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America's Cup: Course areas announced for the inner Gulf

by America's Cup media/Sail-World.com/nz 31 Aug 2018 05:09 PDT 1 September 2018
AC75 yachts racing on a course in the outer Waitemata Harbour off North Head © Emirates Team New Zealand

The America’s Cup community from around the world gathered in Cowes on Friday, August 31 for the first opportunity to meet the teams entered in the 36th edition and hear about what lies ahead including two milestone announcements made by Emirates Team New Zealand CEO, Grant Dalton.

On behalf of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, Grant Dalton officially named Auckland as the venue for the 36th America’s Cup Match Presented by Prada and that racing will take place between 6th- 21st March 2021. The Defender, Emirates Team New Zealand, will race against the winner of the Prada Cup, the Challenger Selection Series, in a best of 13 (first to seven points), in the America’s Cup Match.

In accordance with the Protocol for the 36th America’s Cup, the race course area for the Prada Cup and America’s Cup Match was also announced. The Racing Area is defined by a varied area outlined across the wider Hauraki Gulf, running south along the North Shore beaches around North Head encompassing the inner Waitemata harbour right up to Auckland’s iconic harbour bridge and downtown CBD, across Auckland’s Eastern suburbs and all the way out the Tamaki Strait between Waiheke Island and Maraetai. The Waitemata Harbour and the Hauraki Gulf are widely regarded as ‘The jewel in Auckland’s crown’ and will offer a plethora of race course options, with a full range of wind directions and conditions.

“There is a reason that Auckland is world renowned as ‘The City of Sails’ and for its sailing conditions,” said Grant Dalton. “We’re very fortunate that the geography of Auckland allows us so many exciting and challenging race course options in close proximity to elevated vantage points for spectators on land.”

“We needed to define a wide racing area to cater for all wind and tide directions and conditions, which we have done across the racing area. But the one overarching objective in identifying the specific Race Courses within the race area was to bring the racing as close as possible to the land based spectators, and we are incredibly lucky to have both North Head and Bastion Point where the public will literally be able to hear the AC75s whistling above the water and see the wind shifts on the water without having to set foot on a boat. In saying this, catering to the huge expected spectator fleet does provide its own challenges, but we have been working closely with the Harbour Master and all related agencies that have fully bought into the objectives and to do everything we can to make this America’s Cup the most inclusive and spectator friendly America’s Cup ever,” stated Dalton.

There has been specific consideration given to the ideal time of day for racing to start. A tentative race time window estimated between 1600-1800 local time in order for a typical March sea breeze to reliably establish itself across the Waitemata Harbour and Hauraki Gulf race courses based on a leg length of between 1.3- 2.2 Nautical Miles (NM).

Along with the proximity to public, consideration has been given to minimising race day cancellations due to too much wind or swell as was seen in the 34th America’s Cup in San Francisco. The course area, directly between Eastern Beach and Waiheke Island provides a sheltered, all wind direction race course and was the training ground of Emirates Team New Zealand for their successful 35th America’s Cup challenge in Bermuda.

The definitive race distance will depend on the wind speed and selected race course each day with an anticipated 35-minute race duration, including pre-start, based on a typical windward leeward configuration with potential for a dramatic final reaching leg to the finish line.

A New Identity

Today’s America’s Cup Overture began with the unveiling of the new visual identity for the 36th America’s Cup created by internationally renowned designer Marc Newson, who was selected by Prada to design the logo and the silhouette of the Cup.

“Our event in Cowes today, marks the first time we’ve had the Challengers and Defender together in preparation for the 36th America’s Cup Presented by Prada. The announcement of the Match dates, unveiling of the new America’s Cup logo and presentation of the new Prada case for the trophy itself are all milestones for us as we work collaboratively with the Defender to deliver all the events leading up to the Match,” said Laurent Esquier, CEO of the Challenger of Record (COR36).

The sterling silver America’s Cup, the oldest trophy in international sport, travelled to Cowes from Auckland specifically for this event and shone on the stage with her new Prada travelling case. Handcrafted by Prada artisans, this trunk will now accompany the Auld Mug on the road to the 36th America’s Cup.

2018 America’s Cup Hall of Fame

Later on Friday evening, the 2018 America’s Cup Hall of Fame induction ceremony and black tie dinner took place at the Royal Yacht Squadron, where it all began 167 years ago. Organised by the Herreshoff Marine Museum and presented by Prada, the evening will recognise the achievements and contributions made to the America’s Cup by John K Marshall, Syd Fischer, Ken McAlpine and Doug Peterson.

To see SailingIllustrated.com's excellent report on the evening click here

S-W NZ comment:

Probably only three of the courses will be visible from the shore - being Courses A, B and C.

The later start time would seem to be geared more to TV audiences than wind. The seabreeze (NE) is often starting to soften after 4.00pm (remembering that Auckland is on daylight Saving Time at that time of the year. Where the 4.00pm start time will be beneficial is in the situation (not that uncommon at that time of year when there are seabreezes on both the west and east coast of Auckland. The usual pattern is for the west coast breeze to prevail and for it to come in quite solidly for three or fours hours around 4.00pm - giving an excellent sailing breeze.

The start date for the Cup is much later than in 2000 and 2003 which started in mid-February - meaning that schools will be back from their holidays and traffic on the North Shore both during the week and weekends with sport is chaotic. That will trigger the need for more ferry services to get people from the America's Cup Village to the visual spectating positions.

If there is a seabreeze (easterly) blowing the course most likely to be used is Course A between Takapuna and Milford - which does not offer spectators the elevation of Takapuna Beach. The course maps do not show the effect that Rangitoto Island has on the courses B, C and D - being and 850ft tall volcanic cone covered in dark scrub and which gets very hot - and acts as a breeze obstruction greater than its visual footprint. The key point is that racing will not be held on the old America's Cup course areas out in the Hauraki Gulf. The proximity close to shore should reduce the number of spectator craft and their disruptive wakes.

Richard Gladwell Sail-World.com/nz

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