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America's Cup- Change of course for Defender raises new issues

by Richard Gladwell on 19 Jul 2012
Testing conditions are expected in San Francisco Bay for the AC72’s ACEA - Photo Gilles Martin-Raget © http://photo.americascup.com/

Oracle Team USA have announced a change to its proposed winter training plans in New Zealand.

Oracle say they have been working with the management of Northport and the community of Marsden Point on plans for a temporary base in New Zealand’s North Island. Instead, the America’s Cup champion will continue to keep its activities focused in the U.S, the team says in a statement.

The change of plans reflects a recent change in emphasis in the boat testing and development cycle and means that the U.S. rather than New Zealand will be used for the winter program, they explain.

'Successful America’s Cup campaigns are made from constantly reassessing a team’s priorities and evolving your development plans within a finite time frame,' said General Manager Grant Simmer.

Simmer has recently joined The US Defender, having previously been with Team Origin (GBR) and Alinghi for the 2003, 2007 and 2010 America's Cup campaigns. He sailed for his native Australia in the 1983 America's Cup aboard winner, Australia II.

'Extending our summer and fall training session in San Francisco effectively closed the New Zealand window. The management at Northport and community at Marsden Point have been extremely helpful and welcoming. The merits of Marsden Point as a sailing venue have not changed; it is only our priorities that have changed,' added Simmer.

Oracle is currently training and testing with AC45 wingsail catamarans on San Francisco Bay ahead of the America’s Cup World Series events in August and October, as well as preparing for the launch in August of its first AC72.

Emirates Team NZ CEO Grant Dalton commented on the change during a NZ television interview yesterday, saying he believed the change in plan was forced on them because the Defending team are behind schedule.

Originally Oracle were to have launched the first AC72 in San Francisco, and launched the second in New Zealand in February 2013, the two boats were to have worked up off the Northland coast, during the New Zealand summer, before shipping back to US in April. Both US catamarans have had their hull tooling manufactured in Core Builders Composites large facility in Warkworth New Zealand, as well as the wingsails and major hull components and foils. It is expected that this same process will be followed for the second boat, which has its hulls built in the USA under Cup rules, which require the hulls of the boat to be constructed in the country of their Club.

Presumably both boats will now be launched in USA, and will trial out of San Francisco. The Challenger of Record, Artemis Racing, will also be working out of San Francisco and is expected to do some preliminary racing against the Defender.

Emirates Team NZ will be working up out of Auckland until April, and will be sailing against another Challenger, Luna Rossa (ITA) who will also be based in Auckland.

Details of the format of the 2013 Louis Vuitton Cup and America's Cup are expected to be announced after the next closing date for entries, August 1, 2012. Team Korea have paid the $200,000 entry fee, making a group of just four Challengers. A group that size would mean that all competitors will go through the Qualification Round, and the first eliminations would only occur in the Semi-Finals and Finals. Previously the usual 10-12 Challengers have been cut at the end of the Round Robin phase and then Quarter, Semi and Finals of the Louis Vuitton Cup.

The Defenders are not expected to sail in the Louis Vuitton Cup, but will instead sail their own series on the America's Cup course under racing conditions, and will be interleaved with the Louis Vuitton Cup.

Currently the Louis Vuitton Cup is projected to start on July 4, 2013 04 July and finish on September 1 2013. The America's Cup Match will start on September 7, 2013 and has a nominal end date of September 22, 2013.

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