The results sound great, two seconds and a first for Niklas Zennström’s Rán in the TP52s and three firsts for Tony Buckingham’s Soto 40 Ngoni, but there is a strong undercurrent of change at Barcelona’s Trofeo Conde de Godo in the shape of grand prix racing in the Mediterranean.
And not just there. There is a new feel to the World Match Race Tour as it kicks off in Germany, the flexible –perhaps that should read fluid – approach to running the America’s Cup, and the continuing row over Olympic equipment selection for 2016 means more crossroads than the sport needs, especially against a background of struggling finances.
After the withdrawal of Audi support for the MedCup series, which pitted the best of the US, Britain, the rest of Europe, and New Zealand, a loose capitalist co-operative has taken over the running of a TP 52 circuit essentially reduced to four regattas bolted on to exiting events.
Joining Zennström, who is also a serious campaigner in a 72-footer of the same name, is the American sail loft Quantum and, with a new boat, Sardinia’s Yacht Club Costa Smeralda and Alberto Roemmers. They have appointed a Valencia-based sports marketing company, Jacaranda, to redevelop the circuit and are committed to two seasons.
Next year’s programme, they promise, will be announced at the end of June or early July and in the meantime the fleet is enlarged by the presence of Britain’s Tony Langley and the Stephane Kandler-managed Franco-German All4One team.
The All4One skipper, Jochen Schuemann is absent, nursing an injury according to an official explanation, though he is taking part in the same regatta aboard a 94-foot Wally, Magic Carpet Squared.
Also absent for rather more painful medical reasons is Buckingham but his tactician/alternate skipper Kevin Sproul could telephone the good news of three opening bullets in a seven-strong 40-foot fleet which originated in South America and will often race alongside the TP52s on a beefed up European circuit.
The America’s Cup organisers have agreed to yet another modification to the protocol for AC34 in San Francisco next year which pushes back the deadline for entries from 1 June to 1 August this year. The move was led by the French Energy Team, which has been chasing finance in the Middle East at a time when a presidential election at home has only made the search for sponsorship even harder.
Everyone, including the three expected challengers, Sweden’s Artemis, Team New Zealand, and Italy’s Prada-backed Luna Rossa, plus the Korean and Chinese syndicates, agreed.