|A luxury villa full of sails on the mast |
Fascination Sailing delivers communications tailwind for AEZ
Every child knows that wheels belong on cars and not on boats. However, a few years ago rim manufacturer AEZ said good-bye to motor sports and chose the RC44 Sailing Cup as a communications platform. The fact that Alexander Riklin, managing director and partner in the parent company ALCAR, enjoys travelling over water by wind explains the passion behind the project, if not the fundamental business decision. Riklin explains: “In our opinion, sailing is much more multifaceted than the supposedly so-obvious racing. Sailing is a quieter, more elegant and yet high-tech oriented and faster sport that suits our target group.”
|With the swift racing yacht AUT44 and their own AEZ RC44 sailing team, the company has shown in the last few years that they want to do more than just soak up the positive image of the speedy series. This year the boat was at the debut regatta, the Oracle RC44 Cup San Diego, and of course once again under sail. The 44-foot long and very lean carbon body of the racing yacht has far more in common with a Formula 1 monocoque in concept and construction than with the hull of a luxurious pleasure boat. |
Whereas the crew of six to nine members must operate on tightly compacted space, the incoming wind can enjoy a square measure of 300 square meters while under full sail. In comparison: That is about twice as much as in a medieval cog, which was twice as long and generally carried many hundreds of tons of freight. “That this power in the AUT44 has to handle only 3,500 kilo displacement makes the boat into a real racer,” says Riklin. “Per ton, the boat has so much cloth in the wind that you could easily lay out a 3 room apartment.”
With a wind strength of just 2 to 3, which according to Beaufort is just a light to gentle breeze, the RC44 racer accelerates to 14 knots (25 km/h). The only problem is: All the other teams have the exact same fast boat, well-heeled sponsors, and extremely professional teams at their disposal. In practice this means that the AUT44 from owner Rene Mangold fights as a David against many Goliaths. With additional training or optimisation of not-yet-established but extremely costly boat details advantages can be drawn out. Alexander Riklin knows this, since he knows a bit about the subject - in 2010 he was the Upper Austrian state champion for dragon boat racing. The crew around Skipper Peter Evans cannot yet guarantee a title, but definitely beat a few opponents – and that means something when some of the best teams in the world sound the attack.
|AEZ wants to use its hard-fought-for expertise and credible image in the sport of sailing to position itself for the RC44 Cup. “We want to establish ourselves and also do something for the up-and-coming sailors”, says Riklin. The AEZ Sailing Team is therefore as of late richer by the addition of some 49ers. Thomas Zajac and Tommy Czajka are two successful young Austrians who fight to qualify for the 2012 London Olympic Games in this boat class.|
|At just 17 years old, the exceptional sailor Lara Vadlau already wears a gold medal around her neck. The Austrian secured this distinction for herself at the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore, which were held for the first time in 2010. With a sailing surface of seven square meters and a silhouette that looks more like windsurfing than a yacht, her boat from Class Byte C II does not compare technically with an RC44 boat. Her success does not carry any less weight, though, because she earned her title all by herself. Recently she got honoured as Best Female Sailor 2010 by the Austrian Sailing Association. “And she is still at the start of her career”, says Riklin. Maybe someday Thomas, Tommy and Lara will sit together in the AUT44.|