As they get settled in Auckland, Team New Zealand's main challenger for the 2021 America's Cup is welcoming the help of a Kiwi sailing great, reports Matt Brown.
He's not involved in the sailing team but Luna Rossa skipper Max Sirena describes Kiwi Brad Butterworth as an "asset" to their America's Cup challenge.
The Italians are starting to become a bigger presence in Auckland with Sirena and around 25 other team members midway through their 14-day quarantine. Their second Cup boat will be flown from Italy next week and most of the team should be based in Auckland by October 10.
Butterworth has joined the Challenger of Record (COR) - the organiser of the America's Cup World Series Auckland and the Prada Cup Challengers Selection Series - in the role of External and Institutional Relations Officer.
As Challenger of Record, Luna Rossa will use the former Team New Zealand and Alinghi tactician as facilitator between the hosts and local authorities.
Butterworth is understood to have had a frosty relationship with Emirates Team New Zealand boss Grant Dalton over the years and there have been suggestions the Challenger of Record's decision to appoint Butterworth is stirring the pot.
It's an accusation Sirena rejects.
"That I will leave to Grant and Brad. I don't really care about that.
"We were looking for someone to really help us and facilitate some of the things. We haven't been able to achieve everything we want. We had some difficulty in some of the relationships between ACE (America's Cup Events) and COR and we need to speed up the process.
"We tried to find other people but I think Brad is a well-known guy and a good sailor and he knows how it works in Auckland and if the relationship between the two is not the best I don't really care, it's not our problem."
Although Butterworth is not directly associated with the sailing side of the Luna Rossa Challenge, Sirena admitted he would pick his brain.
"He's one of the most local guys, experienced and if he has any tips to give us we will listen and he's an asset."
Andrew Campbell, the flight controller on American Magic, agrees that Butterworth will be a beneficial addition for their rivals.
"Butterworth will be an asset to Luna Rossa. You have to respect somebody with that much experience, and have to know he has a lot of tricks up his sleeves and will improve their operation. He's the kind of guy you would like to have on your team."
Sirena will head to the team's Viaduct base early next week, when he is released from quarantine. The Luna Rossa skipper, his wife, 12-year-old son and six-year-old daughter are midway through their 14-day quarantine at the Sudima Auckland Airport Hotel, and he says it's an experience that has been beneficial for the family.
"A lot of people working with me told me 'you need to take a few days off because you look tired', and I can tell you after three days in quarantine I was already refreshed and looking forward to getting out.
"The positive side for me with my family is most of the time during the Cup you don't have much time to spend with your family and talk to your wife. It's fun spending 24 hours [a day] with them. In reality we are lucky we are out of the city so we can get out in the car park every day, which is a big boost for me, so I can train a bit and especially for the kids so they can play around – it is making this period less painful."
Sirena plans to go out on the team's chase boats to watch Team New Zealand and American Magic training on the water before the new Luna Rossa boat arrives on an Antonov cargo plane, with Sirena expecting to have the boat at its base by October 5.
He is confident Luna Rossa will have their new Cup boat in the water between October 17 and October 20.