Bruno Troublé: We must return to the roots of the America's Cup
PARIS, FRA – With their suit, helmet and oxygen bottle, the sailors resemble Robocop. It has no elegance. –Bruno Troublé, the former French America's Cup skipper, founder of the Louis Vuitton Cup, and your Ed.'s longtime friend, who was interviewed by Guillaume Loisy for Le Figaro after Emirates Team New Zealand won the final AC35 race in Bermuda on Monday. The original article in French is here. Below is an English translation courtesy of Google, cleaned up a bit by your Ed....
At 72 years, Bruno Troublé still travels the globe. The only skipper who managed to hoist a French tricolor boat in 1980, FRANCE III, in the final of the challenger selection series for the America's Cup, will fly this week for New Zealand. He will meet in Auckland the schooner TARA, the former ship of Peter Blake, aboard which his son Romain runs a scientific expedition in the Pacific Ocean (100,000 km covered and 70 calls over two years).The creator of the Louis Vuitton Cup will also take advantage of it to celebrate the triumph of the New Zealanders in the 35th "Cup" which ended on Monday. And floor already on the contours of the next edition with his friends Kiwis. Obviously, there is work.
Le Figaro: What do you think of New Zealand's victory in the 35th America's Cup?
Bruno Troublé: I am thrilled because I love this passionate country of sailing. The New Zealanders had an extraordinary approach to this event. With a budget of 45 million euros, half as much as some of their competitors, they crushed everyone by taking risks. Their idea of putting cyclists on board to produce the necessary energy to make their catamaran advance, I thought it was great. He stepped out of their boat a permanent sweetness and balance. During the maneuvers, everyone knew what he had to do on board. It was "smooth," great.
Do you like the flying catamarans of 50 feet (15.24 m) used for this edition?
With each tack of these boats on their foils, I made shouts of happiness in front of my TV. The maneuvers of the New Zealanders in 10 knots of wind were not to fall. They were much more beautiful to see sailing than the others. These extraordinary boats have clearly brought something to sailing. But we only talk about foils. And for me, this is not the America's Cup. The sailors resemble Robocop. It has no elegance....
First, with their suit, helmet and oxygen bottle, the sailors resemble Robocop. It has no elegance. This is still a problem for the luxury brands, the usual sponsors of the Cup. Aboard the boats, no one has time to think about tactics. It has become a reflex. I had bet that the two youngest helmsmen, Peter Burling (26) and Nathan Outteridge (31), would rise to the Challengers final. I was right. Reactivity took precedence over reflection. If we continue on these boats, the future winners will be kids of 20 years, hyperreactive. We'll have to go get the champions in the video games tournaments (laughs). From my point of view, you should not take the Cup as a hostage to do that. We could very well have continued on monohulls.
For many, going back to monohulls would take a step backwards. What do you say to them?
That the monohulls have also made enormous progress! If we put as much energy into designing modern and fast monohulls as for these flying catamarans, we can do extraordinary things. There are also foils on the mono. Obviously, it will not work at 40 knots as on the AC50 but we will not drag either. It is not excluded that New Zealanders will return to monohulls. I'm part of a think tank on this. This will be exciting.
Eliminating a team after only eight days and ten regattas, as was the case for the French, is not good. What did the creator of the Louis Vuitton Cup think that you are of the formula of this 35 th America's Cup?
I do not like this format at all. Eliminating a team after only eight days and ten regattas, as was the case for the French, is not good considering the money and energy spent. During the Louis Vuitton Cup, we could not be eliminated for at least a month of racing. The teams had time to improve and show their sponsors. In the history of this event, there was also a magic moment when, at the first edge near the final, we finally saw the challenger confront the defender. It was a moment of extraordinary suspense. It did not last very long because generally the Americans went faster ( laughs ). But it was an intense moment. Today, see the defender participate in the qualifying and then leave with a point of advance for the final, I find it scandalous. For all these reasons, I said I would not go to Bermuda. I have kept my word.
What direction do you think the America's Cup should take?
We must return to the roots of the Cup. And that's what the New Zealanders will do. I am in favor to impose a rule of nationality. To reconnect with the historical foundations and to a "friendly competition between the nations" as described in the deed of gift in its original version. Today, there are too many mercenaries attracted by money. Ernesto Bertarelli (double winner of the Cup with Alinghi, Editor's note) wants to return to the Cup but he also wants a rule of nationality. He says that in Switzerland, there is enough talent to create a team almost 100% Swiss. He's addicted to the Cup. Like Patrizio Bertelli (boss of Prada, Editor's note) who will also come back after slamming the door two years ago because the rules had changed along the way. The principle of nationality would also be an advantage for the French who are able to assemble a completely correct crew. The Cup must also be defended at home. The Americans made a huge mistake when they left San Francisco to go to Bermuda. An island that offered a lot of money to host the event but where, in the end, there were not many people. An enthusiastic entrepreneur able to put 10 million euros from his pocket to finance a challenge, it does not exist in France.
Groupama Team France was the first eliminated this year. Why do the French never shine in this competition? Apart from Baron Bich who has participated four times in the Cup, there is no continuity in the French projects and in the partnership. We have often said "next time you will see what you are going to see", but in each edition you have to start from scratch. Look at Emirates or Oracle, they've been here for a long time. There is no mystery. An enthusiastic entrepreneur like Matteo de Nora, able to put 10 or 12 million euros out of his pocket to finance the New Zealanders, does not exist in France. It is not in our culture. A boss of the CAC 40 has no power to put millions in the America's Cup. The companies are run by boards for which buying TV spots or advertising is a less risky investment. On the sporting side, you have to sail young people on cheaper circuits like the Extreme 40. Then try to shine on the Youth America's Cup to convince sponsors. This Youth Cup is, in my eyes, the only interesting novelty introduced in recent years.