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Start of New Zealand's 35yr America's Cup dynasty on this day - Oct 5, 1986

by Sail-World/ 5 Oct 04:54 PDT 6 October 2021
KZ-7 Kiwi Magic © NZChallenge

New Zealand's now 35 year America's Cup dynasty began October 5th 1986 on Gage Roads, Fremantle, when KZ-7 faced Heart of America in Race 1 of Round Robin 1 in the 1986/87 Louis Vuitton Cup.

KZ7 won its first start by 2 seconds in an 18 knot south-westerly and was 1 minute 25 seconds ahead at the first mark. The crew of KZ7 went on to sail a flawless first race and won by 6 minutes and 29 seconds, after Heart Of America had issues with a new mainsail.

KZ7’s crew that day had some very familiar New Zealand sailors; Chris Dickson as skipper, Brad Butterworth as tactician, Ed Danby, Simon Daubney, Brian Phillimore, Mike Quilter, Tony Rae, Jeremy Scantlebury, Andrew Taylor, Erle Williams, and Kevin Shoebridge.

Heart of America would later be knocked out of the Louis Vuitton Cup Challenger Series, but KZ7 made it through to the Louis Vuitton Challenger Finals, where it was eliminated by the Dennis Conner skippered Stars and Stripes. By then, it was clear to many observers that the America’s Cup was likely to be soon leaving Australia with the two leading Australian Defenders spending too much time beating each other up in the protest room, rather than focusing on the real business of developing their yachts to become faster.

The then New Zealand Challenge went on to compete in the Big Boat Challenge in the 1988 America's Cup in San Diego, and then returning to compete in the final of the Louis Vuitton Cup in 1992 with NZL-20. The assets of NZC were taken over by Team New Zealand under Peter Blake for the 1995 America's Cup again in San Diego, which New Zealand won for the first time.

Team New Zealand defended successfully in 2000 in Auckland, before losing to Alinghi (Switzerland) in 2003, again in Auckland. The assets of Team New Zealand were taken over by a new entity in 2001, transferring again in 2003 under Grant Dalton. Emirates Airline took the naming rights sponsorship in 2004, which has continued to this day. Emirates Team New Zealand won the Louis Vuitton Cup in 2007 in Valencia being beaten again by Alinghi, 5-2.

The team was excluded from the Deed of Gift Match in 2010, again winning the Louis Vuitton Cup in 2013, in San Francisco but being beaten by Oracle Racing by 11-8wins. In 2017, ETNZ again won the Louis Vuitton Cup and the right to Challenge, beating Oracle Team USA by 8-1wins. In 2021 ETNZ successfully defended in Auckland beating Luna Rossa 7-3 wins.

Over the teams 35 year history, it has won four America's Cups winning in the IACC monohull (1995 and 2000), the AC50 in 2017 and the AC75 in 2021.

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