Champion sailor Annie Gardner told the AYC February meeting that the coming America’s Cup will be the most amazing in the Cup’s long history. Go watch it, she said, because it may not happen again.
Annie ran down the entries, agreeing with most AC watchers that Emirates New Zealand has the inside track to take the Cup in September’s competition in San Francisco Bay. The team is ahead of the other three entries in preparing its boat and is getting more essential practice time in Auckland.
She was the expert TV commentator at the first European AC 45 races and got a ride with the French entry with Loïck Peyron at the helm. She said he had never capsized a mult-hull despite multiple trips around the world in difficult conditions—hadn’t capsized one until he flipped the Energy Team boat in the heavy wind in Plymouth. That’s the sort of challenge these boats present. (Peyron has sailed the Artemis AC72 boat and says, “These are boats that aren’t that wide or that big, but…have a very powerful ‘engine.’ To get an idea of what I mean, it’s a bit like putting a V8 or V12 engine on a go-kart. So it is no easy matter making use of all that power.” And he adds, “Of all the boats I have sailed on, she is the trickiest.”)
You may remember Annie from her role on America³, the women’s America’s Cup contender. She was chosen for the team from 700 applicants and sailed as navigator on the boat. Her qualifications for the team: A Silver Medal in Olympic Boardsailing exhibition in the 1984 games and a host of national and international Hobie cat and boardsailing titles. She’s still an active sailor (and skier; she was on her way to Utah to ski), sailing with her fiance on a NACRA 17 multi-hull.