(Photo credit: Jim Brown)
As the America’s Cup is upon us, and three years of hard work now coming to a close I speak as an insider and the spouse of an America’s Cup designer and for all the families that also sleep, eat and breathe this event 24/7 for three years. We uproot our lives with our children, sometimes move to foreign countries, and adapt, creating new lives, friends, experiences and routines, knowing full well that, when it is over, we will close up shop and wonder what is next. We’ll go home and pick up where we left off three years prior. The emotional rollercoaster that an America’s Cup family rides is full of highs and lows; it doesn’t matter if you win or lose, if it’s a multi hull or a mono hull, the ride is the same.
Some of my highs began this past October when I was fortunate enough to get to sail on an Oracle AC 45 during a race. I remember the first bear away, the silence and the moment the weather hull lifted 15 feet out of the water, I had a smile bigger than the Cheshire Cat-it was breathtaking! Just last week I got the chance to ride on the America and watched the Oracle Team USA do a fly by, and if you haven’t been up close to an AC 72 burning up the runway at 40 knots, you don’t know what you’re missing! No print, YouTube or TV can truly capture that experience! I literally had goose bumps and some curse words were dropped – it was that amazing! Then, just two days ago, I was at Pier 29 grabbing some AC gear for the family when I saw eight AC 45’s ripping up the Bay. It was the Red Bull youth teams practicing and that’s when it hit me … wow, this was vision and what a platform for bringing a whole new generation into the sport. On my bike back to the train, I began to reflect back….
In 1983, at just 22 years old, I was drifting in a dinghy under the docks in Newport, Rhode Island when Alan Bond gave the motion and Austalia ll was lifted out of the water. I felt privileged to get the first glimpse of the “winged keel.” Imagine, a wing of lead under the water to now, where we have wings of carbon above and below the water. How times have changed.
In September 2010, when the AC 72 rule was published my husband (Scott Ferguson) and many others in the Oracle Racing camp were head-down wrestling with and designing the AC 45. The AC 45 was designed to introduce new teams to the event and give them a leg up on their AC 72 design. While others were strategizing their team’s designs for their AC 72, Scott was analyzing the wing of the AC 45. It truly felt like another AC campaign within itself, as the tension was palpable. I remember the morning they went for the first sail on the AC 45. It was mid January 2011, in Auckland NZ and Scott, who never gets moody or rattled, seemed unusually on edge as he left in the early morning dark. After all they were already mid production with 4-5 boats for an event to be held that May and they had to get it right. Well, what relief I felt when he came home that evening with the biggest smile. I asked him how it went and he beamed, ‘It was awesome!’
In hindsight, I am sure that many will agree that the AC 72 has been a bit of a challenge on all levels but you can’t get past the fact that these are the coolest boats to ever grace an America’s Cup stage. After all, the America’s Cup is the pinnacle of the sport and its design, build and sailing should reflect that-it should be the most challenging, and the final product, the most advanced.
Until you ride on an AC 45 or get kicked in the face by the water from an AC 72 fly-by, it’s hard to truly appreciate the magnitude of the technology, talent and skill involved.
~ Kim (aka, Mama Ferg)
The America’s Cup
Oracle Team USA
The Red Bulletin: Ready for Takeoff
My day on an AC 45