With some 30 years invested in the event, 53-year-old Paul Cayard is no stranger to the America’s Cup. As CEO of the Swedish-flagged Artemis Racing, Cayard’s taken on the task of building an AC team from scratch, a massive undertaking given the complexity of the boats, the nature of the racing environment on San Francisco Bay, the expense, and limited time within which to make it all happen. The recent dismissal of skipper Terry Hutchinson and the team’s struggles to get its first AC72 sailing might indicate some turmoil in the team, but Cayard feels his team is as well positioned as can be going forward.
Boats and equipment aside, what’s been different in the America’s Cup for you in your role at Artemis Racing?
PC: Apart from the obvious things like building the boat, the wing and all the things that people see, Artemis is a new team so we’ve had to build the team. We started assembling people about two years ago and now have some 120 people. It’s a medium-sized business and to run something like that is an undertaking of itself, let alone the actual task that you’re trying to perform. Oracle, ETNZ, and Luna Rossa were ongoing teams, so it’s been a little easier for them to focus on the task right away.
In sailing in general, equipment makes a big difference in the outcome, but more than ever before, in this America’s Cup it’s been complicated, ultra high tech, and certainly expensive. You could almost say that this America’s Cup in some ways is a boat-building competition. We’re building two boats and three wings. Each wing has about 25,000 man-hours in it and each boat has about 50,000 man-hours in it. A Version 5 from the previous Cup had about 22 to 25,000 man-hours in it and we were only allowed to build two back in those days. So when you think about it, we’re building seven Version 5 boats and we’re still doing it in 2 ½ years. It’s a heck of a lot of work for the boat builders and eventually the shore team to maintain. This America’s Cup is extremely equipment intensive.
Is it disappointing to go through all this knowing you’re not going to have the time to get up to speed on these boats?
PC: You could say it’s disappointing, but it’s the nature of this race. Even if we had another year, it’s a fundamental fact when you change a class of boat that you’ll always be leaving something on the table, it’s part of the game. You’re never going to get to 100 percent, so the strategy and tactics have to revolve around the fact that you acknowledge that you’re not going to get everything done and have everything perfect. It depends on the path that you take on that will get you the farthest up the ladder, which is an interesting part of the game. It’s frustrating on the one hand, but we plan and train for that. If you identify the scope of work that you can realistically take on, then you won’t feel that pressure because you would have designed a good game plan.
How is Artemis prioritizing what needs to be done?
PC: We need to understand the limits of these boats and that revolves a lot around the dagger boards and what they can provide in terms of lift. From a very basic standpoint these boats will have trouble just simply getting around the course safely in 25 to 30 knots of wind. They are extremely overpowered boats. The sooner we can understand what it means to sail near to the edge then how to create some buffer for the boat so it doesn’t go over the edge and capsize or pitch-pole, the better.
We’ve had some bad breaks in Artemis: we broke our wing in May and it really delayed sailing on our 72. I think it’s fair to say we’re a little on the back foot compared to our competitors. They all got sailing before we did. We’re sailing today even though it’s kind of a blustery day but we need to push the boat and get out there because in July and August, every day will be blustery. In order to do that we felt it was important to have Loïck Peyron’s experience in our campaign; his many years of big multi hull experience is a big advantage. He’s helping us fast track our learning and we need that.
You have a new afterguard, what was the driving force was behind moving Terry out & Nathan into the driver’s seat?
PC: We had Nathan, Terry, and Loïck at one point. I think Nathan and Loick are arguably the best at what they do. Nathan is obviously the best skiff sailor—probably—in the world; he’s four times world champion, he just won a gold medal in London without even having to sail the medal race. He has a great feel for fast boats, he’s 26 years old and he has a great future in multihull sailing. He’s the Moth world champion, the Moth is a foiling boat. We’re going to be some amount of foiling in these 72s, so that’s what Nathan brings to the table. Loïck brings all that I’ve just mentioned. Loïck is sailing today because it’s the first time we’re sailing in over 20 knots of wind. Nathan will sail the boat some day, but for his first time we feel that in over 20 knots of wind, the 30 years of experience that Loïck has is unique and an insurance policy of sorts.
Those two guys are covering a very unique spot at the helm. Terry was definitely the best match racer, he is a great sailor, but it was really Iain Percy, who was and still is the tactician. He’s a strong figure who was becoming the center of gravity of the crew throughout the fall after he’d finished with the Olympics. So, we had a number of personalities involved, we felt it was healthier to lean out the team by one and taking all things together unfortunately we had to part ways with Terry who is a great guy and a person I consider a friend of mine. It’s been extremely hard on a personal level to come to that conclusion and execute that.
Often these kinds of changes can upset the internal chemistry of a team, especially this close to the big event. How have you managed this internally?
PC: To start, it didn’t really catch everybody by surprise so while it was difficult it wasn’t some wild idea to those involved. It is hard, we feel Terry’s absence, but at the same time the other personalities are flourishing and growing into his space. Percy has really taken over as the leader of the sailing team. He’s a very charismatic guy, whereas before he was subservient to Terry. As far as managing it, that’s where I come in, that’s where the 53-year old does have an advantage in that I’ve been around these programs a few times and different stressful in situations in [Whitbread/Volvo round the world races] or in the America’s Cup. I am close to the sailing team. I’ve been sailing on the boat every single time it’s been out. I’m sad about the fact that we needed to make that change, but we did.
Do you think that the Cup is becoming a younger person’s competition, between the athleticism and skill set required to compete?
PC: I think that’s true. I think younger sailors are a product of the new America’s Cup and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Personally, for me and a few others, we’ve kind of designed ourselves out of a position on the boat, but thats just the way it is.
What’s the progress on Artemis’ boat 2?
PC: Our second boat will be launched in April here in San Francisco. We have the two AC45 events in Naples (April) and New York (May). We will try to find ways to handle those but we really just need to focus on our AC72 and San Francisco Bay, learn the racecourse and the limits of these boats. The first big challenge is going to be just to sail it well, not have it break down day in and day out in San Francisco in the summertime here in very harsh conditions.