The first day of the Gurit Foiling Week Forum focused on the core subject of Safety.
John Craig – (PRO 2013 America’s Cup and deputy PRO 2017 America’s Cup) and (Regatta Director for the Extreme Sailing Series), spoke about the lessons learnt from the last two editions of the America’s Cup and the need to continue to improve race management at major high performance regattas.
After discussions at Foiling Week Newport in 2016, a World Sailing (Safety Working Group) was established to initially draft racing rules and safety requirements for ‘fast boat events’ predominantly aimed at professional events with on the water umpires.
With accidents at both the 2013 and 2017 Americas Cup still very raw and close calls at other regattas including the Extreme Sailing Series, particular attention focused on the 3 boat length zone and the ultimate requirement for much greater room for safe mark rounding and also the training of support boat/media boats as part of the race management safety plan. Even with chase boat qualifications the support boats/media boats need to be much further away from race course marks in Craig’s view.
“We still have a long way to go” he said on progress, “but at least there is momentum.”
International Moth Class President, Scott Babbage has come straight from Bermuda as part of SoftBank Team Japan to get some valuable practice time on the waters of Lake Garda. With an entry list of more than 220 boats, this years Worlds will be the biggest fleet ever and a logistical hurdle in terms of race management.
Scott is aware of the issues and advises us that the fleet will be split into groups and raced on separate race courses. Scott also told the Forum that the class has a great respect for the 3 boat length rule in the zone and that the class is to a degree self policing, but that specific race rules have not been necessary for big regattas to date, but it is something the Moth class continues to monitor.
At the Forum experts like Francesco Feletti, an extreme sports medicine specialist and Marcello Bencini from Dainese, who created the body armour for Emirates Team New Zealand, showcased the protective gear created specifically for high performance sailing competitors.
Davide Tagliapietra, a structural engineer for Groupama Team France said,
“Its up to us to put pressure on the rule makers to include human safety in the design packages of our foiling craft, for example impact and protection around cockpits”.
The Forum then heard from teams involved in the 35th Americas Cup in Bermuda. Andy Claughton from LandRover BAR shared his perspective on how the kiwis got the upper hand in the 2017 Americas Cup by providing an insight into the strategies that helped the team win back the ‘Auld Mug’.
On the successful Emirates Team New Zealand team he said,
“It took 5 years for the sailors to expand their confidence and sail this design without freaking out”
“The kind of mentally that ETNZ had was, “Throw the ball as far as you could and try and reach it”
“Sailing these boats is like balancing a pencil on the top of your finger.”
The Round Table discussion included Bobby Kleinschmidt (Appendage designer at ETNZ) who briefed the Forum on the trickle down effect of knowledge and analysis from the Americas Cup.
“The exciting thing for me is that we are able to use technology developed in industry and apply it to sailing”
“The immediate trickle down is that people working on these cup boats will be working on other boat designs in the future.”
The Forum on day 2 (Friday) will focus on the core topic of ‘Sustainability’ including a sustainable Mini 6.5 craft and innovative ways to reduce emissions in regatta management.