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America's Cup: Emirates Team NZ resume on the water testing after 5 weeks in Lockdown

by Richard Gladwell Sail-World NZ 29 Apr 15:51 PDT 30 April 2020
Te Kaahu under towing trials on the Waitemata Harbour - April 30, 2020 © Richard Gladwell /

Emirates Team New Zealand resumed their on the water development and testing program this morning after being forced off the water on March 23rd by the Alert Level 4 COVID-19 lockdown.

After dropping their test boat Te Kahu into the water at 8.00 am, the 12metre foiling monohull was put through a tow-test to check some new modifications that have been ready for testing since the day prior to the national lock down.

On the basis that test was satisfactory, the team was expected to sail-test the new design feature later in the day.

The government ordered lockdown has cost the team almost six weeks of their vital development time, which is unlikely to be recovered by rearranged scheduling.

Grant Dalton told Sail-World by phone: “Emirates Team New Zealand is a commercial enterprise in terms of COVID19 Alert Level 3 and its test boat is an extension of that business activity. We have been in communications with all appropriate parties and received a letter from MBIE that did not disagree with this position. Co-incidentally NZ Marine Industries Association announced today, that they had negotiated some easing of the Alert 3 rules to allow sea-trialling and movement of vessels.

Late last week Emirates Team New Zealand announced that it was using personal social distancing devices developed by Dunedin's Igtimi who are also responsible for developing the GPS based positioning hardware and software for use in the regatta and vessel management for the 36th America's Cup regattas. All crew used the devices today, and instead of design crew being packed into two chase boats, four were on the water to allow greater personal separation.

The loss of valuable testing time on Te Kahu, was compounded by the four months wasted after their AC75 Te Aihe shipped from Auckland to Europe to compete in two America's Cup World Series regattas, in Cagliari and Portsmouth. Both regattas were cancelled in mid-March. That decision came a couple of days too late for the America's Cup champions who'd been forced to tranship in Singapore and send the AC75 to Italy.

Late last week, Italian challenger Luna Rossa sailed several days, off their base in Cagliari, Sardina after fitting electric engines to their AC75, and replacing six crew to achieve Italian social distancing requirements for COVID-19.

Construction of the New Zealand team's second AC75 and likely race boat in their North Shore construction facility, resumed on Tuesday as permitted by the reduction in Alert Level and additional safety procedures required to work while under Level 3 restrictions. They are working around the clock to make up the 9000 man hours of build time lost during the Level 4 lock down.

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