American raceboat owners Hap Fauth, of Naples, Florida, and Doug DeVos, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, were destined to make an appearance in the America’s Cup arena. Fauth, the intensely focused man behind the big wheel of the 72-foot Maxi Bella Mente, and DeVos at the tiller of Quantum Racing’s TP52, have both reached their respective pinnacles through long campaigns culminating with multiple world championship titles. Beyond every peak, however, lies another, and today Fauth, DeVos, and the New York YC, announced their intent to challenge for the 36th America’s Cup in 2021.
As Emirates Team New Zealand’s vision for the next edition came into sharper focus after winning in Bermuda in June, Fauth, DeVos and skipper Terry Hutchinson approached the New York YC to partner. “It’s another step toward what we feel is representative of the sport,” said Hutchinson in conference call today. “It’s been about six month’s worth of work, and the start of a lot more to come, but I look at our team today and we have a lot of great sailing infrastructure in place and a program that’s been operating at a very high level for the better part of five years.”
As far as the New York YC’s involvement, it’s early days and more of a supportive role. “We do expect some of the membership to be involved in the syndicate,” said Commodore Phil Lotz. “We’re not going to solicit the club for support. We will enjoy being part of a well thought out and promising challenge. We’re excited about the Protocol and what’s been announced so far. We are involved because we think New Zealand and the challenger are headed in the right direction.”
When you talk about winning and defending, in the grand scheme of things, if we’re successful on the water, the goal would be to have developed a team of younger sailors that can then go on and defend it. We have to do a good enough job to develop the younger generation.
Should the New York YC win it and find itself in the defensive position it once held for more than a century, says Lotz, Newport, Rhode Island, would the natural venue and plenty capable of hosting.
Announced as Bella Mente Quantum Racing Association, Hutchinson acknowledged that the timing was too early to talk budgets, but the challenge would continue to find commercial and private funding to support the challenge. “It will be a U.S.-flagged team,” says the Annapolis, Maryland, skipper who also stated he would not be the helmsman. “When you travel and race the 52s and 72s you realize there is a massive gap in sailing between my generation and those coming out of college. As a team, we want to attract the base of our sport and return the Cup back to the base of our support.”
“The America’s Cup is sailing’s most complex challenge,” says Fauth. “Winning takes a complete team effort, and I’ve always found tremendous satisfaction in bringing together a group of individuals in pursuit of one goal. With a return to a more traditional style of yacht and the windward-leeward courses with which the vast majority of racing sailors are intimately familiar, the 36th America’s Cup represents a unique opportunity to re-engage the grass roots of the sport and re-energize American sailing. A lot of what we’ve built with the Bella Mente program, and what Doug and his team have created with Quantum Racing, will go into the foundation of this campaign. But there’s still a tremendous amount of work to do over the next three-plus years. I’m excited to get started.”
Will the team be all American? Probably not, says Hutchinson. “The residency clause will be a difficult thing for teams to bring in outsiders. Our goal is a team that is U.S. based, one that is using and developing sailors in our country.
“When you talk about winning and defending, in the grand scheme of things, if we’re successful on the water, the goal would be to have developed a team of younger sailors that can then go on and defend it. We have to do a good enough job to develop the younger generation.”
In terms of details regarding the AC75 class expected to be announced in November, Hutchinson could not provide any further details but emphasized the challenge for Emirates Team New Zealand to balance participation, cost controls, and keeping the event as the technological pinnacle of sailing. “There will be a combination of advancements below the water and above the water,” he says. “Grant Dalton has a great responsibility and [Team New Zealand] is not taking it lightly.”