With Martin Fischer in the 36th match for the America’s Cup ashore, a clever German head will be fighting for the most important trophy in international sailing. The physicist, designer and foil expert, who was born in Celle, works for Patrizio Bertelli's LunRossOradPirelli team. As a gray eminence with an Einstein influence, the 58-year-old, who lives with his wife in New Caledonia in non-Cup times, is one of the co-creators of the current Cup and is also in demand as a proven expert on rules for the Azzurri
Italian hope in New Zealand: "LunRossa" against the backdrop of Auckland
Mr Fischer, the 36th America’s Cup match will begin on March 10 in Auckland, New Zealand. Your LunRossPradPirelli team challenges the New Zealand Cup defenders. We stand the chances of an Italian victory and the return of the silver can to Europe?
I think we definitely have a chance. I would say they are half and half. It is no longer a secret that I see our strengths especially in lighter winds. When there is more wind, I see Team New Zealand in front. On our part, it is a consciously chosen wind range. We have studied hourly wind and weather data for over 30 years and deliberately designed the concept based on the probability distributions. You cannot draw a boat that is superior in all wind speeds. We have positioned ourselves. And we have the impression that the New Zealanders have positioned themselves a little higher.
What defenders and challengers had to say before the 36th America's Cup match: New Zealand's helmsman Peter Burling and "LunRossa" skipper Max Siren answer the most important questions
Like the British who lost the Challenge Round final to your team?
They were clearly slower with little wind. With more wind they were quite competitive. The first two races (Ed.: in the challenger finals for the PradCup) could have turned out differently. We simply sailed better. Our people did it perfectly.
Do sailors still have as much influence on the design of the AC75 designs today as they did in the past?
They have little to do with the design itself. But what is discussed intensively with them are the wind areas. We deal with the statistics, prepare the data, show them and discuss them. A lot of feedback came in the decision-making process for the design of the rudder. Everyone wants it as small as possible because it slows you down. But it has to be big enough to steer the boat properly. Such things are discussed with the sailors. We had oars of different sizes. The feedback from the sailors helps a lot with the decision. The same applies to the foil sizes. You have to try it out.
Martin Fischer at work for the Azzurri
Your team's foils are bigger and more angled than those of the New Zealanders. Is that also related to the shape of the hull or do the foils follow their own philosophy?
The foils have little to do with the shape of the hull. There are other starting points. We still don't quite know who is right. We'll probably know that by the end of the week. There are good reasons for both solutions. In theory, it looks like the angled foil offers more benefits. But it is more difficult to sail and prone to so-called ventilation. In the end, both solutions are quite close to one another. I wouldn't go so far as to say that it is a philosophical question. It also has to do with the sailors and what they prefer.
"LunRossa" in a radically beautiful black and white view
The pride of the Italians from an unusual perspective: "LunRossa" viewed from below
The differences in the surfaces of your foils and those of the New Zealanders are greater …
Yes, there are significant differences between us and the New Zealanders. With larger foils you have a bit of an advantage when there is less wind, as they generate more power per square meter. And you fall faster with smaller foils. Basically you have a small advantage with larger foils in lower winds. And lower speeds still mean 28, 30 knots, higher speeds around 40 knots.
Do you think that Code Zeros will be used in the cup duel?
I think that is rather unlikely. As soon as you fly, they brake. You are just too big. You could help to get on the wings. But their operational radius is too small. Let's say we have a minimum speed of 6.5 knots to take off - I can't say the exact value - then the Code Zero would only make sense for a very short time in an extremely small wind range. Then you already have enough wind. But then you can't roll it up as quickly as you no longer need it. You can't send someone forward to take it away at 30 knots. It is unrealistic.
You have to know: What are the percentages of hydrodynamics and aerodynamics in the development of an AC75 Cup yacht?
I would say 50:50. Aerodynamics are just as important as hydrodynamics. The foils are also extremely important. If you can get your little advantage out, you'll instantly gain half a knot or more of speed.