Barlo Plastics announce British Admiral's Cup team sponsorship

They will also support Adrian Stead's IC 45, with Ben Ainslie at the helm

Wednesday December 6th 2000, Author: Mark Chisnell, Location: United Kingdom
It was also refreshing that the 'no excuse to lose' line so evident at the last British Admiral's Cup Team announcement was missing from this one. I said then that it's simply not that kind of regatta. The no-discard, three boat team format make it very difficult to win, as many pre-event favourites have discovered. The best you can do is get a strong team and prepare thoroughly - then hope you get the breaks. This is already looking like a very strong team.

But there are still other issues to be resolved about the format, with the Notice of Race unpublished. One of the biggest question marks hangs over whether this summer's experiment will be repeated - the Criterion Round Britain and Ireland Race saw off-the-boat weather routing allowed for the first time in a RORC event.

The issue becomes more pressing with every advance in mobile telecommunications. As the kit gets smaller and more effective, the current rule - no outside assistance - gets harder, not to say impossible, to police. The RORC must decide if the only way to ensure a fair, and seen-to-be-fair, competition is to throw the communications open. But at the level of intensity with which the Admiral's Cup is customarily contested, that could radically change the nature of the game.

The racing in the Admiral's Cup is fought on a tactically and strategically complex coastline. The rewards from having a huge team of 'spotters' - posted on headlands or even in helicopters, and in radio communication with the competing boats - would be proportional to the investment. But they would, or could, turn an expensive game into a prohibitively expensive one.

A different but linked issue is the matter of stacking, or shifting ballast weight down below - another rule that is very difficult to police. There are suggestions that this regulation may also go overboard for the next Admiral's Cup. It's perhaps a less contentious issue than the weather routing one, since stacking is already allowed in the Volvo Ocean Race, and the change has been seen to work. It would make shoreline tacking duels an even more physical test, as all the gear must be hurled from one side to the other to squeeze the full potential performance out of the boats.

Sources at the RORC reckon the expectation is for the Notice of Race to clarify these issues, and it should be published in the New Year. In the meantime, if you've got a view on whether or not weather routing and shifting ballast should be allowed in the next Admiral's Cup, why not hit the feedback button and let the world know what you think?

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