Testing continued in Auckland for the second week of the America's Cup Regatta Management and Media Trials under cloudy skies, torrential rain and moderate, if gusty winds - including a nearby tornado.
The freak storm struck Auckland's North Shore as the AC45's were returning from the session about 3.30. A man was killed in Albany. The tornado with winds estimated at 220km/hr crossed the Waitemata to the west of the Harbour Bridge, a mile or so away from the ACRM base in Auckland's Viaduct Harbour.
The Race Committee ran fleet races today and for the first time, China Team was a full participant. They may not have been as competitive in the first heats this afternoon as they would hope to be when the racing counts in Cascais in August, but by later in the day they'd found their feet to the point of winning the penultimate contest.
'Give us a month,' joked skipper Mitch Booth on returning to shore. 'We certainly don't expect to be at the head of the fleet this week. For us, it's all about learning. But today wasn't bad for 'right out of the box'.'
A special guest was on board one of the ORACLE Racing boats, sailing with Russell Coutts today. John Bertrand, skipper of Australia II, the first team to break the American grip on the Cup back in 1983, has been in town for several days; this afternoon he had an up close look at the new America's Cup. And he liked what he saw.
'it's like trying to tame a wild stallion,' he said after his turn on the AC45. 'The speed of decision making is three times faster than a normal monohull. The boats are fast, the crew is fully extended and the power of the wing is fantastic. There is no room for non-world-class sailors in this. Everyone has to contribute. It's full on...
'If you speed up a normal yacht race by a factor of three - 300 percent - the decision making, all hell will break loose… In a somewhat controlled manner.'
In addition to the race testing, evaluation of television coverage is taking place as well. Equipment has been fitted to the AC45s, and to dedicated camera boats, in an effort to test how the organisers can capture more and better footage than ever before.
'Some of what we have here is unique, but some of what we're doing has been seen before in sailing coverage,' said Gary Lovejoy, Head of Media Production for the America's Cup. 'What we're trying to test this week is to find out the best blends of all of the ingredients so the result is a tasty recipe in Cascais.'
The ACRM AC45 retired early today after hitting a rock, damaging the catamaran’s starboard daggerboard. The boat is expected to be back on the water before the test sessions conclude.
'The good news is the boats are proving to be very robust,' said Iain Murray, ACRM Regatta Director.
The television testing sessions will continue on Wednesday.