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America's Cup: Race or not, Cup support team worked through every night

by Suzanne McFadden 18 Mar 17:10 PDT 19 March 2021
Despite no racing Sunday, there was a full work schedule for shore teams - Emirates Team NZ - America's Cup - Day 4 - March 14, 2021, Course A © Richard Gladwell / / nz

First of S-W's "Better Late than Never" series on the America's Cup. Here's Suzanne McFadden's excellent story from Sunday.

With still nothing separating defender and challenger in this America's Cup, Team NZ are working 24 hours to make a breakthrough

Racing or no racing, the lights still burned through the night in Emirates Team New Zealand’s shed.

Even though Te Rehutai, Team NZ’s sleek foiling machine, didn’t get out of the blocks on Sunday – the first day of this America’s Cup regatta abandoned through a lack of wind – there was still work to do for the night shift.

While the Kiwi AC75 sat idle, surrounded by more than 1200 spectator craft on the calm waters in the Rangitoto Channel, it wasn’t time lost. Team experts jumped from the chase boats to the race boat to study the clew of the mainsail and other critical components of the thoroughbred yacht.

Every day, Team NZ’s shore crew wait back at their Auckland waterfront base while the boat is out on the Hauraki Gulf, ready to snap into action when it returns and work on the boat right through till dawn.

Team NZ’s onshore boat captain, Jack Taylor - part of the Team NZ family since he was nine years old - says there’s always a long job list when the foiling monohull slips back into the shed immediately after as it’s craned out of the water, and all of its parts are examined intricately.

“Each department has their own tweaks they do every night – sailmaking, hydraulics, electronics, boat building and rigging,” he says.

“And everyone is constantly trying to push the limits. As long as we get all the work done, then the hours can be put towards focusing on the boat’s performance.”

That’s another area that gets round-the-clock attention – upstairs in the Viaduct Events Centre, Team NZ’s home, the performance analysis team dissect all the data that comes off the boat, to see what went well, what didn’t, and pinpoint any areas where they can eke out more speed.

Especially in this truly unusual see-saw battle, which has the teams tied at 3-3 (1-1 for three days in a row) in the first-to-seven wins match.

So far, Te Rehutai has stood up well to the pressures of six races in three days. There have been no breakages to repair or replace.

Granted, the breeze and the sea state have been on the tame side so far in the match - unlike conditions in Bermuda four years ago, where Team NZ cracked their daggerboards in one race, and spectacularly damaged two wingsails on another day of strong winds and choppy seas on the Great Sound.

For the rest of this story first published on March 15 click here.

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