By Humphrey Carter

“MAJORCA'S got good breeze, the tow out time's short and it's well placed in Europe,” Patrik Carlsson, who competed in this year's America's Cup in New Zealand said yesterday. Carlsson was part of the crew racing the Swedish syndicate Victory Challenge and modestly admits as they did not reach the final race, being knocked out in the quarter finals, he really only competed in the Luis Vuitton. But every competitive yachtsman and woman's dream is to race the America's Cup and Patrik, who has been racing for 15 years, says that he plans to compete in the 2007 competition and would certainly love to be racing in Palma. “But that's up to me and I'll have to start chasing a place with a crew after my summer break,” he said.
Majorca is now his base and he is backing Palma's bid for the America's Cup, he said that there is always a good breeze at 1pm, but he is keen to know exactly where the America's Cup village will be built. “A good Cup village will be very important to the bid,” he said.
Each syndicate will include anything from 60 to 100 people, two crews of 16, yacht designers, weather experts, tacticians, craftsmen etc and they will all need comfortable and functional accommodation for a good two years prior to the qualifying rounds beginning. What he also made clear is that each syndicate, will need serious amounts of space on the docks, he estimates around 600 to 800 square metres for each team's two yachts and at least one travel lift per team as the yachts come out of the water every day. “But the syndicates take care of the costs of all this and although the teams are very self contained, there is a constant need for extra parts and accessories.

This means that the syndicates will have to be well served by local chandlers and the nautical industry in general.” He spent the best part of 18 months in New Zealand and reaching the quarter finals of the Luis Vuitton qualifiers involved four months of back to back racing. “We did not have a weather team, so we went out in all conditions, the other syndicates remained in port and just watched us as we headed out day after day, put her up and sailed, we suffered a lot of damages, but we were a pretty young team and had a lot of learning to do... and fast,” he said. The race conditions were good in New Zealand, “good wind and waves,” but Patrik said that the sponsors were not that happy with the location. “The New Zealand government was really angry it lost the chance to host the Cup again, the event generates serious amounts of money but for the sponsors, getting all the guests and the super yachts for corporate events down there was complicated and expensive, the sponsors will love somewhere like Palma.” What people perhaps do not realise is that the America's Cup is not just a long weekend, serious yacht racing fans and corporate clients will be spending two weeks at the Cup destination to watch the final legs while during the qualifying months there will be a steady flow of visitors and fans to the island. So, there is a lot of preparation needed in order to host the America's Cup and while Palma will have to start building the Cup village and setting aside substantial space on the quay for the syndicates to house their yachts and equipment, the syndicates themselves will start their preparation. While Patrik said that a number of syndicate bosses will have already visited Palma “I'll bet there are some here now,” and the other four competing destinations to study the weather and race conditions, once a final decision has been made and announced, sometime in December, then yacht designers will set to work. The yachts will be specifically designed depending on the race conditions and crews gathered together during the first year of preparation.
Once all that has come together, then team preparations for the competition step up a gear with the aim being to get the yachts and the crews out onto the water training and testing as quickly as possible. Patrik said that the Swiss syndicate Alinghi's America's Cup victory came as no surprise to most people. “They had a magic yacht and an excellent crew with a support syndicate of around 100 people, they left nothing to chance and cut no corners, they even had a travel lift for each of the yachts.” The syndicates can not change their yachts once the competition begins, but they are allowed two models and Patrick admitted that ever since the Australia II victory and all the fuss about keeping their boat design and hull secret, the games of cat-and-mouse between the yacht compounds continues. “It's a bit of a pain, we all need to have skirts around our yachts when they're out of the water, it's all about giving the impression that you're hiding something and keeping everyone guessing,” Patrik said, but the real proof is out on the water, that's where the America's Cup is won and despite years of prepartion, the crews are in the hands of the elements and very often have to adapt the best they can.