Numbers crisis on the America's Cup agenda
DUNCAN JOHNSTONE IN SAN FRANCISCO
Extraordinary but also embarrassing - that's the view of this America's Cup from one of the most powerful figures in the regatta.
Frenchman Bruno Trouble heads the Louis Vuitton Cup challenger series and has a vested interest in the actual America's Cup that is on a knife-edge for a result and its future.
He will sit down with the winners to help plot the format of the next event.
Having seen this year's challenger series attract just three entries and watch the America's Cup match between Oracle and Team New Zealand be plagued by wind limits and TV restrictions, Trouble is not convinced about the current event or its massive catamarans, despite some spectacular racing over the last two and a half weeks.
The problems were again highlighted yesterday when just one race was squeezed into the two-hour TV time limit because of light winds.
As the boats sailed off for their bases with Oracle claiming a fifth consecutive win to stay alive and cut Team New Zealand's lead to 8-6, a perfect racing wind was available on the course.
"Today they postponed the first race by 30 minutes and then they couldn't start the second race. It's perfect out there now, perfect. That is a bit embarrassing," said Trouble, a former America's Cup helmsman who masterminded the challenger series 30 years ago.
"TV is very important ... [but] the time they have agreed with NBC is a bit short. It's a pity. For sure the footage is extraordinary.
"But for sailors like me, it's weird to stop racing when you can take your girlfriend out on a sailboat."
Trouble found the wind limits frustrating, highlighting the perils Team New Zealand have faced in their desperate bid to try to close out the match against Oracle.
"I'm a sailor, so I suffer," he said.
"The Kiwis were leading two races by far ... one has been stopped because of too much wind, (when) the wind was not that strong. The other one they missed the time limit. So I think for the image of sailing, it's not good at all.
"But I understand that [for] the TV schedule with NBC they have to stick to the time limit, which is very difficult in sailing."
Trouble said Louis Vuitton were in a "wait and see" situation moving forward as they always were at this stage, looking to see who won the Cup and earned the right to set the next rules.
"We will consider the options ... we will talk about the measure (the boat design), the number of participants," he said.
"There are some great aspects of this regatta, others which are difficult ... the (small) number of challengers."
He felt the key moving forward wasn't the catamarans or monohulls debate that will surely follow this hi-tech edition.
"The question is to come up with a boat which is accessible to many teams, because at the moment these boats are too expensive.
"They are all talking about having multihulls in the America's Cup but I don't think it should be a done deal."
He conceded the old cup monohulls were "big whales" but there were far better alternatives available.
"Now you can design some extraordinary monohulls, light and fast and cheap.
"The question is to have 12 teams on the starting line. I think there is a lot to be done for that ... it's a big consideration.
"These AC72s are extraordinary but they are quite dangerous and difficult to sail. Even if it is the early days, I think those boats are a bit dangerous and too expensive."
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