Americas Cup competitors working up to race mode – in secret
In the next two months, the defender Emirates Team New Zealand, and challengers Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli, New York Yacht Club American Magic, and INEOS Team UK will all be launching their race boats and working them up to race mode before lining up for the first time in the PRADA ACWS Auckland and the PRADA Christmas Race starting on December 17th.
NYYC American Magic was the first challenger to settle in New Zealand. The team has been training consistently in Auckland on Defiant – its first AC75 – since late June and flew its second AC75, Patriot, on the 9th of September from Providence (USA).
Patriot was the first second generation AC75 to see the light of day, in front of competitors. Americas Cup organisers say NYYC American Magic is likely to be first boat to sail on the Hauraki Gulf.
“One thing that’s been great about our time in Auckland is the added intensity that comes with having the defender just across the basin,” says Terry Hutchinson, skipper and executive director of NYYC American Magic. “They are the holders of the cup, and they co-created the class rule, so they set the standard. Operating in close proximity has given us a few good insights and upped our focus level day-to-day compared to operating alone in North America. I think the two other challengers will experience a similar dynamic.”
INEOS’ RB2 (codename for boat 2) arrived on October 1st. Flown onboard an Antonov cargo plane, the AC75 is now at the Brits’ new base on the Auckland’s Viaduct and will require minimal remaining fit out, allowing the team to get it out on the water quickly. As confirmed by skipper Ben Ainslie, teamwork has been of the essence in order to keep up with the schedule.
“As a challenger you’re always playing catch up on the race boat design from the defender who gets to define the rules. That’s the game we chose to compete in, so we had to give ourselves maximum design and build time in the UK, which meant the Antonov was the only transport option. It’s testament to the huge effort by the whole team to get RB2 built and delivered to New Zealand on schedule. We can’t wait to get her out sailing.”
Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli is the final team to set up in Auckland. Although most of the Italian team is already in town, its second race boat left the boatyard in Northern Italy at the end of September and landed in Auckland, New Zealand on the 5th of October and was transferred under the cover of darkness with the aim of being launched later in the month.
“We have finally been released from quarantine, definitely a new experience,” says Max Sirena, skipper and team director. “It feels good to be back to Auckland which is a bit of a second home to me and my family after years with Luna Rossa and Emirates Team New Zealand in the last Cup. We can’t wait to be out on the water in the Hauraki Gulf.”
No clue has been given by the defender Emirates Team New Zealand on when it’ll launch its second AC75, but the team is taking every opportunity to keep pushing the testing programme on Te Aihe. “The days are really counting down fast now, and every hour we can get on the water just helps us learn more and more,” says Glenn Ashby.
“And we are basically stepping into what is the most exciting time of the whole campaign as we start to see each of the teams’ second AC75s which will be their race boats. While there is still a lot of time for development, a big chunk of the AC36 puzzle is about to be put in place.”
Every team has refused to get into specifics about their racing boat.
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