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America's Cup: Fascinating brinksmanship over the first week

by Duncan Johnstone/Stuff.co.nz 11 Sep 2019 17:26 PDT 12 September 2019
Emirates Team NZ launch the world's first AC75. The design was notable for the bustle around the centreline of the canoebody of the hull, the chines at the bow, and featured two different wings as is standard practice for testing. © Richard Gladwell

Duncan Johnstone, Senior Sports Writer for major NZ mainstream website stuff.co.nz gives his take on the first week of AC75 launchings and developments leading into the 36th America's Cup

The race within the race for the America's Cup is well and truly under way and the brinkmanship over the first week has been fascinating.

As defenders and the team that dreamed up the radical new boat to be sailed at Auckland 2021, Emirates Team New Zealand new it was vital they be the first team to unveil the AC75.

They duly achieved that late last week when it was brazenly paraded a day ahead of its official launch. The Kiwis got two days of gasps going around the sailing world with the design and technical excellence clearly evident in "Te Aihe" as it has been named.

But the canny New York Yacht Club, the most experienced outfit in the long history of the America's Cup, knew there was a bigger way to make an impact.

Beaten to the punch in terms of showing off the design, they quickly realised the "money shot" was to be the first team to get the 75-foot monster under sail and up on its foils.

They did just that on Wednesday. Getting the boat really wet ahead of having some champagne splashed on its bow was the best way to thumb their nose at their rivals.

They even did it with veteran Kiwi Dean Barker on the wheel.

In a boxing analogy – and this is yachting's heavyweight contest – Team New Zealand took round one and the NYYC's American Magic took round two.

This fight will go the full 12 rounds and we haven't even seen yet what the other two real contenders, Italy's Luna Rossa and INEOS Team UK, will bring to the show. That's Jimmy Spithill and Sir Ben Ainslie, two friends and rivals never shy of the sly.

This really is big boys with big toys and there's no lack of noise.

As always with the Auld Mug, there's gamesmanship and psychology at play.

For the full story, plus links to related stories by Duncan Johnstone click here

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