The America's Cup gains another key player as the Spanish sign Cayard. Matthew Sheahan reports

 His spell with the Spanish team Desafio Espanol in the run up to the last America’s Cup surely contributed to the home team’s spirited performance in the Louis Vuitton Cup where they reached the semi finals and faced the Kiwis. Now Cayard joins the team once again, but this time from the start of the campaign and as Sports Director. The news provides a serious boost for the Spanish team, yet what is not clear is whether Cayard will be at the wheel when the racing gets serious.

Instead, Cayard’s own press release (see below) points to his role overseeing a campaign that will need to wrap its mind around the new style boats once the details are announced at the end of this month. Whether he takes the wheel or not, here Cayard’s broad experience from the Olympics to the Cup and perhaps more particularly with his Volvo (and Whitbread as was) campaigns, will be a clear advantage for a team that will need to develop a new boat in a short time frame.

But it won’t just be the Spanish who will be pleased at the news. During the last few weeks Alinghi has been under increasing pressure over its plans for the 33rd America’s Cup as BMW Oracle continue to seek fundamental changes in the Protocol in an event that looks no more certain to run to the Cup holder’s proposed schedule than it did three months ago. The announcement that another of the world’s top sailors has joined the fray provides some positive news which will doubtless be seen by the Swiss team as further validation of their plans for the 33rd America’s Cup. Certainly the list of big name players makes for a tantalising prospect in the next event with the likes of Cayard, Butterworth, Coutts and Barker all pitting against each other. While there may be fewer teams competing next time around, with names like this at the top, the competition could be event closer than it was last time around.

Cayard’s press release reads:

Paul Cayard has joined Desafío Español as Sports Director for the 33rd America’s Cup. During the last edition of the Cup, Cayard was the team’s Technical & Sports Advisor overseeing the preparation and set up of ESP97 during the weeks leading up the Louis Vuitton Cup in April 2007.
Cayard (San Francisco, USA 1959) has 24 years of experience in the America’s Cup and will contribute his expertise to the team, in his new position as Sports Director.
Cayard will start to work with the team in the middle of October. This is the seventh time Cayard will be involved in sailing’s premier event since his debut as a sail trimmer on board US-33 in 1983.
In 1992, Cayard won the Louis Vuitton Cup skippering “Il Moro di Venezia” and in 2000 advanced to the finals of the Challenger Selection Series as Skipper of “AmericaOne”. He also finished the 2005-2006 Volvo Ocean Race in the runner up position skippering the “Pirates of the Caribbean”.
Paul Cayard holds seven World Championship titles in different classes, has participated in two Olympic Games and, in 1998, was the first American to win the Whitbread Round the World Race skippering Ef Language.
“This is an opportunity to put my experience to work”, he says. “It is also a chance for me to get back into the Cup game after missing the competition in 2003 and 2007. It will be enjoyable to race for the home team and to try to improve on the fantastic result of 2007”, he adds.
The American sailor starts his relationship with the team at an early stage of the campaign. “I believe that my experience will help in the overall strategy for the team as well as decision making on an operational level. Also, this Cup will have a new design rule so the experience in getting a new class of boat to its maximum potential will be valuable. Further it will be imperative that the sailing team and the technical team have good communication and a good working relationship. I think I can help that process. The Spanish team is a good team that aspires to be great”, remarked Cayard.