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The Brits Are Out, So Is One Italian Team, but…the Russians Are Coming

While others tell BMW Oracle Racing, "Thanks, but no thanks," regarding their dramatic remake of the America's Cup, Synergy team remains on course to become the first Russian team to contend for the Auld Mug.

October 6, 2010
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Sailing World

101005_Logutenko

Synergy team manager Maxim Logutenko says the Russian team is interviewing design teams with catamaran experience to jump start a campaign for the 34th America’s Cup. Courtesy Synergy Team

TeamOrigin’s decision to not pursue a campaign for the 34th America’s Cup is disheartening. Recent quotes from team principle Sir Keith Mills echo what many worry will be a majority opinion about BMW Oracle Racing’s vision for sailing’s grandest trophy: It’s your sandbox, and you’re entitled to make up the rules, but we just don’t think this will fly. Good luck.

Another Louis Vuitton Trophy team that is unlikely to pursue an America’s Cup campaign is Azzurra, though this anywhere near as surprising as TeamOrigin’s decision to abort. Azzurra, while stocked with some potent Italian talent and backed by the world-renown Yacht Club Costa Smeralda on Sardinia, was essentially a pick-up team centered on Cup and Olympic vet Francesco Bruni. They had yet to invest in any significant design or technology assets.

Here’s a statement from Riccardo Bonadeo, President of Consorzio Azzurra and Commodore of the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, courtesy of the Azzurra PR team:

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“Consorzio Azzurra is currently assessing the most viable strategy to ensure the continued growth and development of the team following the relaunch of the historic brand and our successful participation in the Louis Vuitton Trophy events of 2009 and 2010. While a range of international races and circuits are under examination, at the moment it would be difficult to foresee the [Yacht Club Costa Smeralda] participating in the 34th America’s Cup. Together with the rest of the international sailing community, we sincerely hope that the new protocol will lead to a fair, innovative and successful edition of the event.”

That’s two down. But at least one other team is pushing forward. Last week, Maxim Logutenko, team manager for the Russian Synergy effort (currently in first at the TP 52 World Championships in Valencia, Spain), confirmed in an interview that the Synergy team is moving forward with its plan to be the first Russian team to contend for the America’s Cup.

At the Louis Vuitton Trophy La Maddalena in May, the Synergy team—with ex-Desafío Español helmsman Karol Jablonski on the wheel, ex-Alinghi pitman Josh Belsky running the cockpit, and ex-Oracle afterguard Rod Dawson calling tactics, among others—came within a whisker of winning the event, taking a 2-0 lead on Team New Zealand in the finals before losing three straight races.

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Maxim, what was Synergy’s reaction to the announcement of the class for the 34th America’s Cup?

Actually we were ready for such an announcement, which is why it was not news for us. We did a couple things to research the situation and this is why we were ready for this announcement. Probably we are happy. For us, it doesn’t matter really. We don’t have enough experience in construction and engineering of the of the big boats for the America’s Cup, like the ACC version 5. We are talking now with a very good design team, which has excellent experience in catamaran building.

Russell Coutts said he felt this change would level the playing field for many teams without previous America’s Cup experience. Has this change put your team on a more level footing?

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Yes.

How much input or dialogue did you have with either BMW Oracle Racing or Mascalzone Latino regarding the new class?

It was not really a dialogue, but BMW consulted with us on some things. Not really a dialogue but they were always asking us, what about these things, what about this, what do you think. It was quite a good process, quite fair.

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So you feel your opinions ended up influencing the final protocol?

Yes.

What does Synergy do now? How does your TP 52 and Louis Vuitton Trophy team transition to an AC72 catamaran campaign?

Actually we are ready to do this and we need to sort out the plan for the near future, the short-term plan. We just have to get the experience in multihulls, that’s it.

Does the fact that BMW Oracle Racing has built a wing sail give them a significant advantage?

Yes, for sure they have an advantage. I think this experience, which will we get in the 45-foot catamarans with wingsail, we’ll get some information and something to organize. We’ll have some experience soon. And we are starting to talk with some airplane design teams in Russia. We’ll get information from them as well.

What does this challenge mean for Russia? There was a half-baked challenge many years ago, but it never made it to the water.

All the Russian sailing community is proud and happy that we are going to do it. But the rest of the citizens don’t know sailing well. One of the goals for us is to promote sailing and promote the America’s Cup in Russia as well. We have sent a proposal to BMW Oracle to do one of the events in 2011 and 2012 in Sochi or St. Petersburg to promote the event and promote the team and promote sailing and the Cup in Russia. This is our goal as well.

Sochi is currently on the world map as the host of the 2014 Winter Olympics. But it’s also a summer resort?

Big summer and winter destination; only 50 km from shoreside to the mountain. Excellent place to sail and ski as well.

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