American Magic yesterday unveiled their second AC75, Patriot, which is set to race in December in Auckland's Christmas Cup regatta. Dean Barker caught up with Matt Brown to discuss his boat's chances - and the stark realities that await.
American Magic helmsman Dean Barker has delivered a stark warning that America's Cup challenges could effectively be over by Christmas.
The December 17-20 Christmas Cup regatta is the first time the syndicates will line up against each other in the new foiling monohull class of boats.
Covid-19 scuppered plans for World Series regattas in Cagliari in April and Portsmouth in June meaning this America's Cup, perhaps more than any other, will be won by the designers.
The sheer nature of these speed machines that will eclipse 50 knots on short tight courses on the Waitemata Harbour and Hauraki Gulf means any boat slightly off the pace prior to Christmas will have their work cut out to be competitive in the Prada Cup challenger series which starts on January 15.
"It's actually pretty frightening to think that in December you are really going to know whether you are in with a chance. If you are not fast enough then it's really hard to believe you are going to turn around enough in the time you have to believe you are fast enough to win," Barker said following the launch of the New York Yacht club's second AC75, Patriot.
The former Team New Zealand skipper was optimistic they have made large gains which they didn't have with their first boat Defiant.
"We've had more time to develop this boat and knew there were areas to improve and we have tried to exploit those areas more and we really hope we have done enough to put us in good stead and have a boat that is fast enough to win."
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Barker was adamant there won't be time to make radical changes to the boats if one has a decisive speed edge.
"For example, you are only allowed to build three sets of foils and each set takes about three months to build. So it's not like you can have those sitting there waiting to be installed and hoping they are going to be better. You need to be able to put your best foot forward early on otherwise you could go home early.
"Yes, there will be incremental gains and improvements but the scope to make some massive steps after December is going to be very hard to do."
With American Magic's second boat launched, Team INEOS UK unveiling their second boat this morning and Luna Rossa scheduled to launch their second boat on Tuesday, attention will soon turn to when defender Team New Zealand will unveil their boat for the Cup defence.
There has been speculation it may not be launched until next month and Barker believes they have a big dilemma over whether to test their new boat against the challengers in the Christmas Cup or race their first AC75, Te Aihe.
"I am sure they sit there with the dilemma maybe they don't want to race boat two, avoid too much unnecessary risk where they damage the boat, but at the same time they probably want to check in with the challengers to see where they sit because that's the only time they will line up with another boat before they go racing in March, so it will be an interesting conversation they will be having."