You mentioned the team there – what does an America’s Cup team look like?
It’s a big operation – there are more than 100 of us out here. There’s a really strong squad of boat builders and shore crew, who are very important as there is so much resting on the reliability of the boat. We also have designers and engineers who are absolutely critical to the performance of the boat. Of course, we need some sailors too We have 19 sailors now, with 11 onboard at any given time, and we’ll be rotating some of them throughout the racing to keep everyone fresh and strong. Beyond that we also have everything that goes into a successful America’s Cup organisation, from the human performance team in the gym through to the chefs in the kitchen and the support teams in the office.
The result of that team effort is an America’s Cup boat that looks to us like it’s half-sailing, half-flying. What’s it like to be on board?
They are mostly flying! If we’re doing our job right, it should be flying pretty much the whole time. America’s Cup boats are amazing boats to sail – they can reach around 50 knots (60mph). The raw power is insane really, and they are incredibly impressive to see when they are out on the water and flying around.
It sounds like the races will make for good TV viewing for anyone stuck back in the UK?
Very much so. The TV element of the cup has come on a huge amount. The 2013 America's Cup was ground-breaking for the technology that went into the TV production: they brought in the virtual boundaries on the course, cameras on the boats, and audio coming off the boat. Then there’s the plain fact these boats are now lifting up off of the water and flying around the course. From a viewing perspective, that makes it much more high impact, intense and easier to follow than traditional sailing. It also makes it more appealing to a younger audience – I think it’s got huge broadcast potential as a sport.
You’ve got four Olympic gold medals in the locker. What gets you out of bed and onto an America’s Cup boat?
For me – and for a lot of the team – it’s the fact Britain has never won the America’s Cup. We all have a drive to right that wrong in our maritime history. If we could win the cup and bring it back to the UK for the first time in 170 years, that would be a massive moment – and that’s certainly enough to get me out of the bed in the morning!