America's Cup features new evolution in yacht racing
SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The America's Cup race in the San Francisco Bay has come across a lot of obstacles and has gotten off to a slow start, but yacht racing officials and fans are hoping the race really starts to pick up some momentum.
However, that's easier said than done. On Tuesday, the Italian team got off to a late start because their rudder was stuck in the mud. New Zealand got off to a better start and won their race easily.
This year we are seeing a whole new evolution in yacht racing because of record-setting speeds. The first America's Cup I ever covered was back in 1988 and Dennis Conner raced a catamaran in that one. At the time, nobody ever throughout that would happen again.
Way back in the dark ages, America's Cup boats were monohulls, and the guys in the back of the boat looked older and heavier -- they were the brain trust. They didn't have to be fast and strong and with cat-like reflexes.
"They would sort of lounge around in the back there and talk tactics, but now that's very, very different," said Stephen Barclay, the CEO of the America's Cup Event Authority.
How different? Well the youngest guys on the team aren't the grinders, they may well be the guys driving the boat. Artemis' wing trimmer is the youngest on their team and is the second youngest, Nathan Outteridge, is the helmsman.
Outteridge: Yeah, they've kind of given the kids the reigns at the moment."
Matthews: "What's that like?"
Outteridge: "It's awesome, you know."
It couldn't be otherwise. Driving an $8 million boat at about 50 mph across the bay -- yeah, that would qualify as awesome. And to be fit enough to do that, the teams have hired Olympic trainers to run individual workouts for every sailor on board.
"We do a lot of fast feet work, a lot of agility," said a trainer.
Imagine running across a trampoline that's going pretty close to 45 mph down a bumpy road and you don't want to be thinking about where your feet are. You've got to be thinking about your job, in spite of the fact the wind is roaring.
"It's very similar to putting your head out the car window down the motor way at 80 mph, pretty much," said Craig Monk, an Artemis Racing grinder.
No, there's not a lot in common with the 20-ton keel boats of the past.
"It's sort of more like flying some aircraft as opposed to sailing. Like upwind it's a conventional catamaran, and then as soon as you turn to go downwind, it pops out of the water and you have to have a really good feel for and good reflexes as to what's going to happen," said Outteridge.
And that's why the kids are driving the boats. It's a sea change in the 162 history of the America's Cup and the Bay Area is the first to see it.
america's cup, san francisco bay, boats, sports, mark matthews
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