Artemis Racing update

Terry Hutchinson on brings us up to speed on Torbjorn Tornqvist's America's Cup campaign

Thursday February 23rd 2012, Author: James Boyd, Location: Spain

In Valencia the Artemis Racing sailing team has been busy this month with a two week long training session lining up their newly acquired second AC45 with last year’s boat - team skipper Terry Hutchinson helming one and Tornado double bronze medallist Santiago Lange the other.

With precious little time to train on the AC45s last year before they launched straight into the three regatta America’s Cup World Series events in Cascais, Plymouth and San Diego, teams have been taking this period as an opportunity to get some valuable time in on their wingsail one design catamarans prior to this year’s first America’s Cup World Series event in Naples in April.

While they now have two AC45s, according to Terry Hutchinson, they won’t race two on the ACWS until San Francisco later in the season. “There is enough going on at home and we have to continue to do that well. And it is expensive.”

Artemis Racing also competed on the Extreme Sailing Series last year, but due to their Cup commitments Hutchinson is uncertain if they will be able to make any of the events in 2012. He was looking forward to Cardiff... “I did the J/24 Worlds in Abersoch once! The Extreme 40 was a really great thing for us and that whole series – I take my hat off to Mark [Turner] and what they have done.”

The team’s principle focus at the moment is on their new AC72. The new wing sail catamaran has been created by Juan K and his largely Argentinean design team along with some heavy hitters such as former Team New Zealand design head Tom Schnackenberg, Andrea Ivaldi and Paul Bieker on structures, Steve Calder on sail design plus Brits Adam May and Owen Modral and a considerable number of specialists on aero and hydro CFD, Finite Element Analysis, structures and all the areas you would experience in an AC design team.

According to skipper Terry Hutchinson they have taken Juan K out racing on their AC45 to give him an idea of the level of intensity of the racing. “He has proven himself time and again in the Volvo, which is a development class, so I am pretty happy to let him work his magic and we’ll get the boat and go forwards from there.”

Meanwhile construction is well under way of the new AC72 in Sweden with a build team from King Marine, led by Richard Gillies and project managed by David Endean. As usual, the Protocol for the 34th America’s Cup stipulates that the hulls of the boat must be built in the same country as the team’s challenging yacht club, in Artemis Racing’s case the Kungliga Svenska Segel Sällskapet (Royal Swedish Yacht Club).

According to Hutchison, their AC72 is mostly to be built in Sweden [rumour has it that the wing may be built by Persico in Italy] but will be transported to Valencia where it will be completed ready for launch around 1 July, which is the first occasion that the AC72s are allowed to sail – again as laid down in the Protocol.

In working up their AC72 design, the team acquired an ORMA 60 trimaran (the ex-Bonduelle/Gitana 12 VPLP design) which has been their principle test platform for the AC72. In addition to using this to try out new gear and deck layouts, they also modified the boat – most noticeable are the dreadnought bows on her floats (a la USA 17/Banque Populaire maxi). This provided an opportunity for the Artemis Racing boatbuilders to start showing what they could do. As Hutchinson points out while Oracle Racing’s builders have previously built the team’s V5 ACC boats, their AC33-winning USA17 trimaran as well as the first AC45s, for Artemis Racing, as a newbie Cup team, the AC72 will be the first time they have built a boat.

Having an ORMA 60 was also fun. “We have sailed the thing in horrendous conditions and I can tell you, you have a lot of respective for what Loick [Peyron] did on the Banque Populaire, when you go out and sail in 25 knots of wind and the sea state off Valencia,” says Hutchinson. “We have launched it pretty high up in the air! But it was really really good - another tool for us to use as a team to get the machine working better.”

The Artemis Racing AC72 is to be launched in Valencia, and not Sweden, and after this the team has to comply with another stipulation of the Protocol that limits teams to sailing their AC72 for just 30 days in 2012. As a result a considerable amount of time is likely to be spent static testing the loads on the boat as it is alongside or out of the water. As Terry Hutchinson puts it: “The days will be so precious that you can’t afford to lose a day due to a break down.”

In our recent interview with him, Russell Coutts said that the main area of development with the AC72s was likely to be in the foils. Hutchinson agrees with this, but thinks differences between the wings will be significant too. “The hulls will be along for the ride in some cases, but the foils are going to be big. The amount you can control the boat downwind and prevent it from tipping over in the bear-aways, while still being dialled in for upwind – that is where there is the separation between the two. You can make the boat go really really well upwind, but it probably can’t go downwind in 20 knots of breeze.”

It will also be interesting to see how far teams push the vertical lift generated by the foils and whether they will try, in anger, to get the leeward hull fully airborne, a set-up that would also require a T-foil, or an equivalent, to be fitted to the rudders. Typically when this has been tried on catamarans – the best example recently being Fred Eaton’s C-Class catamarans – the hydrodynamic drag has proved excessive with this configuration, so we suspect that teams will revert to a foil arrangement that partially lifts the leeward hull as they have on the ORMA 60s and USA 17.

Hutchinson believes there will be variations between the wings, particularly on their mechanical innards and operating systems. Otherwise he adds: “You’ll see variations that might not be that obvious to the eye, right up until the boat goes blowing by...”

He also reckons there will be substantial differences in the speed characteristics of the AC72s. “But it is the first generation of something, so you’d expect it as well.”

Hutchinson obviously won’t share the VPP of the new Artemis Racing AC72, but says that upwind they are expecting to be hitting mid-20s, while downwind speeds will be high 30s to low 40s, although as with any boat with this death-defying performance, it will be sea state dependent.

These are the same sort of numbers that the Banque Populaire maxi tri sees – and she is twice as long and has the open ocean as her playground. Achieving these speeds in the confines of San Francisco Bay is going to be taxing on the crew, to put it mildly.

“It is going to be really really hard. It is going to be unlike anything that we have ever seen or experienced. The AC45 is child’s play compared to what we are going to do on these things,” says Hutchinson. “But I am pretty sure that’s what Russell [Coutts] had in mind when he picked it [San Fran]. Without question it is going to be spectacular, because the boats that we are using are on the edge and it will take every bit of skill that the sailors have to sail them properly and then to race them well will be the true test.”

What we can expect to be different between the AC72s and the offshore racing multihulls that have gone before, is their corner turning ability. Catamarans that regularly get caught in irons is likely to be a thing of the past. As Hutchinson puts it: “I would suspect that all the boats will have similar speed capabilities, it is simply a matter of how you get there. Then there is speed capability versus how well the boat handles. If your boat goes four knots slower in a straight line but accelerates 20 seconds faster [out of a tack/gybe] there is quite a trade-off there and if it is three minutes to either boundary, you are 1.5 minutes on a tack and you are never going to quite reach the full speed potential of the boat.”

Hutchinson reckons that going into the Louis Vuitton Cup, starting on 4 July next year, they would have had 140 days training in their new AC72. In addition to the 30 permitted this year, they can sail for 45 days from February to May 2013 after which sailing time is unlimited. Hutchinson believes this should be ample for them to get both up to speed and competitive.

A question mark still hangs over whether Artemis Racing is going to be a one or a two boat AC72 campaign. “Right now the plan is to do two, but there are a lot of different factors around that,” says Hutchinson. “You would do it as much as anything as an insurance policy. It is still a little bit to be determined. But it would be a mistake not to have a back-up plan.” So it sounds like if they do go down the two boat route, they could be identical.

One issue that may be deciding this is money, as Hutchinson explains: “We have a great owner in Torbjorn [Tornqvist], but it is not this endless barrel of money for sure. And we are seeking sponsorship and definitely need to have a partner come on and help support us. I always chuckle when Grant [Dalton] cries poor and ‘woe is me...’ and portraying us as that evil empire. I think that Emirates has been in a better spot than we have, because they have been operating with a private supporter and they have sponsors who come on to help them. To say that they haven’t got any money is just a spin.”

Nonetheless campaigning to win the 34th America’s Cup is a more expensive exercise than it was in 2007. “I don’t think anyone has been shy that it is costing a lot of money,”says Hutchinson. “I guess that is what the America’s Cup has been. There have been good intentions along the way, but the reality of it is that again what we are dealing with and experiencing is so new and so different that you quickly realise that it is a manpower operation. This is the first sailing team I’ve been on that the shore team and the design team are several times the size of the sailing team.”

Artemis Racing at present has around 100 people on its payroll of which only 13 are on the sailing team. “But that is the magnitude of what we are working on and it does cost a lot of money. There is no hiding that. We have hired 13 people and we are hiring people for specifically jobs, but it goes back to the resource that we can afford.”

So at present the sponsor hunters are out on the fund raising campaign. “We have people looking for money. It is very clear from everyone on our team that Torbjorn isn’t just going to underwrite the whole thing. He has committed a certain amount of money to us and we have to do with that what we can.” With extra money they will obviously be able to do more, but as Hutchinson puts it: “they are hard decisions to make, because the gear is not cheap and you are already starting out as an underdog.” By which he means that Artemis Racing is undertaking their first America’s Cup while Oracle Racing is undertaking their fourth and Emirates Team New Zealand campaigns (in various incarnations) date back to the early 1990s.

Even if one or two more teams do get the backing in the next months to build AC72s, it is fair to say that there are only likely to be three competitive challengers and the odds are on, barring disaster, that it will be Artemis Racing versus Emirates Team New Zealand in the final of the Louis Vuitton Cup next year. However Hutchinson says we should in no way underestimate Luna Rossa, following the announcement that they are to get into bed with Emirates Team New Zealand and will share design resources (in the short term at least). “They are going to be really good. They will benefit from a good design team and then it will stop there and they will have to go their own ways. And Chris [Draper] is a great sailor as are Paul [Campbell-James] and Francesco [Bruni].”

As to why there aren’t more teams in the 34th America’s Cup, this is partly an issue of money, however Hutchison points out that there are other elements too. “It is expensive. You can participate, but the difference between participating in this and being a good competitor, compared with 2007, there is the element of the financial side, but there is a huge element of risk. You are not going to capsize a version 5 boat. The mast might fall over. With these things you have the potential to capsize the boat. If you are sailing along in the high 30s and you pitchpole, you will expect to see people catapulted. So you have to think long and hard before you come into it, because it is not going to be the faint of heart. But that is the excitement of it too. That element of the sport is great. It is a big step that we have taken – but why not?”

Latest Comments

Add a comment - Members log in

Latest news!

Back to top
    Back to top