America’s Cup teams are gearing up for a 2013 race that will resemble a battle of the titans, only faster, more dangerous for the crew and more exciting for the spectators. And Larry Ellison is leading the way.That’s according to Forbes’ Daniel Fisher, who spent an afternon on a $1 million AC45 cat used strictly for training. The AC45 training boats are, naturally, all built to Oracle’s winning specifications.
Larry Ellison changed the sport of elite yacht racing forever in 2010 when he and another team introduced massively fast carbon-fibre catamarans to the America’s Cup.
He won that race (2-0), but the next race will feature even bigger, badder, faster multi-hulled boats that are expected to hit 40 knots or 46mph. Compare that to 14 knots, which is about the speed of the last single-hulled boats to compete in the America’s Cup, Fisher says.
Some racing enthusiasts are lamenting the change, claiming these super fast boats means the end to sophisticated tactical strategy — and the 50-year old skippers that had such skills. In their place are youngsters who grew up hiked out on their cats and hanging on.
Speed and danger might even attract more of a NASCAR-type spectator, into the wrecks as much as the race.
But realise, teams now need to raise $50 million just to enter the race. So in a YouTube video produced by Oracle Racing, Ellison explains: “What’s essential for this sport, like any sport that is also a business, we have to have exciting TV coverage. These boats are the fastest sailboats in the world, these crews, the best sailors in the world. You combine those things and you get very exciting racing. You get a lot of passing, a tightly fought racing. And occasionally these things flip over … it’s inevitable when you push as hard as these guys push.”