"We will see the birth of a new breed of athletes"

Grant Dalton (Auckland, New Zealand, 66 years old) is the one who moves the strings of the America's Cup of sailing, the oldest sports competition in the world.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
15 May 2024 Wednesday 23:12
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"We will see the birth of a new breed of athletes"

Grant Dalton (Auckland, New Zealand, 66 years old) is the one who moves the strings of the America's Cup of sailing, the oldest sports competition in the world. He has just landed in Barcelona to settle in for the start of the appointment at the end of August.

There are three months left until the event begins. At what point is the preparation?

I would say that the teams are better organized than one would expect. This time it is not clear who is in front. At first, I would have said that the Italians from Luna Rossa. It may still be. But the English have pulled off a very nice boat thanks to the support of Mercedes. There is nothing wrong with the American. Those who challenge us as a whole are stronger than I thought. They knew they had to do better to beat us this time. And they have done it.

You have just landed. The Italians will arrive in a week. The Swiss have been here for years. Who is right?

Yes, everyone has their own strategy and I don't think there is a right or wrong answer. The Americans and the English have been here all winter. We built the boat in New Zealand and sailed all summer. When someone wins, I don't think it's because of the planning strategy.

On board the AC75 there will be athletes who come from canoeing or cycling to do strength work. what do you think

Basically, the America's Cup is a technological race, and I see no reason why the teams have to be pure sailors. To me, it's pretty cool that we're producing a crosscode playable sport, but it depends on how purist you are.

Don't seafaring arts matter in these flying ships?

The AC75 is not a boat for traditional sailors. The perfect America's Cup sailor, apart from having a drawer full of Olympic medals, will probably have a career in engineering. Peter Burling is a good example. You have to understand mechanics and manage the speed at which you have to react because things happen very quickly, like in a racing car. So, we are facing a new generation, without a doubt. It's a new breed. The old sailors don't even come close. They don't have the necessary skills.

Will whoever has the best boat or the best crew win?

There is a saying that the fastest boat will always win the America's Cup, and that has been true since 1851. That hasn't changed. But good sailors make fast ships. A good example would be Verstappen. Or Lewis Hamilton. In both cases, their contribution to the tuning of the car is fundamental. Although the importance of the ship is greater than that of the navigator, we are probably at 70%-30%. But the sailor has a lot to do in the creation of this 70%.

What characteristic should an AC75 sailor have?

It needs a good understanding of physics. Nowadays, young people aged between 14 and 15 ask me what they have to do to work in this sector. Years ago I would have told them to be sailors or ship builders. Now those things are still good, but I would tell them to go to college and study computer science or mechanical engineering. This is where the sport is now. The teams are 150 people. We have 48 engineers, when people think we do yacht design. And now. It's carbon engineering, it's hydrodynamics, it's aerodynamics, it's sensory data management.

Do you still think Barcelona was a good decision?

Yes, absolutely. Except that today I got wet riding my bike to work, which is the first time in two years that it has rained.

Could you repeat as yours?

We should win first. But we are preparing documents in June to start seeing possibilities. New Zealand is there, obviously. It would also be necessary to see if Barcelona would be interested in submitting a candidacy or not. Maybe they want to see the economic impact.

Can the youth and women's format with smaller boats go unnoticed?

The youth and women's regattas will be broadcast exactly the same as the America's Cup regattas, live on YouTube, live on our websites. I think our expectation is that a new nation will emerge or the rebirth of one, for example, Australia. Or Spain Wouldn't it be great if one of these six teams won the Copa America in the future? And wouldn't it be great if we created a way for women to be in the next America's Cup?

Wouldn't it have been better to see them next to the men in an AC75?

In that case, they would enter by quota, and I think that's really derogatory to women. If I were a woman, I would feel slighted if I were told that I'm just there for that. I'd rather know that I'm there because I've earned my place. They will not be able to produce enough force to be in certain roles on board. But from what I've seen, there's no reason why they can't knock a man out of combat in other positions where not many watts of power are needed.

Can the SailGP sailing circuit overshadow the America's Cup?

SailGP is a league. All ships are the same. But one of the characteristics of the America's Cup for 173 years is that it is a technological regatta. Is Formula 2, where the cars are all the same, as good as Formula 1? The answer is no. The Holy Grail is the America's Cup. A competition that is not for everyone. It will never be fifteen teams. And frankly, I don't think it should be.

Are foils or ailerons that make boats fly the future?

Yes. Nobody wants to go slow.

But they are difficult to control.

Easy sailing ships are slower. An Airbus 380 is easier to fly than an F-18 fighter jet. In the first, you have to be sure. In the second, go to the limit. And you can't pilot it alone: ​​you need the help of a computer. Our motto is: we design the fastest boat possible. Then we will learn to wear it.

What weather is expected in Barcelona for October?

The key will be the waves. All the teams know that they will have to fight, unlike in previous editions. But think that with fifteen knots of wind, these boats go at almost 100 km/h.