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America's Cup: ETNZ updates on ACWS Cagliari, Brits depart? Italians break sprit

by Richard Gladwell/ 12 Mar 2020 21:20 PDT 13 March 2020
INEOS Team UK is now said to be packing out of Cagliari, now that travel restrictions imposed by various Governments could have marooned the team in Italy © Alessandro Spiga

The America's Cup Defender, Emirates Team New Zealand have posted an update on the America's Cup website, in response to the various actions being taken around the world in response to the COVID-19/Caronavirus pandemic.

It is quite obvious that the ACWS Cagliari event cannot go ahead.

The teams are collectively entering discussions on a solution to create an equitable outcome for everyone around the loss and/or availability of sailing time due to the change of circumstance as a result of the global COVID-19/Coronavirus situation.

There will be a formal announcement made in due course.

The America's Cup World Series Cagliari is organised by the Challenger of Record organisation CoR36. Earlier this week they issued a statement noting that the regatta was due to start on April 23, and the lockdown issued by the Italian government was set to end on April 3, almost three weeks before the start of the ACWS.

However, since then various governmental initiatives to contain/control the virus have altered the situation. The difficulty for most teams being the transition from Italy, after April 27, to the second ACWS in Portsmouth in the UK, starting on June 3, and compliance with changing UK government dictates relating to isolation periods the four weeks between the two events.

CoR36, as Organising Authority, make the call on the ACWS Cagliari, subject to Italian Government dictates. The ACWS Portsmouth is organised by Emirates Team New Zealand, and it is their call as to whether that regatta proceeds - again subject to the UK Government dictates.

Team updates:

The situation with the four teams is that American Magic is believed to be still in their winter base at Pensacola, Florida and is prepared to ship to a European/UK destination.

Emirates Team New Zealand shipped their AC75 from NZ, and offloaded Te Aihe from the ship in Singapore. She has shipped to a European/UK destination and is currently on a ship in the Indian Ocean between Sri Lanka and India - destination Cagliari or Portsmouth.

INEOS Team UK is reported to have commenced a pack out from Cagliari, in preparation for a return to the UK or another destination.

"The English team INEOS Team UK returns to England, yesterday a large part of the team returned home on a private flight, a real escape with the fear of the total closure of the airports. Only people who have to dismantle the base and pack the boat remain in Cagliari," writes Cagliari based photographer Alessandro Spiga in his blog.

On Thursday, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli broke a bobstay - cable that attaches to the outer end of the bowsprit. The unsupported sprit tore clean out of the boat, resulting in some spectacular damage, and creating a challenge for their shore team to fix - if the original toolings for the hull are available in Cagliari. Their builder Persico is located in Bergamo, in northern Italy which was one of the regions covered by the initial lockdown ordered by the Italian Government. There has been no announcement from the Italian team as to whether the lockdown in northern Italy has affected the construction of their second AC75.

Luna Rossa had only recently returned to training and test sailing, after losing their rig overboard as a result of a forestay fitting failure. Skipper Max Sirena was quoted in Sardina Post on Monday as saying the team had been able to make moves to mitigate the effects of the lockdowns and other measures. "We moved in time," Sirena said in an autotranslation "even before the decrees. This is why we have no stop or quarantine situations. We are taking all precautionary measures."

"We have just returned [from a training session], today was a wonderful day for training. Of course, we are worried. Not only for the repercussions on the world of sport but also on the economy".

Statements issued by America's Cup World Series Portsmouth organising authority indicate that their organisation is running at full speed, with tickets still available.

Balancing the Log Books

The reference by Emirates Team New Zealand in their statement talking of a "solution to create an equitable outcome for everyone around the loss and/or availability of sailing time" is believed to be a reference that a no-sailing period for the teams will be instituted as though both series had gone ahead as scheduled - and the AC75's been shipped to Auckland - so that no team gets a competitive advantage.

The teams were able to launch their second AC75 a month ago, on February 15, and these second generation boats are in varying stages of completion. The hulls only need to be constructed in the country of origin, and they can be either shipped/flown to NZ for full assembly, or assembled in the country of the challenging club and shipped/flown to New Zealand.

Currently, New Zealand is entering autumn/winter with useful sailing weather starting to run out in June and not picking up until September. The three Challengers may elect to remain in the northern hemisphere for the summer, and then move south later in the year. That plan assumes the global shutdown for the COVID-19/Coronavirus does not get worse, and restrictions on team movement remain as they are now - which is unlikely.

The base construction in Auckland has all been completed, by Wynyard Edge Alliance, and handed over to the teams as of last week. INEOS Team UK is the most advanced with their construction in Auckland with the base framework already erected.

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