A first look at things to come for America's Cup 2021 - albeit with some social distancing by Team New Zealand and American Magic.
Two AC75s were on the Waitemata Harbour yesterday as Team New Zealand's Te Aihe and Defiant of American Magic were put through their paces as both teams continued testing. The two teams remained at some distance from each other.
"A pretty epic day today. The first time there's been two AC75s out on the Waitemata. American Magic has been here a little while now but to have our boat out at the same time as them is a pretty cool day," Team New Zealand's Peter Burling said.
"Pretty cool to see two boats out there duking it out - where the Cup will be in a few months' time.
"There will some pretty exciting times over the next few months seeing what steps each design team has taken when they launch their boat twos and put on new foils," Burling said.
Glenn Ashby added seeing their rivals on the water got the "competitive juices flowing".
"You get excited about what's to come. A bit of distance away from us but just to see it out there foiling around, definitely makes you put in a bit more effort in every snap or tack and gibe you do. Definitely exciting and looking forward to getting a chance to race them at some point," Ashby said.
American Magic first sailed Defiant for nearly seven hours on Waitemata Harbour on July 27. It was the first time the crew sailed the boat since March 3 in Pensacola, Florida.
"We had a great day. It was nice to go sailing," skipper and executive director Terry Hutchinson said at the time. "I've got no complaints. It was really good."
Like pretty much every other sport, the buildup to the 36th America's Cup has been disrupted by the coronavirus. Defending champion Emirates Team New Zealand and the three challengers were set to sail their radical sloops for the first time in two America's Cup World Series preliminary regattas in Italy and England earlier in the year, but they were canceled due to the pandemic.
American Magic had been within days of shipping Defiant to Europe before the regattas were canceled. While it didn't sail the boat again in Florida, the team was able to make improvements to the yacht before shipping it to New Zealand. It arrived late in June.
The crew — including helmsman Kiwi Dean Barker — arrived in stages, and went through mandatory quarantine.
The other two challengers, INEOS Team UK and Italy's Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team, are scheduled to relocate to Auckland later year.
American Magic's second boat, which is under construction in Rhode Island, is scheduled to be flown to Auckland in September.
A final ACWS regatta is scheduled for Auckland just before Christmas. The Prada Cup for challengers is scheduled for Jan. 15-22, with the winner to meet Team New Zealand in the America's Cup match March 6-21.