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America's Cup: ETNZ give a glimpse of 2024 strategy as seven AC37 crew line up in Sydney

by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World NZ 15 Dec 2021 18:39 PST 16 December 2021
SailGP fleet at the start of a practice fleet race ahead of Australia Sail Grand Prix presented by KPMG. 16 December © Brett Costello/SailGP

The current America's Cup champions, Emirates Team New Zealand are maybe revealing something of their strategy for the 2024 America's Cup, with the deployment of seven crew sailing across two of the SailGP teams.

With no sailing permitted amongst the established Cup teams until September 2022, SailGP offers the best racing for professional crews at this time. ETNZ's sailing crew were not race sharp going into the last America's Cup, and were at three wins apiece with challengers Luna Rossa after six races, despite the Kiwis reckoning their boat was 3kts faster than their competition.

"We have brought in Glenn Ashby to help with the coaching," SailGP Japan's skipper Nathan Outteridge, told the SailGP media conference earlier today.

"Getting Glenn to help us out, was something I have been working on for the whole season. Glenn is in Melbourne and rode his bike up this week to give us a few tips on how we can improve small things."

"It is not a rewrite of the program, as currently we are going quite well."

"But having someone like Glenn here to give us a few tips, and really help the younger members of our team - and give them the confidence to keep improving. If we can come through this event with a good performance that will build our confidence for San Fran."

Outteridge confirmed that he had moved Japanese Olympic representative in the 49er class, Leonard Takahashi-Fry, into the flight controller's position, replacing Francesco Bruni (ITA) - ahead of a nationality tightening nationality requirement ahead of Season 3. A top match racer, Takahashi-Fry is also eligible to sail for NZ under the AC37 Protocol.

Nathan Outteridge was confirmed a month or so ago as a signing for the Emirates Team NZ. Although of Australian nationality, he was in Auckland as a member of the TV commentary team for the last America's Cup and owns a house in the North Shore seaside suburb of Devonport. While Ashby is in as a coach this round, his role could be extended for the final round which carries a winner take all $1million first prize, or for the Season 3 of the Cup. Ashby was also signed for AC37, a couple of months ago, by Emirates Team new Zealand.

There has been no word on the future of AC36 ETNZ helmsman Peter Burling and Flight Controller Blair Tuke. Developments this week with the second F1 team being involved in what will undoubtedly be a high profile America's Cup, make the event very hard for the pair to sit out. Most of the discussions are likely to hinge around fitting their other commitments - training with Emirates Team NZ, SailGP, their conservation trust, Live Oceans, and possibly an Olympic program.

This week several British Olympic sailors announced they would not be competing in Paris 2024 - with the America's Cup being an obvious drawcard for at least two of them Giles Scott and Hannah Mills already part of Ben Ainslie's UK SailGP team. Tokyo2020 Gold medalist Stuart Bithell (UK) in the 49er class, was another to announce his Olympic exit - destination unknown.

It was obvious from a reading of the Protocol, and the announcement of the Swiss challenge, Alinghi Red Bull Racing, that the Burling and Tuke cannot sail for Switzerland, and Alinghi team will be built around Alinghi's World Champion GC32 team.

There are five members of the ETNZ AC36 sailing team aboard Burling and Tuke's NZSailGP team - Burling and Tuke, Finn Gold Cup winners Josh Junior and Andy Maloney, and ETNZ grinder Louis Sinclair.

There are two practice sessions in SailGP Sydney, Thursday and Friday, with the series being sailed on Saturday and Sunday on Sydney harbour.

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