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America’s Cup 2024 at Barcelona to be Raced in International 15 Metre Classic Cutters

1st April 2022
The eye-catching sight of the restored International 15 Metres racing in the Mediterranean is to be replicated off Barcelona as the boats-of-choice for the 37th America’s Cup in 2024
The eye-catching sight of the restored International 15 Metres racing in the Mediterranean is to be replicated off Barcelona as the boats-of-choice for the 37th America’s Cup in 2024

As the dust settles on the global kerfuffle over the torrid venue selection process for the 37th America’s Cup Series in 2024 with Barcelona taking the prize, it emerges from leaked documents that the final big money agreement includes various very special side-deals. These were only going to be revealed as the world’s sailing public comes to accept this latest location development in the 170-year-long story of the world’s oldest international sporting challenge, but an information security failure has resulted in them coming centre stage today.

Thanks to excessive and very boisterous celebrations in the Catalan capital when the deal was signed - despite it all being done plumb in the middle of Lent - Afloat.ie can reveal some sensational secret proposals which are now being firmed up. They indicate that while the complex agreement was being put together in the greatest secrecy, the putative Barcelona organisers were doing some discreet but detailed research which indicated that in order to achieve the successful level of popularity and profitability which they seek, the 37th staging will have to look very different to the 36th staging completed in 2021 in New Zealand.

THE PUBLIC WANT SPECTACULAR RIGS

An extract from the secret documents reveals much of interest:

“Our research has shown that the casual spectator finds the modern AC75 boats “look rather boring”. They tell that us that from a distance they look like floating versions of Formula 1 cars setting very ordinary standard rigs of mundane appearance, and that unless spectators are very close to the action, they do not get the full impression of the foiling effect on hull behaviour.

Accessible drama – the International 15 Metre Lady Anne (originally built in 1912) thrashing to windwardAccessible drama – the International 15 Metre Lady Anne (originally built in 1912) thrashing to windward

Thus we have concluded that it is much more important from an ordinary spectator’s point of view to have large, spectacular and complex rigs rather then mere hull speed. And at the moment, the class of boat which best meets this need is the Mediterranean’s fleet of restored classic yachts to the International 15 Metre rule, which are awe-inspiring with their jackyard topsail-setting gaff rigs.

With the limited time available, the 15 Metres – whose hulls are around 75ft in length – offer the best option of having a viable fleet in action for 2024. But if it goes as well as we hope, in time we would expect to upgrade to boats of the International 23 Metre Rule, or to the American rule which produced the famous Reliance in 1903.

The ultimate America’s Cup yacht was the successful 1903 defender Reliance. She set an extremely large suit of perfectly-cut sails, needed a crew of 80 to race her properly, required 19ft of water to float, and had to be dry-docked as much as possible as she was built of an electrolytically-conflicting range of expensive metals, which tended to fizz and deterioriate rapidly when put into salt water.The ultimate America’s Cup yacht was the successful 1903 defender Reliance. She set an extremely large suit of perfectly-cut sails, needed a crew of 80 to race her properly, required 19ft of water to float, and had to be dry-docked as much as possible as she was built of an electrolytically-conflicting range of expensive metals, which tended to fizz and deterioriate rapidly when put into salt water.

Sailors tend to overestimate the spectator effect of the supposedly high sailing speed of the AC 75 boat type. It only seems fast to sailors. By comparison with other vehicles, they’re not really going very fast at all. Thus we think that as the America’s Cup beds in at Barcelona over the years, we’ll place much more emphasis on the spectacular appearance of the rig and so forth than we will on the still rather pedestrian absolute speeds.”

Obviously, this is dynamite, and will be regarded as a retrograde step except at Falmouth in Cornwall and Howth in Ireland, the only two places in the world where significant fleets of jackyard topsail setting fleets still race, with Cornwall featuring the Falmouth workboats while Howth race the Howth Seventeens.

The return of jackyard topsails to the America’s Cup will bring added kudos to experience in this rig, as with the Falmouth Workboats seen here……..The return of jackyard topsails to the America’s Cup will bring added kudos to experience in this rig, as with the Falmouth Workboats seen here……..

…….and the Howth Seventeens. Photo: W M Nixon …….and the Howth Seventeens. Photo: W M Nixon 

And apparently, even the impressive J Boats which raced for the America’s Cup in the 1930s - and are now revived as a class - have failed to meet the Barcelona requirements. The word is that by comparison with Reliance and her smaller yet similar sisters, as far as the general public is concerned the J Class “are just too boring for words”.

Update: Midday on April 1 - Thank you for reading our April Fool! 

Published in America's Cup
WM Nixon

About The Author

WM Nixon

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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland for many years in print and online, and his work has appeared internationally in magazines and books. His own experience ranges from club sailing to international offshore events, and he has cruised extensively under sail, often in his own boats which have ranged in size from an 11ft dinghy to a 35ft cruiser-racer. He has also been involved in the administration of several sailing organisations.

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