Another chapter in the story of the 37th America’s Cup has been completed.
The next time they meet on the water, they will be in the AC75s they have designed to give them the best chance of hoisting the Auld Mug in Barcelona next October.
That won’t be until next August for the final preliminary regatta, which is yet to have specific dates announced but it is scheduled to take place in Barcelona in the week before the Challenger Series begins.
Those boats are currently being built, and while the AC40 racing is finished for the main crews, the vessels will be key to maintaining a high level of sailing over the coming months – particularly for Team New Zealand who are staying in Auckland for the summer where they don’t have their previous version AC75 which they had been training on in Barcelona earlier in the year. The boats will also be used as the race boats for the Women’s and Youth America’s Cups next September.
“We’ll obviously continue our testing and development and in-house racing in the AC40s back in Auckland over the summer coming up and then we’ll be just getting everything ready for the big show next year,” Team New Zealand port helmsman Nathan Outteridge said of what was next for the team.
“The new boat’s in construction; looking forward to launching that next year and just going through the commissioning phase and getting it up to Barcelona and getting into the real thing.”
With the first two preliminary regattas being raced on identical boats that don’t reflect the differences expected in the AC75s, it is hard to gauge just how much you can take away from the results of the first two regattas.
The first, in Vilanova I la Geltru just down the coast from Barcelona, was impacted by poor conditions that saw the opening day’s fleet racing and the match race final called off.
Last week’s regatta in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, was far more successful. There were lighter conditions on the opening day which tested the teams, and challenges continued through the following two days as the breeze and sea state picked up.
For Team New Zealand, it provided the perfect opportunity to find out how well the core group of new edition Outteridge, Peter Burling (starboard helm), Blair Tuke (trimmer) and Andy Maloney (trimmer), operated under a bit of pressure. They managed things the best of the six teams, winning six of the nine races, with Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli performing surprisingly well given their two main helmsmen Jimmy Spithill and Francesco Bruni were not present for the event.
The other syndicates had moments of success mixed in with more significant issues than the Kiwis and Italians, giving them plenty to consider moving forward.
“I think this has been a perfect series for us to do a few events to really work on the racing side of things and how we operate as a team on race days,” Outteridge said.
“Pete and Blair and the rest of the team have been doing that for a long time. It’s new for me, so trying to find my place in the team and work on how we divide the roles has been really beneficial.
“Next year’s going to be the exciting one. I can’t wait to see each team launch their pieces of equipment because ultimately, we know the race is all about the fastest boat and our job will be to pilot those things as fast as we can and try and make some smart decisions around the course.
“It’s a good time to take a pause, focus over the summer on some more development, and get ready for racing next year.”
Christopher Reive joined the Herald sports team in 2017, bringing the same versatility to his coverage as he does to his sports viewing habits.