Russell Coutts on Superyachts at the Battle of Bermuda

By Ben Roberts

Sir Russell Coutts, the former America’s Cup champion turned CEO of the prestigious America’s Cup Event Authority, joined in London to discuss the battle of Bermuda 2017 and the upcoming Superyacht Programme.

How did the last leg in Japan leave things for Bermuda 2017?
“The series has been a great success. From a sports perspective, the results have been largely unpredictable and I think there are a lot of surprises still to come. There’s so much improvement and development to take place, most of which will be seen in the ability of the sailors as they learn to use the technology.

For example, learning how trim the wingsail. All the yachts have the same relative technology but how you then apply that or how you do a foiling tack, that hasn’t come because of major technology, but instead how the sailors are learning to use the technology. I think that’s fascinating and will continue to develop and create intrigue over the next three months.”

How is this final a more gladiatorial event than other races?
“Anytime you get that sort of interest in a sporting event, as a competitor, I can recall feeling that pressure, and none more so than in this America’s Cup. There’s going to be more media attention and more spectator interest than there has ever been before. You’re going to get some great racing, see different winners in different conditions, and that’s going to be intriguing. It will be interesting to see it all evolve.  There will be some fascinating tactical calls, I think the starts will be important but, ultimately, people want to come to see a sailing race, and to come and see who the best is.”

How is Bermuda naturally positioned as an amphitheatre both for yachts and the America's Cup?
“I think Bermuda will be rediscovered by the boating industry after this event. In a way, perhaps it has not had the profile it deserves in recent years, but that will change. Bermuda is blessed with a superb natural environment where you have a racecourse with no real hills around it, so you get great wind conditions. It has beautiful clean water, that is relatively warm at that time of year, it is crystal clear in summer and there is a lot of natural marine wildlife in the environment, so in many ways it’s as close to perfect as you can get.”

How has Bermuda become a partner in the upcoming race?
“We have a motivated partner in Bermuda. They’re very proud of their island and they want to create the very best event they can for their guests. For instance, they’re building a dock by the airport allowing anyone flying in or out of the island, and especially for those who have their own superyacht in Bermuda, to be picked up upon arrival with their tender, to be delivered  directly to their yacht or any of the hotels with water access. That, to me, is just part of a game changing experience that they’re looking to create for the long term.”

What can you tell us about the Superyacht Programme?
“We are sold out on the America’s Cup Superyacht Program. We started off allowing up to 40 berths, we’ve had to increase that to 50 berths now and there’s more than 80 large yachts coming to Bermuda for the event. The yachts that are part of our Superyacht program have access to exclusive viewing areas around the race course and the ones that aren’t will still be able to enjoy the event without the privileged access the yachts in our program will have, but, of course they will still have the chance to enjoy beautiful Bermuda!

BWA Yachting have partnered with the America’s Cup Event Authority and are providing the superyachts in the program a fantastic range of experiences and services. BWA Yachting are superyacht industry experts and because the America’s Cup Event Authority is the organising body for the whole 35th America’s Cup, not specialists in superyachts, we decided to bring in BWA to take care of this aspect of the event, They do have the expertise, the relationships with captains and boat owners, and they’re doing a great job. We’re confident that our superyacht clients will be well-serviced in Bermuda, and have a great time, as will everyone who comes to Bermuda, or tunes in form anywhere in the world on TV or online to follow our event.”

With the Louis Vuitton America's Cup Qualifiers taking place on May 27th with a view of the Cup Match commencing 17th June, the road to Bermuda is paved with excitement for both spectators and superyachts alike.

By Ben Roberts