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America’s Cup cheat sheet - two years on, and 20 months to go

by Suzanne McFadden 23 Jun 2019 12:06 PDT 24 June 2019
Kevin Shoebridge, Grant Dalton, Peter Burling, Matteo di Nora and Glenn Ashby - 2017 America's Cup Bermuda © Emirates Team NZ

It’s exactly two years since Emirates Team New Zealand won the America’s Cup in Bermuda, and a lot of water has flowed under Te Wero Bridge, in Auckland’s Viaduct, since then.

Top yachting correspondent Suzanne McFadden looks back at the last 24 months and forward for the next 20 months until the start of the 36th Match for the America's Cup, beginning on March 6, 2021.

A radical foiling monohull has been conceived, and is now coming to life in boatyards around the world. Battles over bases have been lost, and won. Teams have come, teams have gone.

But if you’ve lost touch with the goings-on of the 36th America’s Cup, we've called on the assistance of Team NZ veteran Kevin Shoebridge, to help remedy that; so you can now sound up to speed with your yachting mates at the water cooler. SportsRoom presents The 2021 America’s Cup cheat sheet: two years gone, less than two to go.

The Defender

Team NZ are running like a “well-oiled machine”, says Shoebridge, the team's COO. But that’s what you’d expect from an outfit whose genesis goes back beyond 1995, and who hit the ground running from the moment they came home with the Auld Mug.

Their team now numbers 120 (with a few bodies more to come), and are fully ensconced in their two HQs – their spectacular main base in the Viaduct Events Centre, and the boat building yard in Albany.

Of those, 42 people are in the boatyard, building the first of their two AC75 extreme racing machines (it’s the first time in Team NZ’s history that they’ve built their own boats).

The building process is well on track for the initial boat to be launched in late August, although Shoebridge admits it’s taken slightly longer than Team NZ envisaged.

They now have their mast, made at Southern Spars in Auckland’s west, and are awaiting the delivery from Italy of the massive foil arms (that look like the legs of a Jesus Christ lizard running across water) which support the boat when it’s flying.

The team are at 95 per cent capacity, with the last of the sailing crew to still be named. So far, there’s a core crew of eight (11 sailors will be on board the AC75), with the rest of the grinders – to be named this week – bringing it up to around 14. Yes, grinders are back in; cyclors are out (watch the grinding trials in the video above).

“The core sailing team – the likes of Glenn Ashby, Peter Burling, Blair Tuke and Ray Davies – have been intricately involved in the design process of the boat; you can’t design a boat without your sailors,” Shoebridge says.

While they wait for the boat to touch down on the Waitemata Harbour, the sailors are racing around the world. Burling and Tuke are off this week to a 49er regatta in Germany, preparing to defend their Olympic title in Tokyo next year; Ashby is racing the G32 foiling multihulls world champs in Portugal; Andy Maloney and Josh Junior have just finished a successful European season in their Olympic Finn dinghies.

Unlike the three established challenger teams, Team NZ decided not to build a test boat – a scaled-down foiling monohull – opting to “sail” their boat on a simulator, as they did with major success before Bermuda.

"The simulator side of things has given us some really good insights into what the boat's performances will be. Some of the numbers we are seeing at the moment are quite in excess of the 50-foot catamarans we used last time, both upwind and downwind," Ashby told Stuff.

So the sailing team are itching to finally get back on the Hauraki Gulf.

“It feels like it’s time to get out there again. Time to split off from the infrastructure and the event, and finally focus on the sailing,” Shoebridge says.

They won’t have long to wait now.

For the rest of this story click here

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