Team NZ launch new boat in hopes of America’s Cup ‘redemption’

Team NZ - Emirates - Online Shop - Click the pic!
NZ Team Emirates – Online Shop – Click the pic!
Just moments before Team NZ lowered their freshly blessed and christened new development boat into the water for the first time at the Auckland Viaduct base, Grant Dalton declared it their most significant step along the path to “redemption”.

The syndicate boss was referring, of course, to the chance for atonement that very much motivates Team NZ as they work towards the 2017 America’s Cup in Bermuda, and another crack at lifting the Auld Mug off Oracle after coming so agonisingly close in San Francisco in 2013.

It’s been a long time coming, and by their own admission they start a fair way behind all their principal rivals for next year, but finally Team NZ have their own boat on the water and can start the process of refinement that will spit out the 50ft catamaran to race next year’s America’s Cup.

Up until now they’ve been working away on the testing boat bought from sidelined Italian syndicate Lunar Rossa, as well as on the less developed AC45s that they compete in on the world series circuit.

But now they have their own custom-designed 45ft catamaran that for all intents and purposes will be the precursor to the real thing in Bermuda. This first generation of Emirates Team NZ, complete with so many of the specs for next year, will be tested and probed and refined to eventually form what they’re adamant will be the next Cup winner.

Team NZ develops new boat

“We’re in it to win it and we’re trying to do everything we can to be competitive against competition that will probably be way stronger than it’s been the last couple of America’s Cups,” said Team NZ chief operating officer Kevin Shoebridge after a special ceremony at the team base.

The new boat was given a special Maori blessing by dignitaries from Ngati Whatua and then christened in the traditional manner by Lady Margaret Tindall, wife of Team NZ director Sir Stephen Tindall, before being lowered into the water to have its hull wet for the first time.

Dalton told the gathering of team members, officials, sponsors, media and interested onlookers that it was “as complicated a boat” as he’d seen in his time, and one that had more effort put into it than any he had been involved with. An estimated 35,000 man hours had gone into its design and construction.

Added Shoebridge: “This boat really is an accumulation of nearly two years of design work by 25 designers and a lot of work by the shore team to get it ready in time. It’s a major stepping stone to being successful in Bermuda next year.”

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Land Rover BAR up to second in America’s Cup World Series as Artemis Racing win in Chicago

Land Rover BAR - Sir Ben Ainslie (right) and his crew on the podium in Chicago Credit: Lloyd images
Sir Ben Ainslie (right) and his crew on the podium in Chicago Credit: Lloyd images

Land Rover BAR up to second in America’s Cup World Series as Artemis Racing win in Chicag.

After the frustration of seeing light winds once again wreak havoc with an America’s Cup World Series event, forcing the cancellation of Saturday’s entire race programme in Chicago, organisers managed to stage all three ‘Super Sunday’ races yesterday.

Artemis Racing, the Swedish challenger which is led by Britain’s two-time Olympic champion Iain Percy, made the most of winds of 12-15 knots, finishing top of the standings, but it proved to be an excellent regatta, too, for the British entry Land Rover BAR.

Sir Ben Ainslie’s team finished the event in second place after posting a first, a fourth and a second in Sunday’s three races. But just as importantly they saw Emirates Team New Zealand and Oracle Team USA stutter on Lake Michigan in the first ever America’s Cup regatta to take place on freshwater, the Kiwis and the Americans only able to finish fourth and fifth out of the six teams.

Sir Ben Ainslie shows Kate round America’s Cup base

That enabled Land Rover BAR to leapfrog Oracle Team USA and rise to second place in the overall standings, 10 points behind Emirates Team NZ.

Saturday’s cancelled programme had meant that Friday’s ‘substitute race’, in which Land Rover BAR finished fifth, counted.

Land Rover BAR – America’s Cup

But with points counting double on ‘Super Sunday’, Ainslie’s team made an excellent start, leading from start to finish in the first race of the day to win by 54 seconds from the Swedish challenger Artemis Racing.

Despite the absence of tactician Giles Scott, busy winning the Finn dinghy class at the Weymouth World Cup as he prepares to compete at Rio 2016, Land Rover BAR backed that up with a fourth and a second place to finish the regatta with 58 points in total, three less than Artemis.

In the final race they made a brilliant start but then had to fight back from a penalty to snatch second place on the line.

“What can I say, today was brilliant racing, and it’s great to showcase the sport this way, and show how good it can be,” Ainslie said. “The guys onboard did an incredible job, in these conditions it’s all about boat handling and the fitness required. I can’t say enough about the boys and the great job they did today.

“The starts are harder than it looks, we’ve been practising a lot as the starts are critical to this style of racing. We had two crackers, especially the last one which was really important.”
For the Love of Sailing Play! 00:30

The top two finishers from the world series carry points through to the challengers series at next year’s 35th America’s Cup in Bermuda. The winner of that series will earn the right to take on holders Oracle Team USA in the final match.

The America’s Cup World Series requires teams to race in identical foiling 45ft catamarans while they develop test boats back at their respective bases in preparation for next year’s event when they will race in the so-called ‘Cup Class’ of foiling catamaran.

The next World Series regatta is Land Rover BAR’s home event in Portsmouth next month from July 21-24. Ainslie’s team won on home waters in 2015.

“Now we’re getting to the business end of the series, it’s tight between ourselves, Emirates Team New Zealand and Oracle Team USA,” Ainslie said. “So we’re all really excited about the next event in Portsmouth. To perform so well in front of a home crowd last year is what it’s all about for us, so we can’t wait for the event. Last year was just incredible, hopefully we can repeat, looking forward to brilliant conditions for Portsmouth.”