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America's Cup- AC72 regatta offered to New Zealand for summer of 2013

by Richard Gladwell on 27 Apr 2012
Emirates Team NZ and Luna Rossa wait for racing to start off Takapuna Beach, Auckland © Richard Gladwell www.photosport.co.nz

America's Cup Regatta Director Iain Murray, told Sail-World.com this morning that his organisation had offered to stage an informal series between the three America's Cup teams that would be sailing AC72's in New Zealand, next summer.

'We have offered to go to New Zealand and provide a three day series', he told an international media conference this morning.

'It would be a test session for us and we would use the full electronic controls, which means that race boundaries would be used and we would interface with the full electronics package.'

The latter comment means that the full AC LiveLine racing package would be used which involves the gathering of very precise boat positioning data to assist with umpiring and television coverage of the racing.

The regatta would provide all involved parties with a vital insight into the match racing capability of the AC72, for both teams and officials. Between them the three teams will have five of the new AC72 catamarans sailing in New Zealand in the three months between February and April 2013.

Murray said that there had been no formal response to the offer. The event would be sailed without the requirement for Event Fees for an America's Cup World Series regatta which are said to be in the vicinity of $5million.

The running of an informal regatta would probably be similar to the testing conducted last year in Auckland for the AC45's where America's Cup Regatta Management and their TV teams ran a series of races to test umpiring and television systems.

Staging of a similar regatta in New Zealand would allow the America's Cup organisers to test their systems on the new AC72 class, well ahead of the arrival of the teams in San Francisco in May-June 2013.

For the teams and sailing fans it would be the first chance to see the AC72's in a racing situation.

Emirates team New Zealand will build two AC72's for their challenge, while the Italians will build one boat to a design package purchased from Emirates Team NZ, but built in Italy. The America's Cup Defender, Oracle Racing, will be sailing two AC72's in New Zealand.

Likely venues would be in Auckland, where two of the teams, Luna Rossa (Italy) and Emirates Team New Zealand will be based. The New Zealand team are expected to launch their first AC72, the 72ft wingsailed catamaran to be sailed in the 34th America's Cup, in July. Luna Rossa is expected to follow in September.

Oracle Racing, announced earlier this month that they would be conducting a three month tune up and training camp based at Northport, the main shipping port in Whangarei harbour, 70nm north of Auckland, with the crews being housed in an adjacent marine residential resort of www.marsdencove.co.nz!Marsden_Cove, which has hosted numerous major sailing and boating events.

Currently there are four entries for the 34th America's Cup, which will be sailed in wingsailed catamarans expected to be capable of speeds of 40kts. As well as the three teams in New Zealand, the Challenger of Record, Artemis Racing is based in Valencia, Spain. Entries close for the 34th America's Cup on 1 June. There are three potential teams from the America's Cup World Series who may still enter, being Team Korea, China Team and Energy Racing (France). The latter announced they had a technology partnership with Oracle Racing, but have not yet made payment of the USD200,000 entry fee for the America's Cup Regatta which is seen as a vital tipping point for a potential team, and an indication that they do have funding to mount a credible challenge.

While budgets for full blown teams are out at USD100million, Energy Team said, at the time of their announcement with Oracle Racing that they were thinking of budgets in the region of USD15-$16million mark.

The nearest the New Zealand sailing fans have been to seeing an AC45 regatta, was the single informal racing session conducted between Luna Rossa and Emirates Team NZ, off Westhaven, and the AC test series.



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