CupInfo: Mascalzone Skipper Gavin Brady
Louis Vuitton and Racing for the Next America's Cup


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Talking with Mascalzone Latino's Gavin Brady
Louis Vuitton and Racing for the Next America's Cup

April 4, 2010




Gavin Brady at the helm for Mascalzone, finishing second in the Louis Vuitton Trophy Auckland. 
Photo: 2010 Louis Vuitton Trophy G. Cooke/ML Audi Team
 



Fresh off a second place finish at the Louis Vuitton Trophy in Auckland, Gavin Brady stepped off the plane in Southern California and picked up right where he left off, leading the Congressional Cup standings through the early rounds and battling again into the Final, where he took second place in the top match racing regatta in North America, behind fellow LVT skipper Francesco Bruni.  Brady won in Long Beach in 2006 and 2008 so the Con Cup is obviously is the scene of some good memories -- but its not only memories Brady is chasing in 2010.  The regatta was just an early step in a year full of possibilities.

Building a Team
Brady likes the Con Cup for a number of reasons.  "It's early in the year and no matter where you are in the world," he said, "it's one of the first events of the year and it gets you dialed in.  The yacht club still runs two round robins, so you know you're going to come here and do at least 18 races, and if you can't figure it out in 18 races you don't deserve to be in the semis!"

   
 
 

Yves Carcelle, CEO of LVMH, congratulates Gavin Brady on Mascalzone Latino's finals performance.
 

"But it gives everyone a great chance to come away from this just feeling a lot more dialed in -- at some of these regattas, you do six races and you might be going home and that's what's good about this for us. 

"These boats are probably the most similar to an America's Cup boat, in the way you have to sail them technically.  They're a big heavy boat, one of the biggest boats on the match racing circuit. In an America's Cup boat, in the pre-start, you have to be able to keep them moving and not get slow and these boats are pretty much the same.  In some of these match race regattas, you're in these little 20 footers and you're just roll tacking and roll-gybing all day long and you walk away from them thinking 'well, we learned some skills and all that and did some match racing' but it doesn't help you in America's Cup sailing near as much as this stuff does." 

Not that Brady's Cup skills have gotten rusty.  He drove Mascalzone Latino to a finals match-up with  Emirates Team New Zealand -- a bit of a surprise to some, given Mascalzone's lack of run up to the regatta, weather-induced and otherwise.  The Latin Rascals attempted to practice and race against some of the other teams still maintaining bases in Valencia, but with little result.  The first problem they had to overcome was the same Valencia weather that was such an obstacle in the recent America's Cup match.

"Valencia was interesting.  I didn't feel that from a sailing team side of things we got a lot done on the water, from our skills and our playbook and all that.  We got a bit done, but the weather in Valencia in the winter is just not conducive to sailing.  There were breakdowns on the boats we were sailing against, so we got very limited racing.  And a huge distraction for everyone, with the America's Cup being on at the same time.   

"Then, unfortunately, Team New Zealand didn't hand us an invite to the Omega Match Race.  So I needed to find another way to get ready.  I went down to the Virgin Islands and did some training with Peter Holmberg, and I think that it showed.  There was a match race regatta, and I went down a little early to practice with Peter.  We spent a lot of time just talking, about sailing the America boats, what he thought about dial downs.  He was the right guy to go practice with."  

If others were surprised at Mascalzone Latino's performance in Auckland, Brady was not. 

"I wouldn't say I was surprised -- really, we were shooting for a spot in the semis, and once you get into the semis, anything can happen, and it nearly did.  We got through and beat Artemis and had a really good crack at the Kiwis.  And I think it showed that while we're a new group of guys, we're actually really experienced.  The guys who are on the boat, we're a really good team.   

 
 

Gavin Brady
Photo:2010 Bob Grieser/ outsideimages.co.nz
 Louis Vuitton Trophy Auckland, New Zealand
 

"The other thing we focused on hard was the physical aspect.  We've probably got the biggest team.  America's Cup boats, and whatever happens in the future, the boats are going to get faster.  Those short courses in Auckland are so physical, sailing those big boats --25 tons, and five tons load just on the main sheet alone.  That's one winch that's got five tons on it going upwind, let alone 12 tons on the runner, jib sheet's probably got another six tons.  All those loads, someone's got to pull it all in and out, so we focused on a big team of guys.  I think that's going to be really important in the next America's Cup because if these boats have pedestals and grinders on them they're going to be a handful.  

"It's going to keep ramping up, too.  Gone are the times when teams are just going to crank it on through and have an easy time of it through to the semis.  It's a whole different world out there, now that we're not using our own equipment.  You can't just say, oh, I'll start three boatlengths to leeward of the other guy and we'll just boat speed him.  We've all got the same boats.  So the level of competition's getting better, the coaching's getting better, and the whole game taking a little more professional view of it, the teams are getting a little more well drilled.  It's an interesting time in the game with the dynamics of it.   

"What I think is going to happen is, as the yachts get faster, and when this new breed of boat comes out, whatever it might be, all of a sudden in a good spinnaker set, you'll gain three boatlengths -- whereas on the Version 5 boat, a good spinnaker set gets you 15 or 20 feet.   So I think the technology game is going to be very important, the fast boat is going to be very hard to beat, but I think for the first time in a long time crew work is going to have a huge impact on the outcome of the America's Cup.  And the faster the boats get, the more that will come into play." 

Mascalzone Latino and owner Vincenzo Onorato are the new Challenger of Record, another form of pressure that Onorato made sure did not bleed down to the sailors. 

"He's done a very good job of keeping us out of all the Challenger of Record stuff.  He says, 'you guys go out there, compete well in the Louis Vuitton series, we'll get to Maddalena and see where we are, take stock of the situation.'  I think that's good, because I think it would be really easy for us to start to feel the pressure of being the Challenger of Record when we're actually doing the Louis Vuitton regattas.  There is so much we can get out of them as a team without feeling the burden of people saying, 'hey, you're the Challenger of Record, you should be doing better.'  It's kind of nice that he did it that way, though the downside is we know nothing of what's going on!   

"And I certainly enjoy working for Vincenzo.  He says what he thinks and I quite like that!  If I have a bad day, he'll tell me, but on a good day, he's one of the first ones to come down to the dock and say good job, guys.'  He's one of the good guys in the sport." 
 


Leading Aleph. Photo: 2010 Bob Grieser/outsideimages.co.nz Louis Vuitton Trophy Auckland, New Zealand
 

Building a Boat
As speculation rises about the kind of boat we'll see in the next America's Cup, Brady's newly found background in boat building comes to the fore, and his excitement builds as he talks about all the possibilities now in creating the new America's Cup boat.  Responsible for the creation of the Farr 80 Beau Geste, Brady got a hands-on education in boat design and the lessons seem to have stuck. 

"There was all kinds of talk in Auckland, but it was all dock talk -- none of it's come from Vincenzo, none of it's come from Larry or Russell, so I'm not taking any notice of it.  What I do know is that they'll come up with something very interesting.  But my personal view would be [that] at the end of the day people talk mostly about the size of the boat, but that's not really the key element.  The key element will be the righting moment.   

"The problem you've got is you can put bigger sails on these boats to make them go faster, but at some point you've got to hold them up the right way.  And there's only a few ways you can do it.  You can either go down, and make the keel real deep, and then you can't fit anywhere and you can't race them in the harbors because they're too deep.  Or you can put a big bulb on them, a heap of lead, but that's what you've got now and it's time to move on from that.  Or you can cant them, and if you go canting, you can keep the draft up, moderate-sized bulb, and you can tip it out the side.  Or you can go wide, but then you don't fit, so logistically, it's a real pain.

"Because, for example, Beau Geste can't fit on the road in America, and America is a pretty big country.  But no matter which way we put Beau Geste on a truck, even if you put her on her side, she's outside the box limit of what's allowed on the road in America.  So you think, oh, for these big America's Cup teams, that's not a problem -- but wait 'til you get to Europe.  And you've got to get your boat from the base to the ship, all the little things people don't think about that can be a problem. 

   
 
 

Photo: 2010 Louis Vuitton Trophy G. Cooke/ML Audi Team
 

"The draft on an America's Cup boat is 4.8 meters, and once you get deeper than 4.8 meters, it's a real problem.  We got around that with Beau Geste because we lift the keel up -- we're six meters deep, but with the keel up, we're the same draft as an America's Cup boat.  And we're a 90' boat and do nearly 12 knots upwind.  So we're two knots faster than an America's Cup boat upwind and about eight knots faster downwind.  So that gives you an idea, that's what they want for the future.  I think Beau Geste might be a classic example of what they're probably thinking.  We could have put a big chunk of lead on it, but then we wouldn't be going these speeds.  We could have canted it, but we're going offshore and just didn't want that headache and we wanted to race other normal boats. 

"But if they go to a boat that's six-and-a-half meters wide, and Beau Geste is 6.2 meters wide, they won't fit.  You'd have to extend all the Travelifts everywhere you go, have special marinas and such.  If we went to the Viaduct in Auckland or to Valencia, Beau Geste wouldn't fit in the travel pens, so you can't take her out of the water.  So it's a really interesting problem and that's the most fascinating thing that I'm waiting for them to come out with: the concept. 

"Even the boat they came out with last year -- you can't just scale up a TP52 because there are some real logistical problems, unless you just say, ah, to hell with it, we'll just deal with the wide bottom, we'll just deal with the deep draft and we're just going to have to deal with it.  That's one way of dealing with it! 

"So I think it what's going on behind closed doors is really interesting, because people put a good sail plan and a really cool boat on a piece of paper, but it's actually what's underneath that's the logistical problem.  That's the engine down there, and without that we can't sail these big cool boats around.  I'll be fascinated to see how they deal with that problem." 

Looking Ahead
With the Mascalzone Latino roster set only for the upcoming Louis Vuitton Trophy next month in La Maddalena, Italy, Brady is weighing his options.  He's not ready to close the door on the possibility that Beau Geste's owner, Hong Kong businessman Karl Kwok, might take a step toward the America's Cup game.  It's not a door that's open very wide at this stage -- but the Louis Vuitton event planned for Hong Kong next year could play into that possibility. 

"Karl and I are really focused on the project we're on now.  Beau Geste is a year down the road now and we're only just started to feel comfortable with the boat.  We get on the boat now and we really know how to sail the boat, and it's taken a year to get there.  That's a big enough project in itself.  If we try to do that and something else?  That's pretty ambitious." 

As the 2010 sailing season ramps up, Brady knows his commitments are to the Beau Geste program, to the Moneypenny team, and at least one more Louis Vuitton Trophy with Mascalzone Latino.  Decision time will come later in the year. 

"I was thinking about it the other day: the reality is, we've all been anxiously waiting for three years, wondering what's going to happen.  Everyone's got a bit of a taste in their mouths, from the Louis Vuitton regattas, and we're going to know more in the next month-and-a-half than we have in the last three years.  So I think it's just time to be patient and see what these guys come up with.  We're just going to hold fire and not making any knee-jerk decisions, either on a professional side or a personal side.  Vincenzo will tell us what he's thinking and how he envisions moving forward, we'll see if that's a good fit.  And we'll go from there." 

--Diane Swintal for CupInfo/2010 CupInfo

 


Mascalzone Latino's transom, a perspective familiar to most of the WSTA teams in Auckland.
Photo: 2010 Louis Vuitton Trophy G. Cooke/ML Audi Team
 


Links of Interest:
Mascalzone Latino Audi Team: Official Team Web Site

Louis Vuitton Trophy Web Site: http://www.louisvuittontrophy.com/
 


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