Smaller boats likely for the next America's Cup

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 14:40 08/11/2013

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Sir Russell Coutts has confirmed smaller catamarans with some one-design components are in the pipeline for the next America's Cup as holders Oracle work through their options for the next regatta.

Oracle have to agree the protocol for the 35th America's Cup with challenger of record, Australia's Hamilton Island Yacht Club.

There is hope that can be sorted out by early next year.

Coutts gave some thoughts on the process which involves the venue and timing, the type of boats, the racing format and the general rules. There is also the need to satisfy broadcasting requirements.

"The boats will likely be smaller than 72-feet with some one-design components, which will reduce the number of sailors and designers," Coutts, who is still the chief executive of Oracle, told the America's Cup website.

"We believe the competition still needs to remain a test of sailing, design and boat building talent so we are carefully evaluating reductions in each category."

Coutts has been encouraged by the feedback from the spectacular Cup final between Oracle and Team New Zealand in September.

He believes the match, won 9-8 by Oracle, has set the tone for the future and has stirred enthusiasm with rival syndicates now in a rush to sign up designers and sailing talent.

"What we saw this summer was some spectacular racing. Very few people will disagree with that," Coutts said.

"The question is how to build on that result for less money.

"The main pillars are the teams, the partners, the broadcasters and the venue and each of these influence the other.

"One aspect we're working very hard on is cost reduction. If we can reduce costs, we will increase the number of the teams, which will have a positive impact on all aspects of the competition."

Coutts believed reducing team staffing was a key to cutting costs, believing the human element was more expensive than the technology in an event that has pushed yacht racing to a new level of speed and expertise.

San Francisco remains the favourite to host the next America's Cup.

The major infrastructure is in place and Oracle have been in discussions with city officials about repeating this year's exercise.

Team New Zealand are on a fundraising drive to remain involved. Teams from Italy, Australia, Sweden and Great Britain have all indicated interest in the next event

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- Fairfax Media

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