The Race to Barcelona: America's Cup Teams Dive Deep into Preparations

Sailing's Elite Prepare for America's Cup Showdown

by Nouman Rasool
The Race to Barcelona: America's Cup Teams Dive Deep into Preparations
© Clive Mason/GettyImages

As the world's most prestigious sailing competition, the America's Cup, gears up for its 37th iteration in the heart of Catalonia, the intrigue behind the scenes is palpable. With its rich history dating back 172 years to 1851, the competition, often dubbed the "grandfather of all sporting events," has seen a radical evolution in boat design, engineering, and strategy.

Two teams capturing significant attention hail from France and Italy. Setting base in Barcelona, these contenders have been assimilating to Catalan waters, studying sea conditions, and undergoing rigorous training. Among them, the French entrant, Orient Express, has faced a unique challenge.

Having confirmed their participation late, their expedited preparation phase has been a testament to their dedication.

Orient Express: Rising America's Cup Outsider

Stephan Kandler, the brains behind Orient Express Racing Team, shed light on their journey: "Despite our late entry in July and operating on a relatively tighter budget, we've quickly established our base and began sailing.

Given France's rich sailing legacy, we're optimistic about matching strides with the more established teams. Our vessel is top-notch, and while many might perceive us as the 'underdog,' I'd prefer the term 'outsider' for the America's Cup." The earlier Vilanova regatta saw teams navigating the waters in the AC40, a 40-foot marvel, a precursor to the grand AC75 that will dominate the 2024 races.

Francesco Bruni, the adept helmsman from Italy's Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli, explained the meticulous process of the yacht's creation: "Our team, comprising 20 to 50 dedicated designers, has been given a two-year window to craft this masterpiece.

Ultimately, it takes shape in our home country, Italy." As the clock ticks down, the transformation of Barcelona's port is in full swing, prepping for the six elite sailing units. But the sea, with its unpredictable moods, remains the ultimate challenge.

Bruni mused on Barcelona's sailing environment: "The challenging sea state here, characterized by frequent waves but inconsistent winds, makes it a distinctive venue. But recent conditions have been promising." The road to the America's Cup is paved with multiple preliminary regattas post-Vilanova.

Quentin Delapierre from Orient Express shared his philosophy, emphasizing the need for ambition tempered with pragmatism: "We approach each phase with ambition but also recognize the importance of taking it one step at a time, being smart, and sticking to a straightforward strategy.

2024 holds promise, and we're here for it." For a deeper dive into these insights and more, tune into the 'Filling the Sink' podcast episode dated September 16, 2023.