American Magic Executive Director Terry Hutchinson has hit back at suggestions his team is lagging behind defender Team New Zealand and Challenger of Record Luna Rossa with the design of their first Cup boats.
Sailing Professor Mark Orams believes it's definitely advantage Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa over American Magic and INEOS Team UK, who are playing catch up after going down a different design path with their first AC 75s.
But Hutchinson believes their first AC75 Defiant has proven its worth, isn't a dud, and can match it with the defender's first boat Te Aihe in certain conditions on the Waitemata Harbour.
"Absolutely no question in my mind," Hutchinson remarked. "But in saying that I can also see conditions in which they cane us. There's not a magic bullet here."
And from where he sits with close to a full team assembled in Auckland, Hutchinson is comfortable where American Magic is at compared to their challenger rivals INEOS Team UK and Luna Rossa, who won't be seen sailing on the Waitemata Harbour for some time.
"I am confident in the people that we have and the design process we have and everything we are doing here to keep ourselves in a good spot for the competition."
The ETNZ and Luna Rossa Challenge design teams have gone with a "skiff" style hull shape while the American Magic team and INEOS Team UK have gone with a larger wedge-shaped hull style. Orams thinks the team's second boats will more closely resemble the narrower Luna Rossa and Team New Zealand designs.
But Hutchinson, who is also the skipper of the New York Yacht Club's entry, is happy with the design path his team went down, especially considering the restraints placed on them.
"It's very interesting when you look at the timelines of all these things and when decisions were made. The first decision was made based on the teams getting in foil arms in February 2019. The failure in the foil arms not being completed and designed properly pushed all the teams into a holding pattern.
"So when we designed Defiant we basically had nine weeks of design time once the rule was set in place. We and INEOS had no part in writing the class rule and I would suspect the guys who wrote the class rule had a bit of a jump start and a little bit of a design evolution before we saw the rule and that's just the nature of the beast. When you sign up for the competition there are certain things that are tilted and that was just one of them, knowing full well that Defiant wasn't the boat we would race in the America's Cup."
Hutchinson is adamant his team has the potential to make bigger gains than their rivals with the development of the second boats.
"Defiant has been awesome and we were off the base the other day in 20-30 knots of breeze and it's an incredible piece of equipment. I feel our opportunity to gain I suspect is much greater (than Team NZ and Luna Rossa) simply because you go through one development phase you improve it and get out things you like and don't like and then develop the next one."
The next one will come in the form of the team's second boat which is nearing completion in the US. It will be flown to New Zealand in the next couple of weeks with a view to be out on the water for the first time in early October. But Hutchinson wouldn't give much away as to whether the hull shape of their second boat would be a lot closer to Team New Zealand's or Luna Rossa's first boats.
"It's a great question but you are going to have to wait another eight weeks to see what we came up with."
However, the veteran America's Cup sailor did admit there would be some design aspects they would take out of the opposition.
"Their boats are very nice and you capture good things out of those boats and good things out of Defiant and you blend them together. There's an evolution that will take place and if our version one is exactly that and you look at the Team NZ and Luna Rossa boats as version two, then what we are all after is version three - so our leapfrog from Defiant to our second boat needs to be the full evolution."