America’s Cup cats could be set to fly again in Bermuda
More details have emerged surrounding a new international circuit featuring the racing class used in the 35th America's Cup in Bermuda last summer.
The Royal Gazette revealed last October that plans were in the works for the launch of the new series, which will use the wing-sailed AC50 multihull racing yachts, with the island among the potential host venues.
Speculation over the proposal heightened after various reports from sources suggested that Larry Ellison, the team principal of 34th and 35th America's Cup defender Oracle Team USA, “is believed to be close to announcing the series”.
Tom Ehman, a former America's Cup sailor and vice-commodore of the 34th and 35th America's Cup defender Golden Gate Yacht Club, has taken matters a step further after shedding more light on the key aspects of the new circuit in a recent Sailing Illustrated video broadcast.
Ehman, who described the venture as a “fabulous pro-sailing league” claimed that Sir Russell Coutts, the Oracle Team USA chief executive officer and seven-times King Edward VII Gold Cup winner, is heavily involved in the new project backed by Ellison.
He also said that several key players from France, the United States, New Zealand, Australia and Britain, who were part of the previous America's Cup, have already been signed.
As for the AC50, the smallest class raced in the America's Cup and capable of speeds approaching 60mph, Ehman claimed that the multihull is to be converted to a strict one design and rebranded as the F-50.
He said electrical power will be used to provide the necessary hydraulic pressure to run the on-board systems on the high-performance catamaran that will be operated by a crew of five.
Ehman also suggested that the teams would be fitted with one set of all-purpose daggerboards optimised for winds exceeding ten knots.
According to Ehman the F-50 construction and modification project is taking place at Core Builders Composite who are based in Auckland, New Zealand, and owned entirely by Oracle Racing Inc.
Local authorities have yet to comment on the new circuit. However, Pat Phillip-Fairn, the Bermuda Tourism Authority chief product and experiences development officer, stated in a press release announcing this year's BTA Bermuda sailing calendar that “ongoing talks continue, potentially adding more events for 2018 and 2019”.
The new circuit will be based on the same concept that software billionaire Ellison used to change the face of America's Cup racing, with the introduction of the high-speed hydrofoiling catamarans and spectator-friendly courses for the previous two editions of the America's Cup in San Francisco and Bermuda.
An official announcement and launch of the F-50 series is expected in a few weeks, with Australia, Europe and San Francisco among the remaining host venues being considered.