Foils and tour part of deal between ETNZ and Ineos UK

Emirates Team New Zealand has made an agreement with Ineos Team UK about the future of the America’s Cup, according to Live Sail Die, specifically the importance of foiling in the future.

The reported deal would put Ineos Team UK as the challenger of record, responsible for the America’s Cup world series events, and the Prada Cup. The defender is responsible for the America’s Cup match with ETNZ hoping to defend its status (on behalf of Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron).

Live Sail Die reports that, if all goes to plan, the current AC75 class will be kept, with the possibility of selling boats to other challengers. This would allow for further development of the radical new class and make it more economic to mount a challenge.

As part of the agreement, there are plans for some sort of world series tour in the northern hemisphere in the years before the challenger series and America’s Cup. Doing so would make the America’s Cup more commercially viable and also give the teams much greater opportunity to further develop the boats. It would also end any discussion of getting rid of foils as previously mooted.

This agreement, says Live Sail Die, might be where the news speculation comes from which reports that the competition is being ‘shopped around’ to overseas venues.

ETNZ appoints agency to assess commercial opportunity

The speculation appears to have spread from a source telling the New Zealand Herald that he or she understood Italian billionaire and businessman Matteo de Nora – the principal and long-time advocate of Team NZ – had been involved in considering potential venues outside New Zealand for the next event.

Qatar was tipped as one option while other possible locations included elsewhere in the Middle East, parts of Europe, and Singapore and China.

This in turn prompted a statement from ETNZ CEO Grant Dalton.

“As the current defender of the America’s Cup, Emirates Team NZ has engaged an agency to research and assess the wider commercial environment globally and domestically to provide a future overview for the event and the team upon the completion of this 36th edition,” Dalton told the Herald without the report specifying more – whether for an additional world series or the events surrounding the cup.

“Of course, our total focus at this time is on the defence of the 36th America’s Cup against what will ultimately be a formidable opponent. And any level of assumption on what the next level holds is premature given we haven’t won this event yet,” says Dalton.

Middle East seen as a location contender

Sailing pundit Magnus Wheatley recently predicted that the next cup would be in the Middle East.

“With covid still present, and the costs coming under intense scrutiny in government, a decision will be made to put the next venue out to tender and will attract a big money bid from Abu Dhabi backed by Dubai.

“The cup will go to the Middle East in 2025. Money doesn’t talk, it screams.”

(Wheatley has also predicted that ETNZ “will win the cup by a record margin. It will be a blackwash and will be 7-0”.)

Teams keep heads down in run-up to Prada Cup

There is still much to unfold as Ineos goes head to head with Luna Rossa in the Prada Cup final this week.

While Sir Ben Ainslie and the team have made radical leaps forward from the pre-Christmas performance as evidenced by its round robin success, the team hasn’t benefited from any aggressive racing practice.

Justin Mitchell caught this footage of Britannia’s form as she chased down a catamaran (about 6mins) yesterday.

Britannia’s design overhaul included a new rudder, new elevator, new mast, new mainsail, new headsail, aero modifications to the hull, and some system changes. The team’s been working on the foils and sail package to get more out of the boat for this final, especially in light conditions.

This, Stuff says, leaves Ainslie promising more speed on Britannia, though not the quantum leap his team achieved following their December disaster.

“Development has been going well for us. We’ve made changes to the boat in the period we’ve had, we’re hopeful of improving the speed,” says Ainslie.

“We obviously had a massive jump post-Christmas with some fundamental issues which we were able to get on top of.

“We don’t expect to see gains like that, as much as we’d like (to). So there are smaller gains, but we are seeing improvements, and we’ve been pushing the boat.”

Big steps for Ineos Team UK

Ineos Team UK’s wing trimmer Bleddyn Mon has become a key figure in Britannia’s design and performance gains.

“The advantage of the sail programme as opposed to the foils, is you can turn the sails around much quicker than you can your foils and you’re not limited as much,” Mon told Stuff.

“So you have a lot more cards to play within the sails. You keep pushing that along right up to the end.

“That’s where we made some big steps between Christmas and the Prada Cup, and hopefully more refinement for that to come over in that area as well over the next few weeks.”

Luna Rossa’s been tweaking

Outwardly, says Stuff, Luna Rossa made the least changes between the first and second generations of its boats. But it has constantly tweaked its latest boat. Rudders have been tested and and better foils implemented for the Prada Cup semifinal. New sails and changes to the mast have also boosted performance. There have also been subtle changes to the hull, particularly the bow. Luna Rossa is proving increasingly comfortable across the wind range.

The Prada Cup challengers final is a best of 13 race series – the first team to seven wins qualifies for the America’s Cup match in March. Racing starts on February 13 and runs till February 22 . There are seven race days in that period and four reserve days which could push it out to February 22 if wind conditions don’t cooperate.

Watch some of Ineos Team UK’s spare air training.

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