After three days (and a fourth attempt) at racing, Christopher Reive provides five takeaways from the America's Cup World Series and Christmas Cup.
It's not how you start; it's how you finish
If your boat is the fastest of the fleet, it doesn't matter if you start the race poorly, right? You can just make the gap up during the race. That seemed to be the philosophy for Team New Zealand during the week as they were often outplayed in the pre-start, only to go on and win their races by fairly comfortable margins.
While that was all well and good for the practice regatta, it might not be something the Defender can rely upon when the America's Cup match arrives. The challengers all get to compete against one another in the Prada Cup, while Team New Zealand are now not expected to be in a competitive race until the match in March.
That provides the chasing fleet with plenty of time on the water and in the sheds to make adjustments that will help the speed of their boat and close the gap between themselves and Team New Zealand.
We saw the importance of the pre-start in the World Series, and that will only be amplified moving forward.
Does the New York Yacht Club's American Magic enter the Prada Cup as the favourite to emerge to challenge for the America's Cup? It seems that way.
With Dean Barker at the helm, the American entry made waves before racing even started when they beat Team New Zealand in a practice scenario. Those waves became wider reaching when they beat Team New Zealand on the first day of the World Series.
American Magic and Luna Rossa sailed some terrific races, against each other and against Team New Zealand, and seem level – or near enough to it – as the teams head back into the sheds.
The Challengers' Series could well be decided by whichever syndicate uses their time more wisely during the Christmas and New Year's period. That's something to be excited about.
Not to flog a dead horse, but Ineos Team UK have some serious ground to make up. Unless they're trying to pull off one of the greatest examples of foxing you'll ever see, the Brits are in a spot of bother.
The opening day of the World Series provided what appeared to be the best conditions for the British boat, which was put out of action due to an issue with the foil cant system. The system has caused issues for all challengers, and Team UK skipper Sir Ben Ainslie suggested it would continue to do so unless Team New Zealand, who designed the system, were willing to cooperate more when it came to troubleshooting. Team New Zealand responded to the comments with the press release form of the shrug emoji.
In any case, the Brits struggled to perform in light winds, which was expected as they had made it very clear their vessel has work to do at the low end of the wind scale. With just under a month until the Prada Cup Challengers' Series, the British team are going to be spending a lot of time trying to better their weapon in a bid to make all this work with it in the end.
Who doesn't love a day on the water?
As Team New Zealand get ready to work away to make improvements to the vessel, the other three syndicates will get the benefit of racing in the coming weeks.
Granted, every one of the challengers admitted they have some ground to make up if they want to beat the Kiwis, but the World Series also showed just how much of an improvement can be made by having the benefit of racing.
Luna Rossa, for example, were beaten by more than three minutes by Team New Zealand on the opening day. But the final race of the Series, the pushed the Defender to the very end – losing by just 12 seconds.
With Team New Zealand not getting those extra weeks of racing, while they can carry out their individual practice, they don't get the benefit of that competitive element. It could make a difference in the long run.
What if everyone exhaled at the same time?
Luna Rossa team director Max Sirena believes the lowest end of the wind limit for racing – 6.5knots - is just fine and racing can be had in those conditions.
He's right, but that limit doesn't allow much room for decline.
As we saw in the ill-fated Christmas Cup, the vessels can foil at the lowest end of the wind range, but any lower and they have no chance. Fans of traditional sailing might be excited by the potential of seeing displacement races, but for the average punter who has seen all the advertising and news around these boats as high-pace, high-action, it's not the most appealing thing.
Bumping the lowest end of the wind limit up a bit would allow for that chance of a decline. Don't expect it to happen, but it's something the challengers should consider pushing for – particularly American Magic and Ineos Team UK, as the wind limits were set by Team New Zealand and the Challenger of Record, Luna Rossa.
Enjoy smooth sailing to the Cup with Auckland Transport
• Avoid traffic congestion and parking niggles and download the AT Mobile app to plot your bus, train or ferry ride to race venues before you leave home.
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• For more ways to enjoy race day, visit at.govt.nz/americascup