It was Törnqvist’s first visit to the Artemis Racing base in Alameda and he sailed with the team during a training session on a cool, crisp, sunny afternoon on Sunday. He says he likes what he sees.
“There are a lot of things to be impressed by; the boat itself, the engineering, the crew work, and the methodology,” he said after sailing with the team and taking the helm. “San Francisco Bay will be absolutely fantastic as a race course. It’s so close to shore and even today there was a lot of people out watching. I can imagine it will be spectacular.”
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An accomplished sailor, Törnqvist calls the America’s Cup the ‘ultimate prize’ and says racing for the trophy is a dream he didn’t expect to come true.
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Asked about the new multihulls, he was clear in giving a ringing endorsement: “I think it brings something completely new to sailing. To some extent that’s the spirit of the America’s Cup. It’s always been a bit controversial. It’s always been, perhaps, ahead of its time. (There is a history of) producing boats that have never been seen before, so why not?
“I think it’s really taking a step into the 21st century and bringing something completely new to sailing. For sure it’s going to reach out to the non-sailing audience. It’s not easy to convince those who don’t understand sailing and I think we’re going to give them something they’ve never seen before.”
Törnqvist says the team is back on track after suffering a setback early in the summer when its first wing broke during training, holding up the launch of its first AC72.
“I’m happy with the team’s progress. Obviously there are setbacks, but it’s a matter of how you deal with these. There is a learning curve and this is completely new game with a much higher level of complexity. I think we’ve dealt with our setbacks in the right way. We don’t take things lightly. It costs time. But we are over that now and we feel confident with our program.”
With the turn of the calendar to 2013, Törnqvist noted that the big decisions have been made, the die have been cast, and the pressure shifts from the design team to the sailing team as the first races of the Louis Vuitton Cup approach.
“We’re in the final stretch now,” he acknowledged. “It’s all about time on the water and glueing the team together. The design is done. We’ve made our choices. There is fine-tuning here and there but now it’s about getting the sailing team working to make the best of what we have.”
And no matter what happens over the summer, Törnqvist says he can foresee Artemis Racing living on into the next America’s Cup cycle.
“I think for me, we are thinking long term in building this team,” he said. “It’s been two or three years now and whatever happens, we have a great team and good base to continue. It will be up to the next defender to decide the rules so it’s not entirely in our control whether we participate or not, but yes, we do see it long term.”