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J.P.Morgan BAR crewmember Simon Daubney has competed in eight America’s Cups and won four, little surprise that he is considered as one of the most experienced sailors on the America’s Cup World Series circuit. His impressive background makes him perfectly placed to comment on the Cup and how big a task the next Cup cycle will be.

The current America’s Cup cycle is one of the biggest changes that the event has seen and it is also one of the most exciting. I’ve been fortunate to have a career that has seen the Cup go through a range of designs, having started with the 12 metres in 1987, something that our youngest crewman Kyle Langford finds really amusing – he wasn’t even born then!

But I can honestly say that these new boats provide some of the most exciting sailing that I have ever had and I’m not exaggerating when I say that we all walk down the pontoon with a spring in our step every day we sail, whatever your age. The AC45s are fast, physically demanding and immensely rewarding to sail. I would be prepared to bet that there isn’t a competitor here in Naples who would rather be sailing a monohull.

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Exciting though the sailing is and as radical as the boats are, the new cycle of this particular America’s Cup represents much more than just a big step in technology. There is a complete culture change taking place in the Cup where we are seeing a new wave of talented young sailors sweep in, many of them from Olympic sailing. Ben’s reputation in the Olympics needs no explaining but it is no coincidence that sailors of his calibre are now commonplace in Cup teams. Their sailing talent raises the bar, but they also bring a new level of professionalism with them in the way that they train and develop their campaigns. And they learn quickly too.

While I may have sailed the AC45s more than Ben, I’m also fully aware that you only tell him something once and he’s onto it. He’s almost offended if I tell him again. His mind’s like a steel trap and he’s also a real fighter as we’ve seen both in the Olympics and even yesterday when we came back from behind in two occassions. Give him a couple of days in any boat and you’d be a fool not to bet on him.

But of course one man doesn’t make a team and in my experience it is the spirit among the crew that counts for more than many people think. Sure, I’ve been lucky in that I’ve spent much of my career working with the same group of people. You have to develop good relationships in order to move forward and take the knocks with the wins.

The 72ft cats for the next Cup put even greater demands on their crew. These boats are so fast that it is impossible to communicate much of the time without intercoms and they can be very stressful to sail where you spend much of your time on the edge, just seconds away from a potential disaster. In this situation it is crucial that you have a team that works closely and trusts each other completely. With the long term goal for J.P.Morgan BAR being a full blown America’s Cup campaign, the lessons learned here in AC45 racing at the AC World Series is a crucial part of that development.

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