Team Shosholoza managing director Salvatore SARNO, said it had been a mistake to try and gloss over the huge commissioning problems experienced with South Africa's new yacht Shosholoza RSA 83 at the Valencia Louis Vuitton Acts 4&5 in Spain two months ago.
'We thought we had to show the world that South Africa could be the first to launch a new generation, super high-tech, all carbon Version 5 America's Cup class yacht. But we ran out of time. The yacht was far from ready and we sailed her for just one and half hours before racing. It was crazy. At the last minute we also had to buy a second hand mast from Cup defenders Alinghi [(SUI)] as we found there was something wrong with our new mast. This meant that none of our new sails fitted the Alinghi mast. We also had no onboard hydraulics which are critical on a hi-tech vessel like this for changing the shape of the sails. Sailing without hydraulics on an America's Cup class yacht is like trying to race a Formula One racing car with only one gear,' he said.
'In Valencia we finished last in both the match racing and the fleet racing. We started sail training again immediately after racing and felt confident about trying out our new mast in a non-racing situation. But on the second day out it broke and we lost it at sea.'
SARNO said yacht Shosholoza RSA 83 had been totally overhauled since the end of the Valencia races. The onboard hydraulics were now working. A new main sail had been built and the smaller headsails had been re-cut to fit the Alinghi mast. Other areas of the boat had also been optimized. A second new mast had now been ordered but this would only be delivered at the end of this year.
'We are expecting a better performance from the yacht in Sweden but our experience in Valencia also showed us that our team is still lacking in specific America's Cup experience. We need to be able to compete on equal terms and therefore we are bringing in international experts with America's Cup and match racing experience to help coach us.'
John SWEENEY, a former America's Cup sports director for the BMW Oracle Racing Team (USA) and America True challengers will be in Sweden as sports director to advise on all aspects of racing and sailing performance.
Chris LAW, a four times British Olympic sailor, will remain with the team as match racing coach but also come onboard as starting helmsman as success in the pre-start manoeuvres was critical for winning a race.
Sten MOHR (DEN) also joins the team in Sweden as match racing coach and an expert in tactics.
SARNO is the managing director and driving force behind South Africa's maiden bid for the America's Cup. He is also one of the chief sponsors of the team in his capacity as chairman of Mediterranean Shipping Company, South Africa - the second largest container shipping company in the world. Official Chief Sponsor of the team is T-Systems, an IT multinational which is the business customer brand of Deutsche Telekom.
Team Shosholoza arrived in Malmö on 17 August and will immediately start sail training to prepare for the start of the week long Malmö-Skane Louis Vuitton Act 6 on 25 August. The match racing event will be followed by three days of fleet racing.