Revolutionising the America's Cup

Carlo Borlenghi /
We look at the issues with optimising America's Cup competition to be a television sport
The most thorough appraisal of what maketh yacht racing exciting as a television sport gets underway in Valencia today when BMW Oracle Racing start their America’s Cup Evaluation Trials using two Extreme 40s and two RC44s. Russell Coutts has never been shy to break down barriers within our sport and he has been the driving force behind the present investigation into how to make the next America’s Cup work as an opiate for the masses. So what will make yacht racing appealing to a television audience? This is hardly a new question and is something that has been addressed in the past with circuits like the 18ft skiffs in Sydney, the Ultra 30s in the UK and, to some extent, the current Extreme Sailing Series. For Coutts the defining features are that the racing must be exciting with more lead changes and the boats must be physical to sail with less crew. So what is the most exciting boat that could be used? The answer must be some sort of 70-80ft skiff-like monohull or an inshore ORMA 60-style multihull, scaled down versions of the boats we saw racing the 33rd America’s Cup. Unless the monohull can be coaxed out of the water on foils (probably wait for the 36th or 37th America’s Cup for that) then the multihull should be the faster. Which boat looks the cooler on the water for the cameras? Well, its hard to beat the spectacle of a multihull lifting its weather float, although a fully air-borne 70ft foiling monohull would be quite something. From an on board camera perspective we want to see crew breaking sweat doing stuff, lots of running around, winching, rope flying everywhere. We want to hear the on board the dialogue, the shouting, a bit of emotion. The most compelling on board inshore sailing images we