Team New Zealand have no time to waste with the America’s Cup in Barcelona now less than a year away and the build of their race boat a work in progress.
Having just recently returned from a three-month sailing block in the Spanish city during which they got a glimpse at the possible conditions and sea states they will face for the regatta, Team New Zealand were back on the Hauraki Gulf this week.
The team have a two-week window before setting out for the second preliminary regatta in Jeddah which starts on November 29, and have been quick to jump back into their AC40 in preparation.
The majority of the sailing and shore teams only returned to New Zealand within the last week, with their Barcelona block wrapping up a couple of weeks ago. However, with time of the essence, the Kiwis are staying busy.
Team New Zealand will be the only team from the Southern Hemisphere looking to return home with the Auld Mug in their possession next year, with the challenging syndicates from the UK, Italy, USA, Switzerland and France.
It gives the challengers a distinct advantage when it comes to the time available to finalise their race programme, as Team New Zealand will lose a significant period late in the piece as they have to ship their boat to Spain.
That will see the team lose important time aboard their new AC75 but will try to make the most of things by developing their racing techniques and strategies on their AC40s.
“It is a bit of a disadvantage for us that we’ve got longer shipping times than anyone else; compared to the British or the Italians or the French when it is a very short distance they’ve got to go to get their boat to Barcelona,” Team New Zealand’s head of design Dan Bernasconi told the Herald.
“We lose six weeks – at best – getting our boat from here to Barcelona, but during that time we’ll have the AC40s and our sailors will use that time for developing racing techniques and doing training on the AC40s.”
Bernasconi said the team were planning to launch their new AC75 in Auckland early next year and putting it through its paces before sending it on its way to the race venue.
“We are planning to launch in Auckland. We’re building the boat here, so it makes sense that we launch here to really give it a shakedown because if there are any major issues, it’s much easier for us to deal with that here.
“It doesn’t make sense to be building it here and then putting it on a ship straight away without getting it wet, so we will be launching here and then shipping up to Barcelona.”
The team were on the water for four hours in their first sail back yesterday, with the core crew of Peter Burling, Nathan Outteridge, Blair Tuke, and Andy Maloney testing new configurations on the AC40.
“It’s exciting to be back out here again. It is always nice to be home and sailing on familiar waters. We have had a very intense few months and it isn’t letting up yet. That is what Christmas is for,” Burling said.
“The clock is ticking on a number of fronts. This time next year the 37th America’s Cup will be over and we have to keep pushing our testing to make final decisions on some critical elements of our race boat. Also, we have three weeks until the next preliminary regatta in Jeddah where the racing will be highly competitive. So, there are many balls in the air.”
Christopher Reive joined the Herald sports team in 2017, bringing the same versatility to his coverage as he does to his sports viewing habits.