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Sail-World NZ: November 19 - Vendee Globe drama begins..Cup Challengers..News roundup


Sail-World NZ - Nov 19, 2020: Cup Challengers reviewed..Vendee Globe latest..Hot Wood

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Opening stanzas of a minor sky jump - Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli - October - Waitemata Harbour - Auckland - 36th America's Cup - photo © Richard Gladwell /

Dear Recipient Name

Welcome to's New Zealand e-magazine for November 19, 2020

Apologies for being off the air for the past month. We suspended due to the lack of racing, but with the Vendee Globe now well underway that situation has changed.

Notwithstanding the America's Cup teams' apparent love affair with the Arbitration Panel, there has actually been some sailing, and we have taken the opportunity to have a look at the Challengers and bring our rapidly expanding readership the best coverage we can.

Later today Emirates Team New Zealand will reveal and launch their AC75 Version 2, and race boat for the 36th America's Cup Match. Stay tuned to our website for all the latest updates and commentary.

A new feature in Sail-World is our America's Cup Rialto series. Our rationale for the series was to compress all the independent material into once place - so there was a daily record of what has occurred, in addition to the team supplied content.

If you want to stay up to date - keep tracking on the Rialto Series - which is produced most days the AC75's go sailing. It contains the content available at the time of publication and then gets updated with other content (mostly video) as it comes through.

The written commentary is an eyewitness account of the sailing that has taken place, as well as a review of the many study shots and sequences taken each day.

As we have said in a couple of the Rialto stories, the Challengers' Version 2 AC75's are all very similar in performance - and to our eye don't look like they are any quicker than Emirates Team New Zealand's Version 1 AC75, Te Aihe.

Splashdown after a minor sky jump - Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli - October - Waitemata Harbour - Auckland - 36th America's Cup - photo © Richard Gladwell /
Splashdown after a minor sky jump - Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli - October - Waitemata Harbour - Auckland - 36th America's Cup - photo © Richard Gladwell /

However the V1 Kiwi boat was a very refined AC75 - as a result of ETNZ's development program continuing apace using the test boat Te Kahu, while Te Aihe was travelling to Europe and back for five months. After Te Aihe returned, we saw several wing shapes that were trialled in half size on Te Kahu, appear in full size on Te Aihe.

As has been pointed out previously, using the test boat means that ETNZ is not covered by the rules limiting the number of wings and flaps that can be constructed to six wings and 20 flaps for an AC75. Without the test boat, an AC75 only team has two wings (their final racing set) and four others per boat, which can be individually different or may be pairs.

Long story short is that ETNZ has been able to test more wing shapes than would be normally permitted in a single AC75 program, and as a result, one would expect their first AC75 to be well advanced of the others. There would be something seriously wrong if that were not the case.

Te Aihe, Emirates Team New Zealand - October 05, 2020 - Waitemata Harbour - America's Cup 36 - photo © Richard Gladwell /
Te Aihe, Emirates Team New Zealand - October 05, 2020 - Waitemata Harbour - America's Cup 36 - photo © Richard Gladwell /

It is normal for the America's Cup high-performance race boats to improve by 15-20% between launch and the end of the Cup. In 2013, Oracle Racing improved by that amount in just the final week.

The Challengers have a very hard-fought series ahead of then in the form of the Prada Cup, and we should expect that their performance will improve significantly before the start of the America's Cup on March 6, 2021.

Quite how Emirates Team New Zealand get up to that level remains to be seen. Their sailing crew also need to get themselves race sharp - without a Defence series of the calibre of the Prada Cup.

American Magic - Waitemata Harbour - November 17, 2020 - 36th America's Cup - photo © Richard Gladwell /
American Magic - Waitemata Harbour - November 17, 2020 - 36th America's Cup - photo © Richard Gladwell /

Going into the 2017 America's Cup, Peter Burling, Blair Tuke and Josh Junior all had the benefit of sailing in the 2016 Olympics before switching to the America's Cup program, and after a short break post-Rio, transitioned well. The other teams (Artemis Racing excepted) did not have helmsmen that competed in Rio, and the toughest racing occurred in the Challenger Final between the two helmsmen who had been combatants in the 49er class in Rio.

This America's Cup cycle Burling, Tuke, and one of Josh Junior/Andy Maloney would have sailed in the COVID19 postponed 2020 Olympics and could have transitioned into the 2021 America's Cup as happened in 2016.

With the collapse of world sailing events due to COVID19, all America's Cup teams will suffer from the lack of external race experience. Ben Ainslie's INEOS Team UK was on the right track with their entry in the Sail GP circuit, but after scoring an overwhelming win in the first round in Sydney, the rest of the circuit was postponed after the advance of COVID-19.

American Magic - Waitemata Harbour - November 17, 2020 - 36th America's Cup - photo © Richard Gladwell /
American Magic - Waitemata Harbour - November 17, 2020 - 36th America's Cup - photo © Richard Gladwell /

Not a good look

Over the past few weeks, the America's Cup has descended into its usual silly season where the rules experts try to make some points - which while they may be technically correct - create ridiculous outcomes.

We saw that over the America's Cup courses - a situation created by Ports of Auckland looking at its pre-COVID arrivals schedule and writing a letter which suggested restricted access to the five race course areas during the Round Robin and Semi-Finals of the Prada Cup.

For reasons best known to themselves the Port company (100% owned by Auckland Council) along with the Harbourmaster (an employee of a Council controlled organisation) sat on their hands as the issue progressed through the Arbitration Panel, who applied the rules and removed two stadium courses from the America's Cup menu. That outcome saw the Auckland Council Mayor telling the teams to sort out an issue that an Auckland Council company and COO employee had created. Once the post-COVID19 shipping schedule, was reviewed - with all cruise ship arrivals deleted - the matter was quickly resolved.

INEOS Team UK - Waitemata Harbour - November 13 2020 - 36th America's Cup - photo © Richard Gladwell /
INEOS Team UK - Waitemata Harbour - November 13 2020 - 36th America's Cup - photo © Richard Gladwell /

But why did the matter have to go through this exercise in applied stupidity?

The latest media beat-up is over the supposed late payment of an entry fee for an event, that was arguably supposed to be free. Maybe it makes good media headlines but does nothing for the event - which is perceived as fast descending into an exercise in self-flagellation.

This is at a time when the international sports scene is getting back onto its post-COVID feet. With the 36th America's Cup, there was a good chance to raise the profile of the sport to a mainstream audience.

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli - October - Waitemata Harbour - Auckland - 36th America's Cup - photo © Richard Gladwell /
Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli - October - Waitemata Harbour - Auckland - 36th America's Cup - photo © Richard Gladwell /

Over the past week, on Sail-World our story stats show sailing fans are flocking to the Vendee Globe coverage. There the competitors are talking about the challenges of the event, instead of taking pot-shots at each other in the media and raising issues that can only have ridiculous outcomes - and in which everyone knows that sanity will eventually prevail.

As we head into Christmas, it should not be forgotten that there are a lot of Kiwis trying to get back into New Zealand, who can't. The point is not lost on their families that there are a large group of international sailors in Auckland who outwardly seem to be focussed on disrupting what should be an event that shows sailing at its best, not its worst.

Yes, we all know that disruptive behaviour is all part of the America's Cup game - but these are unusual times. The headlines of the past few weeks are not a good look for the sport, the event, the teams, and reflect badly on the individuals involved.

As an editorial decision, I'm not prepared to give these issues and people the media oxygen they seem to crave, and won't be reporting their antics in Sail-World NZ.

Patriot - American Magic - Waitemata Harbour - November 6, 2020 - 36th America's Cup - photo © Richard Gladwell /
Patriot - American Magic - Waitemata Harbour - November 6, 2020 - 36th America's Cup - photo © Richard Gladwell /

For all the latest news from NZ and around the world see the Top 50 stories below.

Between newsletters, you can follow all the racing and developments in major and local events on or by scrolling to the top of the site, select New Zealand, and get all the latest news and updates from the sailing world.

Good sailing!

Richard Gladwell
NZ Editor

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INEOS Team UK - Waitemata Harbour - November 13, 2020 - 36th America's Cup - photo © Richard Gladwell /
INEOS Team UK - Waitemata Harbour - November 13, 2020 - 36th America's Cup - photo © Richard Gladwell /

Please forward your news stories and images directly to Sail-World NZ as text in the email and attach images in the standard way for emails. Our email address is

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Te Aihe, Emirates Team New Zealand - October 05, 2020 - Waitemata Harbour - America's Cup 36 - photo © Richard Gladwell /
Te Aihe, Emirates Team New Zealand - October 05, 2020 - Waitemata Harbour - America's Cup 36 - photo © Richard Gladwell /

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