With less than two years until the challenger elimination series gets under way in Auckland, New Zealand, AmericaOne continues to make important steps toward bringing the America's Cup home. Bruce Nelson and the AmericaOne design team, now numbering 15, completed the first round of wind tunnel and towing tanks tests. John Kostecki and I continue to give examples of how we can put together sailing teams and win. Finally, support for AmericaOne both through individuals and corporations is growing nicely. (Click on the photo to view a larger image.)
Paul Cayard at the helm
AmericaOne is executing the most comprehensive experimental program in the United States as part of its intensive research and design program. As part of this, AmericaOne tested several different appendages at the University of Washington's Kirsten Wind Tunnel under the guidance of Winfred Feifel and Ken Visser of The Boeing Co.. This extremely thorough approach to designing the fastest America's Cup yacht sets AmericaOne apart from all other challengers at this early stage.
Currently, Nelson and his team are planning the second round of this testing for February. As construction the final race boats is just over one year away, there will be four tank/tunnel testing sessions during 1998. Needless to say, not only is this work critical to producing a winning boat, but increasing the intensity in the design arena, AmericaOne's costs will rise significantly.
On the racetrack, Cayard and company, including Mark Rudiger, Steve Erickson, Kimo Worthington and Josh Belsky won Leg 1 of the Round the World Race. Aiding the sailors in their success was sail designer Robert Hook and meteorologist Roger Badham, both from AmericaOne. The AmericaOne board and I had a vision one year ago that our team should be involved in the toughest competitions in our sport. The Whitbread is certainly in that class. Keeping a core of the AmericaOne team working together, solving problems, competing at the highest level in our sport, and exposing our team to a broader public, are all excellent benefits which will be carried forward to the America's Cup challenge.
As relative novices compared to Chris Dickson, Dennis Conner, Lawrie Smith, and Grant Dalton, it was a surprise to many that we won Leg 1. The outcome of this race is far from evident; Iím sure that Leg 2 will be tougher for us, as prior Whitbread experience will count more in the Southern Ocean. One thing that can be said at this point is that we have proven once again that we can organize ourselves and compete at the top in any sector of this sport.
Sailing in the Spotlight:
The Whitbread has created a heightened awareness of sailing with the public after a three-year drought. Not since the 1995 America's Cup, when my Stars and Stripes teammates and I last battled Russell Coutts and his Kiwi mates on international television, has sailing received such attention. The press, as well as the TV media, have been bitten by the compelling story behind the Whitbread's 'race around the planet.' The Whitbread Web site has been inundated with "hits" from all over the world, demonstrating a larger than expected public following.
All of this attention is good for the sport of sailing and the America's Cup. A large public following is a key ingredient to any corporation's decision to sponsor a sports team. Having athletes who are known to the public is important as well. I believe this strategy is working well for AmericaOne. And now, with less than two years until the Cup competition begins, things should start moving within the corporate world, where I anticipate a heightened interest in helping us bring the Cup home to America, and more specifically to San Francisco, where it belongs.
Again, we would be nowhere without our individual and corporate supporters who, to date, have sustained our challenge and allowed us to assemble a world-class team, which has been actively pursuing the Cup both on the water and in the laboratory. Having this support adds a lot of credibility to AmericaOne; both because of the fact that we have passed the scrutiny of many who know our sport and our competitors well, and because we are proactively working on winning, not just sitting on our hands waiting for a sponsor to come along.
What pleases me most about the days I spend around my AmericaOne teammates is something I sense: That to each of them this is not just a challenge or a campaign; this is about beating everyone else and winning -- nothing less. I am proud to be part of this quality team and you can be sure that all of us at AmericaOne are prepared to make every sacrifice necessary to "bring it back."