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America's Cup Rialto - July 21: American Magic expected to sail this week

by Richard Gladwell/ 20 Jul 15:21 PDT 21 July 2020
US team is in residence - American Magic - America's Cup Bases - July 21, 2020 © Richard Gladwell /

The word is that American Magic skipper, Terry Hutchinson, expects to be out of quarantine on Wednesday along with his sailing crew, and hope to be sailing Defiant by the end of the week.

That will be a key moment in the 36th America's Cup - the first Challenger to sail on the Waitemata.

Quite what happens between Emirates Team NZ's AC75 and American Magic's will be interesting to see.

Images of INEOS Team UK and Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli sailing on the same patch of water in Caglari, Sardinia, set the world's sailing media tut-tutting.

Under the Protocol, teams are not permitted to sail AC75 class Yachts in a "co-ordinated manner", but that rule does not extend to test boats, and it could well be that Emirates Team New Zealand line up with their test boat against the challenger AC75's and get a gauge on speed and height from that approach.

Of course the Protocol talks about "in a co-ordinated manner" without saying what co-ordinated actually means - and in the absence of a formal definition the English dictionary mean of the term will be applied. Quite what that gets argued as in the rarefied of the Jury or Arbitration Panel Room, is anyone's guess. But it is an argument that few will want to have. Accidental match ups for a few minutes should be OK, but probably of dubious value.

It must be remembered with the AC75's that there are enormous differences in speed from sailing at "race pace" and the more leisurely pace of a foiling return home, and foxing in the AC75 context is very easily achieved.

Testing at dawn

The 36th America's Cup took another twist early this morning as the test boat Te Kahu was wheeled out of the Emirates Team New Zealand shed just after 7.00am, while it was barely daylight, and was rigged with the assistance of external lighting, before being launched still in the semi-darkness at dawn on a mid-winter morning.

She headed out on schedule at around 0830hrs and headed into the Hauraki Gulf, accompanied by two and then three chase boats. American Magic's chase boat left her dock the same time as the Kiwis on the opposite wharf. Luna Rossa came along for the ride, too.

Winds were light today, less than 10kts in what looks to be the lightest day of the week - with Saturday likely to be the next suitable day. Heavy rain was forecast for around mid-day which duly arrived and wouldn't have added to the comfort of the four man test crew.

The ETNZ strategy will be viewed with interest. After a few weeks of testing in Te Aihe, we were expecting to see some of the more exotic wing shapes and configurations tried on the full-time on the AC75. It would seem that the Defender as predicted some weeks ago, would be running a test boat and race boat program in tandem.

What we are expecting to see on the test boat are new wing shapes/configurations - given that with the 12 metre test boat the Kiwis are not constrained by the limitation in the AC75 class rule on numbers of wings and flaps that can be constructed - and can build an unlimited number of permutations - all half size, and more importantly in these days of budget stretch - at half-price.

Today's wing was one of the wing and bulb variety - maybe with a little bigger bulb than some we have seen.

Bases take shape

Behind the Emirates Team New Zealand base on Wynyard Point, the American Magic base is rapidly taking shape. On Saturday, their AC75 Defiant moved in to the first of their two marquee base tents, and the second appears to be close to completion. Alongside INEOS Team UK's two level structure is still under construction with an interior fit-out visible through the not-yet closed in main door.

Today, American Magic have taken another step to permanency with the arrival of a mobile crane which gets the team around the immediate issue of how to launch boats. Emirates Team New Zealand did the same in their early days, before erecting the large yellow coloured permanent gantry which can lift and drop boats into a double size basin.

High Court is a slow court

The temporary High Court Injunction remains in place on the publication of details of leaked and confidential documents, along with secretly recorded discussions of meetings between America's Cup organisers, America's Cup Events and the Ministry of Business Employment and Innovation, along with the Auckland Council and their event arm ATEED. The leaked documents were front page news on the New Zealand Herald, and prime time TV news on July 1, 2 and 3 before Team NZ and ACE put a legal plug in the leak with the temporary injunction obtained via a telephone hearing on the afternoon of Friday, July 3.

After the formal High Court Hearing held on Monday, July 6 - Justice Simon Moore indicated his written decision on whether the temporary injunction would become permanent would be handed down in the following week. Late last week he sent a note to the Parties advising that his decision would be delayed "for reasons I won't traverse".

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