“New” Little America’s Cup Attracts Dynamic C-Class Catamarans and International Talent
Six days of fleet and match racing with wing rigs
NEWPORT, R.I. (July 29, 2010) – Six (possibly seven — pending dramatic repairs) of the fastest, lightest, highly innovative 25-foot catamarans will compete on America’s Cup courses off the coast of Newport, RI.
August 22-28, New York Yacht Club will host the International C-Class Catamaran Championship, also known as The Little America's Cup.
Nine fleet races will seed the match racing contenders for actual Cup racing. With speculators reviewing monohull and multihull options for the (Big) America’ s Cup, this C-Class event provides all of the technology, sportsmanship and spectator highlights that favor a multihull design.
“The boats are the most efficient sailing machines on the water,” maintain Fred Eaton and Magnus Clarke. Winners of the 2007 trophy at the Royal Canadian Yacht Club, in Toronto, they will unveil their new boat, Canaan, in Newport.
Designers are free to experiment. There are no weight or material restrictions. The boats are custom built by the teams to be extremely light — to the edge in fact. With wing rigs they are capable of twice the wind speeds seen on most race courses.
“We can fly a hull in less than five knots of breeze while double trapezing in just six knots of wind,” says Clarke. They can sail fast, but can their repair skills match their boatspeed? A wing was destroyed by a 30-knot gust during mid-July sail trials.
“The mast and control system look intact, and it seems that many of the moldings are OK as well. This wing is not dead, it’s just pining for the fjords!” commented Steve Clark in an online review of the photos. His optimism sums up the technological camaraderie of the fleet.
Clark, along with three longtime multihull champions from Bristol, RI will race the new Aethon, and Cogito, the former gold standard C-Class Cat. The regatta will be as much about twist control as it will be about the latest in pre-impregnated unidirectional carbon, laminate strength, Autoclaves and thermal coefficients.
James Spithill, helmsman of BMW Oracle’s 90-foot catamaran, and winner of the 33rd America’s Cup, will ramp up the focus with fellow Australian Glenn Ashby, an Olympic Silver medallist in multihulls and nine-time, A-Class, world champion.
Paul Larsen, another renowned high-speed sailor will drive England’s entry, Invictus. The event will also feature the French team of Antoine Koch and Jean-Baptiste Le Vaillant.
Six days of sailing, six boats, and only seven design rules. If the Toronto-based shore crew can pull together another wing assembly, the start line will see seven high-speed cats. Three races a day, each totaling six miles, will make for remarkable racing. The exact location on Narragansett Bay is weather dependent.
Sailors, designers, engineers, and lovers of high-speed action can inspect the boats at close range for days prior to the event at Sail Newport, Fort Adams. From August 21 onwards boats will be stored at NYYC. Live footage and post-race interviews will be available.
WHERE: New York Yacht Club, Harbour Court, 5 Halidon Avenue, Newport, RI 02840
www.nyyc.org/cclass <http://www.nyyc.org/cclass> or 401-846-1000
Steve Clark Looks to Retake “Little America’s Cup” at International C-Class Catamaran Championship
Newport, R.I. (August 5, 2010) – Steve Clark has been dreaming of winning back the Little America’s Cup for the USA ever since he lost it to Canada in 2007. In 1996, Clark’s 25- foot C-Class Catamaran Cogito (pronounced with a soft g) had blown away designers and engineers with its mammoth wing sail and unmatchable speed, and with helmsman Duncan MacLane and crew Erich Chase it handily defeated Australia’s defender Edge IV on Port Phillip Bay to win the International C-Class Catamaran Championship, fondly referred to as the Little America’s Cup. Cogito became and remained the gold standard of C-Class Catamarans for the next eleven years, a place in C-Class cat history to which Clark wishes to return by entering his new boat, Aethon, launched earlier this year, in the 2010 Little America’s Cup, set for August 22-28 off Newport.
Clark’s goals for this Cup are oddly reminiscent of what they were for the 1996 event. Clark’s first experience in the C-Class had been in 1985 when he was involved in Patient Lady VI’s unsuccessful defense of the Cup, losing to Australia’s Victoria 150. It was largely this defeat that drove Clark to develop Cogito. Now, his “Cogito Project” is back where it started: testing a new boat and taking aim at winning the Cup back again.
The 2010 Little America’s Cup, to be headquartered at the New York Yacht Club’s on-the-water clubhouse Harbour Court, will host a total of four countries (US, Canada, England, France) and seven boats, including Alpha, the boat with which, in 2007, Canadian Fred Eaton wrested the Cup from Clark. Clark will skipper Aethon with crew Oliver Moore (Marion Mass.), while his second U.S. entry Cogito—yes, the same Cogito that held on to the Cup for 11 years—will be sailed by A-Class North American Champion Lars Guck and bronze medalist Andrew Gaynor (both Bristol, R.I.).
According to Clark, Cogito, still very much a competitive boat and sailed by a crack crew, has every bit as much chance at winning as any of the C-class cats, but it is Aethon that now has Clark’s heart and limitless energy behind it. ”The plan was always to wait and build a new boat only when the old one had been beaten, but I’ve really been wanting to build Aethon for ten years” said Clark, noting that the two boats have been trial-testing in Bristol all spring and summer.
To say that a C-Class catamaran is an amazing boat is an understatement. “Everything about the C-Class is extraordinary” said Clark. “Just getting a boat to the regatta and competing is a significant achievement.” There are few design restrictions on the class beyond length (25 feet), beam (14 feet) and sail area (300 square feet), and there is no weight minimum. The sail plans (hard wing sails) and blades are so efficient that once the C-Cats fly a hull, they can sail through patches of almost no wind at all by simply using their own apparent wind.
Seven of the fastest boats in the world, on the same course, at the same time—that’s how the Little America’s Cup will start off. Then, after nine fleet races, pairs for match racing will be established and a winner will eventually be determined.
But if the Americans want to win the Cup they have to first get by the Canadians. Since winning the Cup with Alpha, Fred Eaton’s team has not been idle, producing Orion in 2008 and Canaan in 2010. They expect to bring all three boats to the starting line on the 22nd with Eaton and Magnus Clarke aboard Canaan and BMW-Oracle skipper James Spithill and A-Class world champion Glen Ashby slated to sail Alpha. Pending major wing repairs, Rob Paterson and an as-yet-unnamed helmsman should sail Orion .
England’s “Team Invictus” will be returning to the C-Class circuit after an unsuccessful first challenge in 2004 with Invictus I. The English, led by Norman Wijker, now have Invictus II, which features a new wing and a more polished program overall. Paul Larsen of Sail Rocket will take the helm of Invictus II while Gordon Kaiser remains as crew.
Representing continental Europe will be Antoine Koch and Jean Baptiste Levaillant of France. The French have chartered 1985 Cup defender and 2004 silver medalist Patient Lady VI from the Canadians and will be at the event primarily to get their feet wet as they plan a future campaign.
Seven boats and four nations mark the most competitors and countries at a C-Class event in more than two decades. Winning the America’s Cup for the USA--it’s a tall order but one that is familiar to Steve Clark.
Sailors, designers, engineers, and lovers of high-speed action can inspect the boats at close range for days prior to the event at Sail Newport, Fort Adams. From August 21 onwards boats will be stored at NYYC. For more information, visit www.nyyc.org <http://www.nyyc.org> .
Statement from Steve Clark
August 19, 2010
Aethon Wing at Little America’s Cup, August 22-28 off Newport
This week, the new wing for the C Class catamaran Aethon was revealed, trialed, and withdrawn. Control system problems caused damage to the wing’s airfoil surfaces. These were too extensive to be repaired and tested before the start of the International C Class Catamaran Championship on August 22. The team has therefore decided to scratch the entry of Cogito, and use her wing on Aethon in the Little America’s Cup.
Steve Clark, owner of both boats, designed and built Aethon with his nephew Oliver Moore over the last 18 months. He designed and built the new wing hoping to achieve something new. The wing weighs just 140 pounds, about 30 pounds lighter than Cogito’s wing and probably about 15 pounds lighter than the Canadian’s wingsails. The wing also has solid composite skins, which are better aerodynamically than the typical heat shrink covering, and has a more extensive twist control system that allows Clark and Moore to vary the trim of the wing throughout its entire span.
“The way the thing works” said Clark, “is that they are all interrelated. You cannot get the weight savings without adding complexity to the control system. During the brief time that we had everything working Oliver and I were highly impressed by the performance and potential of the new wing. We thought we had hit a home run. But some old boogiemen like stretch and bending caused certain parts to bear loads that they weren’t engineered to take and they folded up exactly like you would expect them too.”
The withdrawal of the second American entry means that Lars Guck and Andrew Gaynor, initially slated to sail Cogito at the event, will now be moved to first and second alternate. “ I feel very bad about having to scratch and entry to the regatta” continued Clark. “We thought long and hard about what it would take to repair the wing and get to the starting line, but we concluded that it simply wouldn’t be possible. We would be showing up with a completely untested and untuned rig. We would have no confidence that we could complete the program, and would most likely have to do a series of mid regatta fixes under great pressure with little time. This would mean that we had the real opportunity of going backwards and turning something that has the potential to be extraordinary into a piece of junk. The work of the last six months could be completely thrown away.”
“We have no one to blame for this than ourselves. We did not manage to get the assembly done early enough to have suitable time to test and debug the new wing. As it happened, because we were so late to the water, any problem would have been significant, and a minor problem became a game ender.”
While Clark voiced his disappointment, he also made it clear that he feels quite confident in the team’s chances using Cogito’s rig. “Cogito’s wing is a great power plant” Clark concluded. “It is proven and we know how to sail it very well. We think there is enough innovation in Aethon’s hulls and foils to give us a reasonable chance at winning the regatta. And that’s what we are going to try to do.”
Below are two photos, both with Aethon on port tack. In one she has the new wing, in the other she has Cogito’s. The differences are fairly obvious.
At the Races Day 1
By Michael Levitt, communications director NYYC, firstname.lastname@example.org
NEWPORT, RI, August 25, 2010 -- The nor’easter departed New England today — more or less — and is off to ruin Canada for a couple of days. Its departure — better late than never — gave the half-dozen winged multihulls sailing in the International C-Class Catamaran Championship at the New York Yacht Club’s Harbour Court a chance to stop talking and start performing. As if they needed any other encouragement.
Wednesday’s racing took place near Half Way Rock, north of the Pell Bridge, to minimize the remnants of the seas and breeze from the northeast. The wind at the start of the first race was 16 to 20 with puffs pushing it a bit higher. In the first race, Alpha, sailed by Australians Glenn Ashby and James Spithill, had a brilliant port-tack start. It was a shot over the bow. Ashby is an Olympic Silver Medalist and nine-time A-Class, world champion; Spithill was helmsman on BMW Oracle’s wing-sailed trimaran that won the recent 33rd America’s Cup.
Certainly a major story line was the first-leg capsize of Aethon, Steve Clark's and Oliver Moore’s C-Class Cat. This was a new boat for Clark, an American, the absolute prime-mover in the class, who held the International C-Class Catamaran trophy for 11 years, from 1996-2007. Clark has been as important to the class as Tony DiMauro was to the previous generation. These boats motor — on the sunny side of 20 knots — and the disturbed air off a freighter set off a chain reaction that resulted in a capsize and the loss of the wing.
There would be other casualties as well. Orion, sailed by a Canadian team of Dan Cunningham and Rob Paterson, dropped out of the first race with a broken chainplate, and the venerable Patient Lady VI, sailed by the French team of Antoine Koch and Jérémie Lagarrigue, had rudder problems. All were accounted for. Indeed, Patient Lady VI returned to finish the second race and the third.
Ashby and Spithill were passed on the first leg by the event’s defender Canadians Fred Eaton and Magnus Clarke. Then it was a full-on rumble between these two cats, both designed by Steve Killing, and indeed, both owned by Eaton. Anyone who ever said that multihulls can’t match race was forever silenced by this display.There were passes galore – the absolute essence of racing. The winning margin was two seconds in the Australians’ favor.
The second race, in 12 to 14 knots of wind, was less dramatic with Ashby and Spithill leading Eaton and Clarke around the course.
The third race of the day was won by the Canadians, Fred Eaton and Magnus Clarke onboard Canaan.
And tomorrow is another day…
Results after day 1:
Alpha AUS 1 4
Canaan CAN 9 5
Invictus GBR 38 10
Patient Lady VI FRA 2 14
Aethon USA 104 21
Orion CAN 8 21
Statement from Steve Clark: Aethon Wing Destroyed; Americans Out of International C Class Catamaran Championship
Yesterday the C-Class Catamaran Aethon capsized after the start of race one of the International C Class Catamaran Championship (long nicknamed the “Little America’s Cup”) and her wing was destroyed. The team hit a patch of turbulence left by a freighter for which they were not prepared and were unable to react in time. Crew Oliver Moore lost his footing and was washed off the boat with the mainsheet wrapped around his leg. As the wing rapidly trimmed in, the boat capsized and helmsman Steve Clark, unable to get out of his trapeze in time, fell through the wing, breaking the mast in the process. Both crew members would be fine, and the platform would suffer only minor damages, but what was left of the wing was all but disintegrated in the three-mile tow back to New York Yacht Club’s Harbor Court.
“The thing I would like to stress here,” said Clark, “is that this was not a product of the conditions. It was a freak accident that could have happened at any time, at any wind speed. If the wing is trimmed all the way to windward and can’t be eased the boat will tip over, and these boats are not designed to do that. It’s a tough end to the last 18 months of work Oliver and I put in, but sometimes these things happen.”
When asked for his thoughts on the sudden death of a wing that had been the best the class had to offer for 11 years Clark was characteristically jovial. “That wing gave us everything it had,” said Clark. “The last time we sailed in heavy air, I told Duncan (MacLane, the wing’s designer), ‘if something goes wrong with the wing here I’m fine with it.’ It has done everything we asked of it for over a decade. If it goes down in flames so be it. At least now I don’t need to decide which museum to donate it to.”
While obviously disappointed in being out of the regatta, Clark was still optimistic about his team’s chances in the future. “Aethon is done for this event, but it is not done for good,” stressed Clark. “In the time that we were racing I felt like we had a rocket. We got away from the line very well and were about to tack on Canaan’s hip, on the inside of the shift, and should have been set up to win the race. It is a tough break for our team that we won’t be able to sail in the rest of the regatta, but we hope to have the new wing up and working soon, and plan on mounting a future challenge. We are going to keep playing this game.”
Despite the loss of Aethon, Clark believes that the event is still set up to be a great success for the C-Class and for the sailing world. “Obviously I would enjoy it more if I were out there,” said Clark, “but there is still some great racing going on out there. Our wing may be broken but the event goes on, and I will be watching with great interest.”