article written by Sailing Correspondent, Colin Thompson, at the Royal Gazette about the team assembling two America’s Cup racing boats in Dockyard!

Sir Ainslie has been pretty vocal about the fact that he preferred Bermuda over its hosting rival, San Diego.  He has stated that the British team would prefer that Bermuda host the 2017 America’s Cup given its “connections with the UK,” according to multiple international media reports.

The Olympic sailor is no stranger to Bermuda, having sailed here many times before, as well as participated in sailing clinics with youth sailors.

“I haven’t sailed that much in San Diego but I have in Bermuda for the Gold Cup and I think that it [the weather] would be a great challenge for the teams,” he said. “It’s pretty variable, so from a design point of view it would be a pretty big challenge for everybody.”

Here is an excerpt from yesterday’s RG:

History was made at the Royal Naval Dockyard yesterday when Ben Ainslie Racing rolled out the first foiling catamarans to reach these shores.

Curious pedestrians and motorists watched in awe as an advance party from the 35th America’s Cup challenger unloaded a large container housing two doublehanded NACRA F20 catamarans and assembled them in the boatyard at West End Yachts.

Ben Ainslie Team arrive in Bermuda

Some observers snapped photos of the “flying” catamarans while they casually chatted with team members of the British syndicate as they went about their task of getting the multihull boats ready in time for a week-long training camp with surgeon-like precision. “We are the advance party, so we are here early to put the boats together for a training week,” said BAR team member Jonathan Goring. “We have two of these, so we are going to have two boats sailing.

“We are hoping to get in as much sailing as we can and get to know the waters — and this will be one of many times.”

Regarded as the ultimate racing catamaran, the NACRA F20 is designed for inshore and coastal racing and is equipped with a flight-controlling system making it capable of reaching speeds approaching 30mph. “They are ideal for training because they are small, fast, foiling boats,” Mr Goring said.

“They are much more twitchy than the bigger boats, so they are more sensitive.

“In terms of balance, you learn a lot on them — basically, the whole team and the designers. The designers sail them as well, so they get the feel for what we are doing. These boats are great.

“They are 20-feet long and break down where you can fit two into a 40ft container.”

Also among BAR’s advance party are team racers Andy McLean, Paul Campbell-James and Jono Macbeth, who all featured in the previous America’s Cup in 2013 in San Francisco, but with different teams.

McBeth was a member of defender Oracle Team USA, the holders of the coveted “Auld Mug”, while McLean and Campbell-James competed with challengers Artemis Racing and Luna Rossa.

More team members are due to arrive on Island tomorrow (Sunday 1/18/15), among them team principal and skipper Sir Ben Ainslie, the most decorated sailor in Olympic history.

Ben Ainslie Racing Team

As more and more teams arrive, we are going to see some fantastic sailing out in the Great Sound.  We are going to get out as much as possible and take some photos.  They will be posted here at our site.  Feel free to go below and leave a comment, question or story!

America’s Cup in Bermuda | Welcome Video

Watch the welcome video for the America’s Cup in Bermuda 2017.

Americas Cup – Bermuda from LookBermuda | LookFilms on Vimeo.

“Bermuda is both honoured and proud to be selected to host the 35th America’s Cup in 2017. Being the home of the America’s Cup is an extraordinary opportunity that aligns perfectly with the heritage, profile, spirit and future of our island.  Fans and participants alike will love it here. Our Great Sound just might be the best sailing venue on the planet, mixing a steady ocean breeze with protected waters that are flat and fast. It is as if the America’s Cup catamarans and Bermuda were pre-destined to converge at this point in history.” (from the video narration)

Bermuda America's Cup - welcome video.
Welcome video to the America’s Cup in Bermuda in 2017. By LookBermuda

Welcome to Bermuda America’s Cup website

America's Cup in Bermuda 2017.
The America’s Cup is coming to Bermuda in 2017! (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

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