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Shrubb thought he had seen it all

Peter Shrubb

The 35th America’s Cup has given Peter Shrubb a whole new outlook on multihull match racing.

The Bermudian sailing umpire and judge admits that he was initially sceptical as to whether multihull yachts were ideal for match racing.

However, all of the exciting racing and drama that has unfolded on the Great Sound over the past two weeks has convinced the former Royal Bermuda Yacht Club commodore that the modern-day America’s Cup Class foiling catamarans are indeed a good fit for the match-racing format.

“I was one of those people who didn’t think that match-racing multihulls was really going to work,” Shrubb said. “I’m a traditionalist and like monohulls, but after watching the action in the Great Sound the last few weeks, it’s incredible how this has all worked out with multihulls.

“They are incredible to watch and exciting, a lot of passing lanes and interesting match-racing moves, and it’s certainly exceeded my expectations.”

Shrubb served as an umpire at the 32nd America’s Cup held in Valencia, Spain, in 2007 and is assisting in this regatta as a spotter on board the on-the-water umpire’s boat. Drawing comparisons between both events, Shrubb said: “When I was in Valencia, it was the last of the big monohulls and I thought that was an amazing event.

“After being there and watching that unfold, I thought that was the pinnacle and didn’t think it would get any better. But now here we are ten years later in Bermuda with these 50ft catamarans going 43 knots, and it’s just like night and day.

“One was great for its time, but times have changed and now we have a whole new thing with these high-speed catamarans. It’s a different game.

“Umpiring with boats going 43 knots is pretty impressive in itself; just going that fast and it’s blowing 24 knots and you’re trying to umpire two boats going equally as fast.

“Everything happens pretty quickly and so you have to be on the ball, and the umpiring team is doing an amazing job, considering all of the pressure everybody is up against.”

Challenger Emirates Team New Zealand will face two-times defending champions Oracle Team USA in the 35th America’s Cup Match, presented by Louis Vuitton, which commences on Saturday.

The two teams competed in the previous America’s Cup Match in San Francisco in 2013, when Oracle pulled a stunning comeback, overturning an 8-1 deficit to retain the coveted “Auld Mug”.

Shrubb said the battle between the two teams promises to be just as exciting, if not more, than the earlier stages of the 35th America’s Cup.

“Where does it go from here is anybody’s guess and that’s the nice thing about this America’s Cup,” he said. “You just don’t know what’s going to happen next.

“Look at the drama that happened in that race between Artemis Racing and New Zealand. Artemis almost beat them when New Zealand had a 300-metre lead with about 600 metres to go. Anything can happen and it’s just incredible how exciting this final is going to be.

“A lot is going to depend on how hard it blows and the set-up of the boats.

“It’s a difficult America’s Cup with drama right till the end.”