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Day 2 of the 36th America’s Cup presented by Prada proved once again that the start is crucial and highlighted just how evenly matched the two teams are in light conditions as the Match goes into day 3 with a deadlock 2-2.

And while that knowledge helps to answer some of the questions that have been doing the rounds, the data does little to predict the outcome of tomorrow’s scheduled races which forecast say will be light again.

But today was all about getting your nose in front and staying there.

Race 3 - Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli beat Emirates Team New Zealand

Start: 1623
Port: ITA
Stbd: NZL
Course: E
Axis: 015
Length: 1.65nm
Current: 0.2 knots @ 154

After the first start was halted when spectators were ushered off the race course, the re-start saw Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli enter the pre-start zone on port tack. Emirates Team New Zealand were quick to get onto their tail.

As they approached the right-hand side of the zone both gybed to set up for the return to the line. Both were early and needed to kill time but neither wanted to drop off their foils. In addition, neither seemed to want to engage.

At the start, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli had gained a slim advantage and set themselves up to windward of Emirates Team New Zealand.

As the boats headed out to the left-hand boundary the Kiwis were the first to tack. The Italians paused, waited for the perfect moment to tack underneath them. It was a perfect lee bow tack that out pressure on the Kiwis. First punch to the Italians.

Eventually, Team New Zealand were forced to tack away. Already the Italians were looking as powerful in the 9-10 knots of breeze as the pre-event chatter had suggested.

Although both boats were sailing at around 20-22 knots upwind, the real difference between the two was that Luna Rossa seemed to be able to tack more quickly and smoothly too, gaining with each manoeuvre.

By Gate 1 Luna Rossa were ahead by 10sec as they rounded the right-hand mark. Emirates Team New Zealand chose to split and took the left in the hope that they could find different breeze on the downwind leg.

From the air, the breeze seemed to be funnelling down the middle of the course and the Italians were making a good job of identifying the best parts of the course to put themselves in.

By the bottom, they rounded the right-hand mark 13 seconds ahead.

By Gate 3 the Italians had stretched out their lead to 27 seconds as they rounded the left-hand gate.

Once again, the Kiwis split and rounded the right-hand gate. The previous leg suggested that the home team were a shade faster downwind at times, but if this was the case would their extra speed be sufficient to eat into the Italian lead?

By the bottom gate for the second time the Kiwis had indeed pulled back but only by a few seconds rounding 22 seconds behind.

Having chosen the opposite mark to round they were putting the Italians under pressure, forcing them to choose between the route they would prefer and the need to cover. But with a lead they didn’t want to give away, the latter won through as they matched the Kiwis tack for tack upwind.

By the last upwind leg the Italians had stretched out even more distance to round 38 seconds ahead. There was now surely little doubt that the Italian boat was quicker upwind in these conditions.

As they headed down the last leg they were now over 500 m ahead.

Twenty seven minutes and 55 seconds after starting race 3 there was another Italian point on the board as Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli crossed the line to take their second win of the series.

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli crossed the line to take their second win of the seriesLuna Rossa Prada Pirelli cross the line to take their second win of the series

Race 4 - Emirates Team New Zealand beat Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli

Start: 1720
Port: NZL
Stbd: ITA
Course: E
Axis: 013
Length: 1.67nm
Current: 0.2 knots @ 156
Wind 8-9knots
Winner: Emirates Team New Zealand 1:03

For the second race of the day the roles were reversed and it was Emirates Team New Zealand to enter on port.

As the defenders crossed the bows of the challengers, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli gybed to get onto the tail of the Kiwis. As they did so it looked harder to maintain their pace as they sailed through the dirty air of the Kiwis. A hint of struggles to come?

As the clock counted down to the start, the Italians swooped down to go for the hook but at the last minute appeared to decide against it, luffing back up to stay on the windward side of the Kiwis. As they approached the line both teams looked early as they tried to slow down without splashing down.

The result of this and the dive down to get the hook by the Italians meant that while the boats were aligned the same as in the first race with the Italians to windward, this time the pair were much closer. This time the Italians couldn’t live in the windward position and were forced to tack away leaving the Kiwis to continue to the left-hand boundary.

Meanwhile, the breeze had dropped to 8 knots.

As Luna Rossa headed out to the right-hand side of the course and tacked they were on for a head to head when they aimed back at the Kiwis. Team New Zealand tacked underneath them, forcing the Italians back to the right.

The Kiwis seemed happy to stay clear of the Italians as they headed back out towards the left-hand boundary once again, their onboard comms suggesting they had seen more breeze on this side.

When they came back together, this time the Kiwis crossed the Italians to take a slim lead, rounding the left-hand mark of Gate 1 just 9 seconds ahead.

 

The Italians took the opposite mark splitting to the right-hand side of the course.

As the pair crossed for the first time on the downwind leg, both seemed happy to explore opposite sides of the course suggesting that there were few differences to be seen with the breeze.

In the closing moments of leg 2, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli seemed to struggle with their gybe and slowed down significantly for a few moments. They could no longer lay the gate, costing them further distance and time on Emirates Team New Zealand who had passed through the gate cleanly to stretch their lead to 34 seconds. This was a good gain for the Kiwis and a costly manoeuvre for the Italians.

Up leg three, the distance between the two remained exactly the same, what didn’t was the breeze which, having dropped a little further was now becoming less stable and trickier to read.

By gate 4 the Kiwis had confirmed once again how strong they were on the downwind legs and had stretched their lead even further to 48 seconds.

Talk onboard both boats was of the breeze dropping, the gap between them may have grown, but the pressure was rising.

But as the Kiwis were approaching the top gate for the final time they had held their nerve, sailed smoothly and this time had stretched their lead on an upwind leg as they rounded 58 seconds ahead.
A home win looked like it was on the cards.

A few minutes later it was. The scores were level once again.

The Kiwis held their nerve in Race Four

With Auckland now in COVID19 Level 1, the America’s Cup Race Village, which is free to enter can now begin an exciting roll out of village activations. 

 America's Cup Match - Results and StandingAmerica's Cup Match - Results and Standings

America’s Cup Race Village Capacity

America’s Cup Event has capacity limitations due to the ability to be able to evacuate people safely. Crowd capacity limits are applied to 8 zones within the race village – for example, Te Wero Island – and these are expected to be reached. This will require ACE to implement its “full house” plan and to stop entry into areas that have reached capacity. Where space allows, the public will be directed to other zones within the village. On race days we will use our channels to provide updates to the general public on capacity in the race village including TVNZ, GoldAM, AC36 website and social media and VMS display boards.

Crowd capacity limits are applied to 8 zones within the race villageCrowd capacity limits are applied to 8 zones within the race village

The Match will resume tomorrow 13th of March at 4:15 pm NZT weather permitting, with no possible start later than 6:00 pm NZT. Race days in March are Sunday 14, Monday 15 and each day after that until either Emirates Team New Zealand or Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli reach seven wins.

 

Published in America's Cup
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It is impossible to exaggerate the importance and significance of the first race in any America’s Cup as the anticipation and build up that proceeds the first day is beyond anything else in sailing.

Day one of the 36th America’s Cup presented by Prada didn’t disappoint with the Defender Emirates Team New Zealand and the Challenger Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli sitting on a tie after two races. Pretty even performances between the two boats once again confirmed that there is no space for mistakes.

Today’s results clearly show that there is a long way to go in this first to 7 points America’s Cup Match. As 170 years of history taught us, the game is far from over.

Race 1 - Emirates Team New Zealand beat Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli

Race 1
Start: 1615
Port: NZL
Stbd: ITA
Course: E
Axis: 358
Length: 1.85nm
Current: 0.2 knots @ 163
Wind 10-12kts

Winner Emirates Team New Zealand – 0:31

As the clock counted down during the last few minutes before the start of the 36th America’s Cup presented by PRADA the wind speed had settled at 10 to 12kts. One of the pre-start variables was established.

Emirates Team New Zealand entered from the left-hand side on port tack heading into the pre-start zone at 44 knots. As they crossed the bow of Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli with distance to spare, both boats headed deep into the zone. As they moved towards the right-hand corner and gybed to head deeper the pair prepared to lock horns. But as both headed back towards the start line, judging the time on distance for the return was crucial. Both appeared to be early as Emirates Team New Zealand switched to take the windward position as each headed up to slow down. Neither came off their foils but these were precious seconds for both as they tried to kill time. Luna Rossa’s co-helm Jimmy Spithill forced the Kiwis who were to windward up further as he tried to control the line up.

First race winner, Emirates Team New ZealandFirst race winner, Emirates Team New Zealand

But as both crossed the line the defenders had a slight advantage sitting to windward and looking to overhaul the challengers.

In an attempt to prevent the Kiwis from rolling over their breeze and Luna Rossa tried to luff the Kiwis and pressed the button for a protest, complaining that Emirates Team New Zealand had not kept clear. From the air it looked like a desperate attempt to prevent the inevitable. The umpires took the same view and refused to award a penalty.

The move had been an Italian gamble that hadn’t paid off and had slowed them up in the process, delivering the advantage to Emirates Team New Zealand.

From there, the home team kept their lead throughout the three-lap race and while the distance between them ebbed and flowed with each leg and never got larger than 23 seconds, Luna Rossa were unable to make a big enough impression on the Kiwi lead.

After 23 minutes of racing Emirates Team New Zealand took the first win of the 36th America’s Cup in a race that was defined by the first few seconds off the start.

Race 2 - Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli beat Emirates Team New Zealand 

Start: 1715
Port: ITA
Stbd: NZL
Course: E
Axis: 358
Length: 2nm
Current: 0.1 knots @ 172
Winner – Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli – 0:07 

As both boats came into the start zone the breeze had increased a notch and was now sitting at 13kts.

The entries were now reversed from the previous race, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli came in from the left on port, with Emirates Team New Zealand entering from the right.

Once again both headed out towards the right-hand side of the pre-start area, but this time Team New Zealand tacked around while the Italians gybed. When the Kiwis came down from above to engage with the Italians they were a little slow to do so and ended up trailing. The result was that the early advantage went to the Italians forcing the Kiwis to tack onto port at the start in order to try and escape the clutches of their opponents.

Second race winner Luna Rossa Prada PirelliSecond race winner Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli

But co-helmsmen Jimmy Spithill and Francesco Bruni had anticipated this and tacked quickly to cover.

As the pair headed out to the right and the next tack ensued, Luna Rossa delivered a similar defensive move, tacking on the bow of Team New Zealand and sailing as high as possible to prevent the Kiwis from coming through. The tactic was working but the margin remained small.

On the next tack back onto port, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli were to windward but Emirates Team New Zealand had clear wind to leeward. Was this their opportunity to put their foot down and slide through to leeward?

It might have been an opportunity, but Peter Burling and Co were unable to exploit it.

Another tack back onto starboard and the Italian defensive position returned.

By gate 1 the Italians had managed to pull a 13 second lead over the Kiwis as both boats rounded the right-hand mark of the gate.

From there little changed on the first downwind leg which was a drag race to gate 2, the Kiwis taking back a single second to round 12seconds behind.

Halfway up the second beat, the Italians benefitted from picking the better side of the course and extended their lead to 250m on the water. Yet despite the physical distance between the two, the Italians continued to cover their opponents.

By gate 3 Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli had extended their lead to 25 seconds as they rounded the left-hand mark of the gate, accelerating to 49.8kts as they did so.

An indication of how hard the Kiwis were chasing came as they turned the same mark hitting 51knots as they did so. On the water, the distance between the pair was now 430m.

As the Italians prepared to round the left-hand mark of gate 4 they dropped their starboard foil, the first indication that they wanted to pull off a high-speed tack out of the rounding. They did and indeed it was perfect.

But heading for the right-hand side of the course cost them distance on the Kiwis who rounded the same left-hand mark but headed out to the left. By the time the pair came back together, the margin had decreased significantly and by gate 5 the time between them was just 12 seconds, down from 24.

On the last downwind leg to the finish, the tension built as the Kiwis brought some breeze with them and pulled back a few more seconds.

By the finish, it was close, just 7 seconds. But a win is a win, whatever the margin. The Italians had put their first point on the board, the scores were now even.

So, for those looking for a clear indication as to who has the upper hand in the 36th America’s Cup, the opening day delivered no guide. Instead, it had proved just how closely matched these two teams are and how the Cup looks unlikely to be a walkover, for either team.

The Match will resume on Friday 12th of March at 4:15 pm NZT weather permitting, with no possible start later than 6:00 pm NZT. Race days in March are Saturday 13, Sunday 14, Monday 15 and each day after that until either Emirates Team New Zealand or Luna Rossa Prada Pireli reach seven wins.

Update from Team Emirates New Zealand

Race 1 With Emirates Team New Zealand entering on port, they chose to sail deep, then lead out to the boundary. Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli followed, engaging them below the line, and giving Emirates Team New Zealand skipper Peter Burling a glimpse of the line to windward of the Italians - and he took it, starting strongly to windward at speed and on time, quickly gaining a lead of 18 metres on their opposition. For race one of the 36th America’s Cup presented by Prada, this forced the Italians into a choice - hold on to the leeward position and try to gauge the speed of Emirates Team New Zealand, or throw a high risk manoeuvre to try for a foul. Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli co-helmsman Jimmy Spithill luffed hard, trying for the protest and failed, slowing him and allowing Emirates Team New Zealand to ease ahead. Heading up to the first windward gate that lead extended to 160 metres, and rounding the top gate 14 seconds ahead of Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli, the focus now for Burling, Tuke and Ashby was to sail cleanly and keep a close cover on their opposition. This they did, extending to 380 metres on leg two and 314 metres on leg 3. Both teams split at the bottom gate of leg 4, but this had little impact, with Burling heard to say, “lets take the easy option”, keeping it simple and rounding the final top gate 230 metres and 20 seconds ahead. Emirates Team New Zealand kept it tight to extend on the final leg to the finish, extending to 550 metres, winning race 1 by 31 seconds.

As Peter Burling commented on race 1. “Really happy with the pre-start and how the team has the boat in good shape. We should have probably hit them harder on the second beat, but happy with the boat and to finally get into racing. It’s been three months or so since we last raced - and great to compete against another boat rather than our chase boat.”

Emirates Team New Zealand kept it tight to extend on the final leg to the finish, extending to 550 metres, winning race 1 by 31 secondsEmirates Team New Zealand kept it tight to extend on the final leg to the finish, extending to 550 metres, winning race 1 by 31 seconds

Race 2 With both teams changing down to smaller jibs for the increased shifty and gusty conditions, they were keen to reset and get into the second race of the day. Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli entered on port, heading out to the boundary to gybe back to the line, with Emirates Team New Zealand staying high, tacking back in then soaking down to engage. Coming back in late allowed Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli the lead to the line, and as in race 1, control of the race course in these conditions was strongly with the boat in front. Both boats sailed in the high mode up the first leg, looking for a chink in their opponents armour, but the boat speeds looked similar and so it was all about minimising mistakes. Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli kept it tight and headed into the first gate extending a 70 metre lead out to almost 300 metres after rounding the first gate ahead by 13 seconds.

Legs 2 and 3 saw Emirates Team New Zealand work hard to get out of phase with the covering Italians and make some gains. This they did on leg 5, eating hard into the lead of Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli, with 12 seconds the gap at the final top gate. With Burling and Ashby pushing hard looking for added breeze, the gap on the finish line was reduced to just 7 seconds, levelling the scores on the opening day of the 36th America’s Cup presented by PRADA to one win apiece.

As Jimmy Spithill commented at the end of the day “We just kept the boat going well, and it was a good sign of strength to bounce back after that first race. I think it was one of those race tracks where the lead boat had the advantage - picking the time to tack or gybe. It is great to be competitive!”

For Peter Burling, it was an honest appraisal of race 2. “We didn’t get the best start, not quite doing the best job of the roundup, and ending up skidding sideways and falling into them - which was a shame, and we looked a bit rusty there. What was really good was to be able to get back into them on that last beat. It is no secret we haven’t raced for a while - it was great to get the first win, but one mistake and life is pretty hard for the rest of the race. There is plenty to debrief and we know the team that wins the last race wins the event, so we are happy to get a win on the board and move onto the weekend. it felt like the boats were pretty even today - but we are happy we have a tool to win this.”

Published in America's Cup
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Three months after the first official race for the new AC75 class, the 36th America’s Cup presented by PRADA looks set to lay a marker down in history, with the first race of the Match starting tomorrow 10th of March at 4:15 pm NZT.

Emirates Team New Zealand Skipper Peter Burling and Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Skipper and Team Director Max Sirena fronted the opening press conference, ahead of tomorrow’s start to the best of 13 race series.

America's Cup Match

Fast, extreme boats capable of previously unimaginable speeds have been the obvious focus for attention. And yet, at the same time, the racing itself has seen a return to a more traditional style with upwind starts and windward/leeward courses.

After almost four years, it is finally time for the 36th America’s CupAfter almost four years, it is finally time for the 36th America’s Cup

But it’s not just commentators and spectators that have been impressed and surprised by the latest Cup evolution, crews are equally taken aback.

“These boats were only concepts three years ago, and now they are exceeding everyone’s expectations of what they can do, and how fast they can go around a race track. The boats’ speed is a mystery for us like for everyone else. At the end of the day, if you talk to anybody in yacht racing, they say if you are not fast enough, you are not in the race. We have done everything to get the fastest boat as possible, we pushed very hard on the hydrodynamic low drag, but the Italians have put together a very good package as well and it makes it even more exciting.” said New Zeland's Peter Burling.

Emirates Team New Zealand Skipper Peter BurlingEmirates Team New Zealand Skipper Peter Burling

Neither side was giving much away though. Max Sirena, since his first America’s Cup in 2000, when boat speeds only just broke into double figures, has seen huge changes at first hand.

“The boats definitely raising the bar and this Cup cycle has been a quantum leap. Yet, it has happened with a return to the old school style of racing which makes it even more exciting. Still, I think it’s too hard to judge a boat’s performance just watching it sailing. We know the Kiwis are fast because we raced them two months ago and we saw them during practice against the Americans and the British a few weeks ago, but I’ll let you know tomorrow afternoon if this Final will be close or not. What I can tell is that we are aware this a lifetime opportunity we will try everything to win.”

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Skipper and Team Director Max SirenaLuna Rossa Prada Pirelli Skipper and Team Director Max Sirena

PRADA ACWS Auckland 2020

For all the knowledge that has been gained and the intense training that has taken place to build the teams’ individual playbooks, the reality is that despite the changes and the new pace of the game, the first race of the 36th America’s Cup will reflect all the previous Cup Matches over the last 170 years. Because, as both boats line up for the start, neither will truly know how the opening race will unfold.

The Weather forecast for tomorrow is a North-westerly breeze between 12 and 17 knots.

That's it, game on, time to race tomorrow 4.15 pm.

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Locked down in Dublin and glued to the America’s Cup coming from Auckland, artist, Pete Hogan has been watching a lot of the preliminary action on his computer. Inevitably, such a sailfest inspired the round the world sailor to paint what he saw in his usual wonderful style (below) and to provide some useful commentary on the eve of the Cup in New Zealand.

The competition for the oldest trophy in international sport that dates back to 1851 begins on Wednesday.

The 36th America's Cup will be contested on the inner Hauraki Gulf, off Auckland, between the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and Circolo Della Vela Sicilia of Italy.

 ‘Steinlager’ - For obvious reasons the spectator fleet of this AC has been restricted. Normally there is a stellar cast of camp followers lining the race track. Superyachts, interesting yachts, gorilla advertising, camp followers, celebs. Here in the background, we have Steinlager, the most successful ocean racer ever built‘Steinlager’ - For obvious reasons the spectator fleet of this AC has been restricted. Normally there is a stellar cast of camp followers lining the race track. Superyachts, interesting yachts, gorilla advertising, camp followers, celebs. Here in the background, we have Steinlager, the most successful ocean racer ever built
‘Carbon’ - Everything is black. Carbon everywhere, interspersed with precision markings, graphics and branding. The simple, stark, simplicity of Luna Rossa gets my vote. Italians are nothing if not stylish‘Carbon’ - Everything is black. Carbon everywhere, interspersed with precision markings, graphics and branding. The simple, stark, simplicity of Luna Rossa gets my vote. Italians are nothing if not stylish.‘Crossing’ - With the boats travelling at 40 knots it would not be much good attending the event. Even with a good camera. So the online coverage is essential. Celebrated marine artist JMW Turner might have lashed himself to the mast to sketch the storm. Were he alive today, he would be lashed to his computer?‘Crossing’ - With the boats travelling at 40 knots it would not be much good attending the event. Even with a good camera. So the online coverage is essential. Celebrated marine artist JMW Turner might have lashed himself to the mast to sketch the storm. Were he alive today, he would be lashed to his computer?
‘Hook’ - The Start. The boats are exciting but if you don’t win the start, chances are, it's game over. The race becomes a procession. But then, that's the America’s Cup
‘Foils’ -  Are these boats really sailing boats? The Americas Cup gives them legitimacy and I am sure a foiling class bigger than the Moths must be in the works. The foilers are not going to go away.‘Foils’ -  Are these boats really sailing boats? The Americas Cup gives them legitimacy and I am sure a foiling class bigger than the Moths must be in the works. The foilers are not going to go away.’Rangitoto’ The modern city or the island of Rangitoto provides the backdrop to the racing. The lighthouse on Rangitoto dates from 1882. Auckland is about the size of Dublin and NZ has the same population as Ireland. Could all this happen in Dublin Bay someday?’Rangitoto’ The modern city or the island of Rangitoto provides the backdrop to the racing. The lighthouse on Rangitoto dates from 1882. Auckland is about the size of Dublin and NZ has the same population as Ireland. Could all this happen in Dublin Bay someday?The intention is to work these sketches into larger paintings on canvas. Above is the first effort.The intention is to work these sketches into larger paintings on canvas. Above is the first effort.

Enjoy the racing. May the best boat (from Italy!) win.

Pete Hogan. Irish Artist. www.phogan.com

All the above paintings are for sale.

Contact the artist: [email protected]

Published in America's Cup
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The highly anticipated Race 1 of the 36th America’s Cup Match will start shortly after 4 pm (NZT) on Wednesday 10th March after the New Zealand Government announced a reduction in alert levels today.

Under COVID-19 Alert Level 2 or 1, the race schedule will remain as planned with 2 races per day – Wednesday 10th, Friday 12th, Saturday 13th, Sunday 14th, Monday 15th and each day after that. The current schedule has racing every day until either the Defender Emirates Team New Zealand or the Challenger Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli reaches 7 wins.

Any changes to this schedule will need to be agreed upon between both teams.

RACING UNDER LEVEL 2

Racing under Level 2 will be restricted to only be sailed on either Race Course A or E.
(Under COVID-19 Alert Level 1 all courses will become an option to race on for the Regatta Director again.)

IN THE RACE VILLAGE IN LEVEL 2

Under Level 2, the bars, cafés and restaurants and other retail outlets within the America's Cup Race Village will open, and operate within Ministry of Health guidelines. Entertainment, LIVE racing on the Big Screens, and activations are unable to operate until we move back into Level 1.

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As well as the connection forged through the presentation of the Sir Thomas Lipton Memorial Cup by Royal Ulster Yacht Club on Belfast Lough to the 36th America's Cup challenging team's yacht club, the Circolo Della Vela Sicilia Yacht Club, the club has a personal link through one of its members.

Heather Forrest's great-nephew, Shannon Falcone is Trimmer/Grinder on Luna Rossa. His mother is Heather's niece and Heather says he was named Shannon "as he has Irish blood, and his Great Grandmother, the late Molly Gray from Bangor, would have been so proud".

Forty-year-old Shannon comes from a sailing family, his first taste of the sea having been as a toddler, when his father Carlo and Mother Pandora, left Europe and sailed to Antigua. It was with his Olympian father that he originally sailed in Stars, competing at the 1998, 1999 and 2000 Star World Championships. He has competed in multiple America's Cups and Volvo Ocean Races. At one stage his sailing career saw him on Oracle Team USA. He then re-joined Luna Rossa.

And it's to the Luna Rossa's home club, the Circolo Della Vela Sicilia Yacht Club in Palermo, Sicily, that the Sir Thomas Lipton Memorial Cup will be destined. As reported in Afloat.ie, the Cup was handed over at a dinner on 24th February in the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron Committee Room, where Royal Ulster member John Taylor who lives in Auckland, made the presentation.

(Left to Right) John Taylor - RUYC, Aaron Young - Commodore RNZYS, Agostino Randazzo - Commodore Circolo Della Vella Sicilia YC in Sicily receiving the Sir Thomas Lipton Memorial Cup(Left to Right) John Taylor - RUYC, Aaron Young - Commodore RNZYS, Agostino Randazzo - Commodore Circolo Della Vella Sicilia YC in Sicily receiving the Sir Thomas Lipton Memorial Cup Photo: COR36 – Studio Borlenghi

Present also were Francesco Longanesi Cattani, Representative of the Challenger of Record, who hosted and sponsored the event; Aaron Young – Commodore RNZYS and Agostino Randazzo, Commodore - Circolo Della Vela Sicilia Yacht Club. Agostino Randazzo was pleased to receive the cup and impressed also to have the personal addressed letter of congratulations from RUYC Commodore, HRH The Duke of Gloucester. John was delighted to be involved " A relaxed and convivial atmosphere was engendered by our Prada host Francesco Longanesi Cattani supported by an excellent dinner laid on by RNZYS. The conversation was free-flowing and constructive suggestions for the future of this event were exchanged between the clubs."

The Presentation of the Pell Cup by Simon Davidson (L) - Commodore Ida Lewis YC, Agostino Randazzo - Commodore Circolo Della Vella Sicilia YC,(centre) Aaron Young - Commodore RNZYS.The Presentation of the Pell Cup by Simon Davidson (L) - Commodore Ida Lewis YC, Agostino Randazzo - Commodore Circolo Della Vella Sicilia YC,(centre) Aaron Young - Commodore RNZYS. Photo: COR36 – Studio Borlenghi

Ida Lewis YC Commodore, Simon Davidson also presented their Pell Cup to the Challenger at the same event. The two clubs have a long history as four of the Cup presentations were held in the Ida Lewis YC.

John Taylor - RUYC handing over letter of congratulations from HRH Duke of Gloucester, Commodore RUYC to Agostino Randazzo - Commodore Circolo Della Vella Sicilia YC in SicilyJohn Taylor - RUYC handing over the letter of congratulations from HRH Duke of Gloucester, Commodore RUYC to Agostino Randazzo - Commodore Circolo Della Vella Sicilia YC in Sicily Photo: COR36 – Studio Borlenghi

In an interesting development Rear Commodore Johnny Ritchie has recently been told by ex-Vice Commodore, George Ralston that RUYC received an invitation via an Outport member Teddy Thomas (who was also a member of The New York Yacht Club) to present a trophy to the Challenger for the America's Cup in memory of Sir Thomas Lipton. In 1970 the Committee purchased the Cup, which was originally for the Challenging team but is now presented to the Challenging Yacht Club.

Meanwhile, we await the resumption of the America's Cup racing on the weekend of Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th March, the event having been postponed in the light of the seven-day Auckland Covid 19 Level 3 lockdown. 

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The latest lockdown in Auckland has delivered a new challenge to both Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli as they prepare for the 36th America's Cup Match. The level 3 restrictions that were announced by the Government late on Saturday night have already seen the postponement of the start of the Match. There will be no racing this weekend, Wednesday 10 March is the earliest that racing can start.

The delay means that as teams prepared for the new start date their weather forecasters and strategists needed to look further ahead if they were to optimise their boats for the conditions come the day. But as we’ve seen already since the start of racing in December, thanks to the complexity of the local landmass and the surrounding water, weather forecasting is a tricky business around the Hauraki Gulf. Planning for 10 days ahead rather than five is a significant jump. At present, the long-range forecast suggests NW 15-20kts but it would be a brave person who bet on these conditions at this stage.

But aside from the weather, there is another major factor that will pile on the pressure for the teams and that is making their declarations to the measurement committee.

Monday 1 March at 16:03 local time was the deadline for both America's Cup teams to define and finalise the configuration of their boats for the Match. With that deadline now passed, both teams will have laid out precisely the boat that they will use for the series with specific details on all the key areas such as the hull, rig, foils and many other areas of the boat including its precise weight.

Within these key areas, there are various subsections that define each element in more detail. And while the AC75 and the rules that define it are complex, the bottom line is that there is barely any wriggle room once a team has staked its claim to the type of boat that they intend to race.

Overall the philosophy behind this subtly different approach was to encourage teams to prepare their boats to be an all-round boat.

This is a marked change from previous Cups where the rules on declaration allowed teams to turn up to each race day in the best configuration. The result was that teams would apply to the measurers for a new certificate ahead of each day’s racing.

The main exclusion to the rules this time around is the type and number of sails, but even then there are strict rules on the weight of the sails that are carried on board and corrector weights that may be required to ensure that the all-up weight of the boat remains the same.

So, as teams looked ahead to weather data that is more than a week away they had to pin the tail on the donkey as to how their boat will be configured.

It’s no easy task, but there is a further complication and that is making a list of what their replacement items will be in the case of gear failure: Replacing a broken piece of kit is not as straightforward as you may think.

First, teams need to be able to demonstrate to the measurers that the gear failure was unintentional and then that it is not possible to effect a repair.

Assuming they are successful in doing this, teams can only use replacement items that have been included on the list that they made as part of their declaration and in their order of preference.

If a team is successful in their application, then their opponent automatically has the opportunity to make the same change.

Published in America's Cup
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In light of the latest Auckland COVID-19 Level 3 lockdown put in place by the Government from 6 am this morning for the next seven days, America’s Cup Event Ltd has postponed the first weekend of racing on Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th of March.

The purpose of this early decision is to provide at least some certainty in planning for all event stakeholders with regard to next weekend initially.

America’s Cup Event Ltd Chair, Tina Symmans said, “ACE has always said that it wishes to hold as much of the racing under Level 1 restrictions as possible. But to be prudent, ACE will apply for an exemption to race under Level 3 restrictions so as to keep as many options open as possible. However, racing will not occur before at least Wednesday 10th March.”

In the meantime, ACE will continue to work closely with the relevant authorities over the next few days as this latest COVID situation unfolds.

“We need to understand all likely scenarios so that an updated racing schedule can be put in place whilst also ensuring the regulatory requirements are met,” concluded Symmans.

Published in America's Cup
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When the "low black schooner" America won what was to become an historic race around the Isle of Wight on Friday 22nd August 1851 from a small fleet of varied English yachts, thereby winning a silver ewer which was eventually to become The America's Cup, the British Empire was approaching its world-girdling all-powerful peak. As for the United States of America, they were expanding with such vigour that they overcame a destructive Civil War ten years later to enter an era of such growth and strength that inevitably, the USA became the world's superpower.

Yet in 1851, Italy was not even a nation state. It took until 1871 to achieve Garibaldi's Risorgimento, although the Kingdom of Italy was to be somewhat prematurely declared on St Patrick's Day 1861. You just can't beat St Patrick's Day for premature announcements – we can all guess what this year's one might be.

As for New Zealand, as the name indicates, the first Europeans to discover it were the Dutch. But they first saw it some hundreds of years after the voyaging Polynesians - who were to become the Maoris - had settled in the place. Yet even by 1851, New Zealand had only recently been declared a minor Colony of the British Empire, and the Maoris continued to significantly outnumber the new European settlers.

The beginning of a continuing chapter of sailing history. The schooner America crosses the line to win the race round the Isle of Wight on Friday August 22nd 1851The beginning of a continuing chapter of sailing history. The schooner America crosses the line to win the race round the Isle of Wight on Friday, August 22nd 1851.

Vladimir Ilyich Lenin remarked that it can take ten years to achieve a week's movement in human history, yet equally ten years' movement can sometimes happen in a week or even less. Whatever, the fact is that quite a bit of world-changing history has happened at varying speeds in the 170 years since 1851, but above all its turmoil there still emerges the America's Cup, the Auld Mug, the world's oldest international sporting challenge.

Yet it would have been beyond the wildest imagination in 1851 to visualise that by March 2021, the two national teams starting to race for it in less than a week's time will be New Zealand and Italy, with the former defending. Just try to imagine how outlandish this would have looked to a Victorian Englishman 170 years ago….

Light years from Cowes 1851. The 2021 defenders, Emirates Team New ZealandLight years from Cowes 1851. The 2021 defenders, Emirates Team New Zealand

The Kiwis are doing it with backing from an airline (an airline?) called Emirates from the mysterious Arab world, an airline based in a futuristic high-rise city around what a very few intrepid British explorers, soldiers and traders might have known in 1851 as dhow-filled Dubai Creek.

As for the Italians, the notoriously undisciplined comic-opera Italians of the 19th century? Well, 170 years later they suddenly seem to have re-discovered the ferociously efficient non-nonsense Roman Empire's way of doing things. And like the Roman Empire, they're racially blind, as one of their two star helmsmen is Australian. Yet their campaign appears to be supported by the fashion house of Prada (formerly humble dressmakers and seamstresses, forsooth), and some family called Pirelli, who are manufacturer of inflatable rubber tyres, whatever they might be.

The discipline of the Roman Empire sails again – the Luna Rossa challenger Prada PirelliThe discipline of the Roman Empire sails again – the Luna Rossa challenger Prada Pirelli 

Continuing to see this from the viewpoint of an English sailing enthusiast in Cowes in 1851, we're surprised to learn that the racing is taking place on the other side of the world at a place called Auckland, which calls itself the City of Sails. In 1851, it's a little harbour village that has been called Auckland for only ten years, and our English yachtie of 170 years ago would probably be much more familiar with the place of its ultimate name origins, the coal-mining town of Bishop Auckland up north in County Durham.

But the thing that would really floor our 1851 yachting enthusiast is the news that in order to reach next month's final, the Italians have – with brutal efficiency - seen off rival challenges by the USA, and what is now called the United Kingdom but in 1851 was forever England, the British team having been dispatched with a ruthlessness which hasn't been seen since the Americans saw off the British Sceptre challenge of 1958.

The image has moved on from a coal-mining town in Durham – the waterfront in Auckland, with America's Cup action being played outThe image has moved on from a coal-mining town in Durham – the waterfront in Auckland, with America's Cup action being played out 

By this time our Cowes observer of 1851 will be so discombobulated that – with growing hysteria – he'll be demanding to know if the Chinese and Indians are involved? To which the answer is not yet, but it's surely only a matter of time…..

So as world sailing's self-styled greatest contest so vividly illustrates the pivoting of global centres of sporting power and economic muscle, it's timely to remember that in the 36 challenges for the America's Cup since the first officially-recognised one was made off New York in 1870, no less than eight have had Irish origins.

That's 22%, for heaven's sake. These challenges were made between 1886 and 1931. And each one gives us some telling insights into the Ireland of the time in which they were made, none more so than the first in 1886.

There'd already been three unsuccessful challenges, in 1870, 1871 and 1876, but it was only the latter which bore any resemblance to the modern match-racing format, as the 1870 British challenger James Ashbury had found he was racing against a fleet of 23 boats, and was only tenth overall, with the winner a shoal-draft schooner which took her victory by taking a short cut across "thin water" with her centreboard raised.

So for 1871 the Americans agreed Ashbury would race against only one boat. But they reserved the right to select their boat-for-the-day from a flotilla of four specialized boats, the choice being weather-dependent, and not surprisingly Ashbury's Livonia – which had already had to make a Transatlantic passage to comply with the challenge rules – found herself outclassed.

Things became more serious in 1876, as the challenger was Canadian, and though she'd to get to New York sailing on her own bottom, it didn't require the same ocean-going demands as crossing from Europe. The boat was the Countess of Dufferin, named for the very supportive wife of the notably able Canadian Governor General Lord Dufferin, of sailing into High Latitudes fame. So I suppose we might claim yet another Irish link there. But as Canadian yachting was in its infancy, the strict new match-racing format underlined the American superiority.

This was further emphasised by another Canadian challenge in 1881 when the Americans won the clinching race by 38 minutes and 54 seconds, a margin which has never been matched since. But things were a bit closer in 1885 when the British returned to the fray with Richard Sutton's Genesta, yet the Americans clearly kept the cup. But despite that, Cup fever was building, and the first Irish-flavoured challenge of 1886 was to do much to build popular interest.

Lt Paddy Henn from County Clare, America's Cup Challenger of 1886, was never happier than when sailingLt Paddy Henn from County Clare, America's Cup Challenger of 1886, was never happier than when sailing

Lt William "Paddy" Henn RN (1847- to 1894) was a scion of the Henn family of County Clare, who'd originally bought lands on the west shore of the Fergus Estuary on the north side of the Shannon Estuary in 1685 from Henry O'Brien, 7th Earl of Thomond.

As the O'Briens of Thomond weren't exactly renowned for their probity, it's a moot point whether or not the land sold to the Henns was really the O'Briens' to sell in the first place. But the newcomers proved to be popular landlords, while for their part they liked the place so much that when they built their modest country home, they called it Paradise House.

The driveway to the Henn family's Paradise House, with the Fergus and Shannon Estuaries beyond The driveway to the Henn family's Paradise House, with the Fergus and Shannon Estuaries beyond.

Paradise House in 1936 Paradise House in 1936

Many of the Henns were early recreational sailors, and young William was so keen he joined the navy primarily to sail the oceans of the world. But didn't get nearly as much sailing as he hoped, so he bought himself out of the service – an expensive enough ploy – but proudly retained the modest Lieutenant title, and thereafter was known as "Lt Henn, the jolly Irish tar".

That he was now able to sail whenever he wanted was made possible by a judicious but very happy marriage to a Scots heiress,
Susan Matilda Cunninghame-Graham-Bartholomew (1853-1911), where every hyphen represented yet another fortune. She shared his enthusiasm for sailing, and they commissioned the 102ft iron cutter Galatea from designer John Beavor-Webb, who was to make his name in America designing such craft as the succession of ever-larger and very elegant Corsair steam yachts for financier J Pierpoint Morgan. Originally, however, he hailed from Enniskillen in County Fermanagh, which made this even more of an Irish challenge.

But as it was funded by Mrs Henn's large if depleting fortune, the challenge was made through the club with which her family was linked, the Royal Northern YC in the Clyde. Nevertheless, Galatea spent some time in Ireland anchored in a useful pool below Paradise House before making the required Atlantic crossing with the crew including Mrs Henn and her pet monkey Peggy.

Galatea racing. In reality, she was a comfortable cruising yacht which happened to set an enormous spread of rather good sails.Galatea racing. In reality, she was a comfortable cruising yacht which happened to set an enormous spread of rather good sails.

Galatea was in a reality a very comfortable cruising yacht which happened to set an enormous spread of rather good sails. Paddy and Susan Henn were very content with living aboard her for long periods, and few enough of their domestic items were brought ashore to lighten the ship for racing, so not surprisingly they were roundly beaten in the series off New York sailed in the Autumn of 1886.

However, as it was sailed in light airs, the Henns said they were game to stay on aboard Galatea in New York through the winter to race again in the stronger winds of Spring. Such was their popularity that the New York Yacht Club agreed, and the scenes of domestic bliss aboard Galatea in wintry New York - with Peggy in the ascendant - provided ready fodder for New York's tabloid press.

Galatea's solidly comfortable saloon. Paddy and Susan Henn and their pet monkey Peggy lived aboard in New York through the winter of 1986-87Galatea's solidly comfortable saloon. Paddy and Susan Henn and their pet monkey Peggy lived aboard in New York through the winter of 1986-87

But the brisk winds of Spring, with Paddy and Susan Henn enjoying themselves hugely, still failed to do the business, so they took fond farewell of their many New York friends and spent eight years cruising the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, saddened only by the death of Peggy after seven of those years – she was given a proper burial at sea with full naval honours.

Further sadness came with the relatively early death, aged only 47, of William Henn in 1894, but the gallant Susan kept the Galatea in commission, and continued to sail her and live aboard for long periods unto her own death in 1911. After this, the much-loved ship was broken up, which rather puts paid to the story that she lurks in the mud below the ruins of Paradise House, which the Henn family continued to occupy until 1936.

However, in nearby Ballynacally there's a memorial to the Galatea Challenge whose unveiling in 2009 was attended by Brigadier Frank Henn, great-grand-nephew of William Henn, who fondly remembered happy family sailing holidays at Paradise House in the 1930s, a direct link which ended as recently as last November 2020, when Frank Henn died aged 99.

Monica and Frank Henn at the unveiling of the Galatea Memorial in Ballynacally in 2009. Frank Henn (died November 2020) was the great-grand-nephew of Lt Paddy HennMonica and Frank Henn at the unveiling of the Galatea Memorial in Ballynacally in 2009. Frank Henn (died November 2020) was the great-grand-nephew of Lt Paddy Henn

While the Galatea Irish challenge engendered nothing but international goodwill, the next two Irish Challenges, in 1893 and 1895 by Lord Dunraven of Adare in County Limerick just across the Shannon Estuary from the Henn lands, became noted for their acrimony. Dunraven was extremely competitive, and the stakes were higher, for by this time the America's Cup had so entered public consciousness that the first US defenders to lose it would find themselves cast into total outer darkness.

Although only seven seasons had passed since the Galatea challenge, big class yacht racing designed had moved forward in light year terms, and Dunraven's 1893 challenger, the 117ft Valkyrie III (he'd Wagner on the mind), represented such advanced thinking from the G L Watson yacht design office in Glasgow that, as a gesture of support and in order to provide Valkyrie III with a training partner, the Prince of Wales ordered the almost identical Britannia, and the two were built side-by-side in D & W Henderson's shipyard on the Clyde.

Subsequently, Henderson's was taken over lock, stock and barrel by Harland & Wolff of Belfast, which explains why you can now see Valkyrie's superb builder's half model in the Royal Ulster YC in Bangor if you're looking for another Irish connection. But meanwhile, the supportive involvement of the inevitably headline-getting Prince of Wales was yet another example of Dunraven's misfortune. For although Valkyrie II was undoubtedly the first big class of the type, subsequently the magnificent new hull form became known as "The Britannia Ideal", while in terms of sailing history the name Valkyrie is most readily associated with one of the most acrimonious episodes in the history of the America's Cup.

Britannia at full power in her first season of 1893. Although she is virtually a sister-ship of the slightly earlier Valkyrie II, nowadays the design is venerated as "The Britannia Ideal", while the name of Valkyrie is associated with an acrimonious America's CupBritannia at full power in her first season of 1893. Although she is virtually a sister-ship of the slightly earlier Valkyrie II, nowadays the design is venerated as "The Britannia Ideal", while the name of Valkyrie is associated with an acrimonious America's Cup

This came as a result of Dunraven's second challenge in 1895 with Valkyrie III, also Watson-designed. Watson's designs were pacing well with the creations of the great Nathanael G Herreshoff for the defenders, but in 1893 the Americans had superior sails and sailed better.

Things seemed to have moved forward for the Dunraven camp in 1895, as it was hugely resourced from his own funds from a family fortune built on steady land-buying by the Quinn family of County Limerick since the 17th Century, subsequently augmented by an ancestor's marriage to a Miss Wyndham, who happened to own a field in Wales. But as it was a coalfield, and the biggest one in Wales at that, the added income was beyond counting.

Plus that, Dunraven was also backed by other partners such as the morbidly wealthy McCalmont family of Mount Juliet in County Kilkenny. But that's forgotten nowadays, for he got into such a row with the New York Yacht Club about the control of the spectator fleet that he withrew from the series after the tense situation was exacerbated by a collision. So many bad-tempered claims and counter-claims were flying about that the New York Yacht Club cancelled Dunraven's Honorary Membership, while his wealthy supporters' syndicate disappeared into the undergrowth.

It became a full-blown international confrontation right up to government level, the complete opposite to the affable Galatea Chalenge. But in fairness to Dunraven there were two sides to the story - his just didn't get heard at the time. And the more thoughtful sailing histories have been kinder to him, while his many achievements in other fields have shown him to be one of the outstanding people in the Ireland of his time.

The Earl of Dunraven of Adare, Co Limerick. There was much more to him than a dispute at the America's Cup of 1895The Earl of Dunraven of Adare, Co Limerick. There was much more to him than a dispute at the America's Cup of 1895.

However, back in the 1890s, the America's Cup had now reached a new peak of international fame or notoriety, depending on your point of view, and it took a marketing genius to see its full potential. Betty Armstrong has already recounted in Afloat.ie how the five challenges by Thomas Lipton between 1899 and 1930 through the Royal Ulster Yacht Club are now commemorated by the presentation by RUYC of the Lipton Cup to the winner of the Challenger Series, and Italy's Luna Rossa has already been given the 2021 honours in Auckland. But any overview of Lipton and his news-making campaigns can barely scratch the surface of a chameleon-like figure, whose achievements in developing shopping, marketing and publicity projects were prodigious.

It's not for nothing that one of the books about him has been called "The Man Who Invented Himself", for he could be anything that his people or his audience wanted him to be. You want him to be Irish despite his Glasgow associations? Well, probably he did come from Monaghan, but in case there's any doubt, he called all his racing yachts Shamrock, and his elegant supporting steam yacht was called Erin.

Made it! Thomas Lipton gets the ultimate contemporary recognitionMade it! Thomas Lipton gets the ultimate contemporary recognition

And through his encouragement, big yacht design moved on through the ultimate development of the stylish classic craft created by Watson and Fife in Scotland until, for his fourth challenge in 1914, he changed tacks completely to use the design and build services of Charles Nicholson of Gosport, who produced a truly revolutionary giant scow in Shamrock IV.

Her launching was a classic display of Lipton razzmatazz. It's going to be in Gosport? So what's the most famous ship afloat in Gosport? Nelson's Victory of course, for this was before she was permanently consigned to dry-dock. So we'll get HMS Victory to provide the background. Can't be done, she's a national monument. No such phrase as "can't be done" when Lipton's on the campaign trail. The photo says it all, though you can't help but wondered how, with those enormous topsides, the Victory even managed to sail to Trafalgar, let alone fight and win a mighty battle once she got there.

Only Tommy Lipton could have arranged it that Nelson's Victory should be the "Ship in Attendance" at the May 1914 launching of his very innovative Charles E Nicholson-designed Shamrock IV.Only Tommy Lipton could have arranged it that Nelson's Victory should be the "Ship in Attendance" at the May 1914 launching of his very innovative Charles E Nicholson-designed Shamrock IV.

But the fates were against the extraordinary Shamrock IV and her undoubted potential. Although she got across the Atlantic, the Kaiser Unpleantness of 1914-1918 and the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1919 postponed the next America's Cup until 1920, by which time the lightly-built Shamrock IV had reputedly sagged in her storage cradle of six years, and the American had ample opportunity to assess her revolutionary lines.

Yet even so, she almost did it. But almost is not enough, and Lipton's final challenge in 1930 with Shamrock V to the new J-Class Rule painfully demonstrated the superiority of the latest American technology.

And after Shamrock V, that was it for the eight Irish involvements with the America's Cup. Yet back in the 1880s, it didn't seem at all odd that Paddy Henn should make his Quixotic gesture, for at the same time, Foster Connor, one of the leading members of the RUYC in Bangor, had in 1886 commissioned an America's Cup design study from rising star G L Watson.

The end of the line. Even aged 80, Lipton was still on the ball with publicity, and he arranged that his 1930 challenger Shamrock V featured in a double-page spread in The Illustrated London NewsThe end of the line. Even aged 80, Lipton was still on the ball with publicity, and he arranged that his 1930 challenger Shamrock V featured in a double-page spread in The Illustrated London News

Ultimately nothing came of it, but such was the growing energy and wealth of Belfast at the time that it didn't seem at all beyond the realms of possibility. Equally, the hectic involvement of Lord Dunraven was simply the sort of thing that a hyper-energetic persona in his position would do in the 1890s. As for Thomas Lipton making a bit of a thing out of his Irishness, sometimes there was a hint that it was slightly more serious than it seemed, and at the most basic, it was a good career over.

But now, we watch from the margins, and grasp at any links. In 1970, it emerged that Eric Strain of RNIYC at Cultra, 1947 Dragon Gold Cup winner, fourth-placed in the 1948 Olympics, and subsequently a successful Dragon helm in Sydney after emigrating to Australia, was sub-helm to Gordon Ingate on Frank Packer's almost-successful Gretel II campaign in 1970.

Then our own Harold Cudmore in his prime may have been highly valued as a sparring partner to sharpen the starting skills of both defenders and challengers in several high profile America's Cup series. And when Michael Fay of New Zealand was much involved with his nation's campaigns, we were charmed that he made so much of his Irish background and connections.

But in 2021, with two countries that didn't even exist when it all began now facing up to go into battle in the America's Cup final in less than a week's time, we can only sit back and watch in wonder.

Published in W M Nixon
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Since 1970 it has been the tradition that Royal Ulster Yacht Club in Bangor on Belfast Lough, presents the Sir Thomas Lipton Memorial Cup to the America's Cup Challenger's Yacht Club. When the first Challenger series was run in that year, RUYC decided it would be a fitting tribute to Sir Thomas's memory to present a trophy to the winner of the challenger series. He had challenged five times with his yachts, all called Shamrock, through Royal Ulster as he was not admitted to the elite Royal Yacht Squadron until 1931, shortly before his death. It is said that both King Edward VII and King George V shared their interest in yachting with Lipton and enjoyed his company.
The club, therefore, commissioned the Sir Thomas Lipton Memorial Cup.

But how was this presentation going to be possible during the pandemic? Through a stroke of luck, it did go ahead on 24th February. That's where the man in Auckland came in. Member John Taylor and his wife Charlotte live in the city, and John agreed to present the Trophy to the Challenger; the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team entered through Circolo Della Vela Sicilia Yacht Club Sicily. John is well known in sailing circles in Belfast Lough, and pre-Covid regularly spent the summer in Bangor.

Lipton was of Irish parentage and lived in Glasgow. After humble beginnings and years of working in America, in 1870, he established Lipton's Market in that city. This enterprise was successful, and a chain of groceries followed. When his empire had grown to 300 stores, he entered the tea trade and established the Lipton brand.

Royal Ulster presented the Trophy to the Challenger; the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team entered through Circolo Della Vela Sicilia Yacht Club SicilyRoyal Ulster presented the Trophy to the Challenger; the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team entered through Circolo Della Vela Sicilia Yacht Club Sicily Photo: COR/Borlenghi

The first occasion the Trophy was presented was to Gretel II entered through Royal Perth Yacht Club. This was presented by Karl Smyth, Honorary Secretary RUYC at the Ida Lewis Yacht Club, Newport, Rhode Island. Since 1970 RUYC has presented the Trophy on 13 occasions. Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron are the current holders, and they were first presented with this Cup in 1995, then again in 2007, 2013 and 2017, so they have been the custodians for 18 years, making them the longest holder.

In recent months, RUYC Hon Secretary Garth Maxwell built a working relationship with Hayden Porter, CEO of RNZYS, who also sits on the America's Cup organising Committee in New Zealand. John and Charlotte Taylor are well known in both yacht clubs in Bangor, where pre-COVID-19, he regularly spent his summer months.

RNZYS hosted a small dinner on the night of the 24th February, sponsored by Prada, to facilitate the presentation of the Sir Thomas Lipton Cup by RUYC. The Ida Lewis Yacht Club also presented their Pell Cup, a trophy they have presented to the Challenger since 1958.

The small but exclusive guest list includes Francesco Longanesi Cattani - Prada, Agostino Randazzo-Commodore - Circolo Della Vela Sicilia Yacht Club, Max Sirena – Director and Skipper Luna Rosso Prada Pirelli, Aaron Young – Commodore, RNZYS, Hayden Porter – CEO, RNZYS, Simon Davidson – Commodore, Ida Lewis Yacht Club, and of course, John Taylor - all with their respective partners.

A letter of congratulations from HRH The Duke of Gloucester, Commodore of Royal Ulster, was also sent.

Published in America's Cup
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