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Emirates Team New Zealand sailed accurately and consistently to win the America's Cup Preliminary Regatta in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. They aced the Grand Final from start to finish, while Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli secured their spot in the Grand Final with another brilliant win in Race 7. The Closing Ceremony marked the end of the regatta, but it opened up a world-class venue for high-performance sailing that is both ambitious and visionary in its dedication to the sport. 

The Jeddah Yacht Club & Marina hosted the America's Cup. The event was a global first for the America's Cup in the Red Sea. 

Emirates Team New Zealand Photo: Ricardo PintoEmirates Team New Zealand Photo: Ricardo Pinto

Tom Slingsby, Skipper of NYYC American Magic, was really impressed with the event. He praised the hospitality, sailing, and venue, and believed that high-level events could come here in the future. Sir Ben Ainslie, Team Principle of INEOS Britannia, also echoed Tom's words and said that it was a phenomenal event with brilliant conditions. The hosts were truly wonderful and provided a better reception for the event. 

On the water, the fleet of AC40s executed the first two races of the day to decide the final spot in the Grand Final Match Race shoot out. Emirates Team New Zealand had already secured their place with another two wins and one second place. The Kiwis, however, weren't playing it safe. They seemed determined to stamp their mark on this Preliminary Regatta, garnering valuable race-craft and boat trim data in the conditions. 

For Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli, the Italians had issues with the boat's electronics suffering in the heat of the Red Sea. They entered the Match Race Final start-box late which gave the upper hand to Emirates Team New Zealand early on. The Kiwis capitalised on this to lead off the start line, but all around the course, it was desperately close until the very final windward mark. On a bear-away, the Italians got high, and with the rudder exiting the water, a nose-dive splashdown put paid to their race. 

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli competing off Jeddah Photo: Ricardo Pinto Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli competing off Jeddah Photo: Ricardo Pinto 

Emirates Team New Zealand capitalised on the situation, with Peter Burling, Nathan Outteridge, Blair Tuke and Andy Maloney making no mistakes on the downwind leg to cross the finish line and secure a popular regatta win. They made it count when it mattered most, kept the pressure on and the intensity high, and proved that this tight-knit group of talented sailors can handle the white-hot pressure of America's Cup racing. 

Emirates Team New Zealand capitalised on the situation, with Peter Burling, Nathan Outteridge, Blair Tuke and Andy MaloneyEmirates Team New Zealand capitalised on the situation, with Peter Burling, Nathan Outteridge, Blair Tuke and Andy Maloney Photo: Ricardo Pinto

Speaking afterwards, Peter Burling said; “Another awesome day of sailing. I feel like we made our lives a little bit harder than we needed to in that last race, but we've been sailing so well all week, haven't done too many things wrong and we're super happy to come away with the win here in Jeddah… It has been awesome here and a great showcase for our sport. To have a couple of breezy days here, it's been amazing.” 

Blair Tuke, Trimmer on Emirates Team New Zealand, summed up the regatta saying: “The last two days have shown what the AC40 class can be like, and we've enjoyed the close racing, beautiful conditions here, and it has been a great advertisement for our sport.” 

For Ruggero Tita, helmsman on Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli, the regatta was a super good experience, and they were happy about the result. But seeing the possibility of winning so close, they regretted not doing more.

America's Cup Preliminary Regatta Jeddah ResultsAmerica's Cup Preliminary Regatta Jeddah Results

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With NYYC American topping the final series standings after a simply stunning day at Vilanova i La Geltrú where they took their chances, front-ran like demons and sailed incredibly smoothly, it was all-on for the Match Race Grand Final against Emirates Team New Zealand. The Kiwis had been the team to beat all regatta. Their speed and execution of manoeuvres were widely viewed as the blueprint for AC40 sailing, and in foiling conditions, these two outstanding syndicates of the 37th America’s Cup would have been hard to split.

Unfortunately, with the seconds ticking down on the start, the wind shut down, and the first Emirates Team New Zealand splashed down to displacement, quickly followed by NYYC American Magic. Indeed, the Kiwis struggled even to start correctly, copping a number of penalties, but as both boats headed upwind, the battle was against the clock.

With a ten-minute time limit to reach the first gate and with the crews desperately trying every trick to try and coax their boat up on the foils, speeds dropped to around 5-7 knots, and the flow wouldn’t stick.

Having come into the final day of the first Preliminary Regatta of the 37th America’s Cup here in Vilanova i La Geltrú sitting in fifth place, it was an outside bet at best that NYYC American Magic could climb the leaderboard and challenge for a spot in the Match Race Grand Final.Having come into the final day of the first Preliminary Regatta of the 37th America’s Cup in Vilanova i La Geltrú sitting in fifth place, it was an outside bet at best that NYYC American Magic could climb the leaderboard and challenge for a spot in the Match Race Grand Final

The only option for the Race Committee was to abandon the Match Race Grand Final and thereby award the first Preliminary Regatta of the 37th America’s Cup to New York Yacht Club American Magic.

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The 37th America's Cup cycle experienced a delay due to a thunderstorm that swept past Vilanova i La Geltrú, the first Preliminary Regatta of The 37th America’s Cup.

The storm soaked the AC40 fleet and deprived the area of wind, compelling the Race Director to cancel sailing for the day.

Emirates Team New Zealand helmsman Nathan Outteridge agreed with the decision, stating, "It was good to give racing a chance. We all want to be here and we all want to race. It would have been nice if the weather was better."

Emirates Team New Zealand with their AC40 Te Kakahi back ashore in Vilanova i la Geltru Photo: James SomersetEmirates Team New Zealand with their AC40 Te Kakahi back ashore in Vilanova i la Geltru Photo: James Somerset

Outteridge described the conditions as "pretty wet" and said that the wind was only 4 or 5 knots by the time they got going. Iain Murray realized that it wasn't worth the risk and got the boats back to the dock after about 10 minutes.

Despite the setback, everyone anticipates tomorrow's racing, which is scheduled to take place between 15:30-17:30 local time / 01:30-03:30 NZT and is expected to be dryer. You can watch the race live or on demand on the America's Cup YouTube channel

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The French America's Cup Orient Express Racing Team made AC history on Tuesday, August 23rd) with the maiden sail of their new AC40 sailing boat.

The team launched their boat with its stunning blue and gold livery to match the sailing talent onboard, at the western end of the Port Vell in Barcelona.

The anniversary of the first running of the America’s Cup in 1851 was the perfect day to launch, and the team was supported by a round of applause from the shore crew, management, and supporters as they familiarized themselves with the launch protocols and rig settings. 

Despite the current weather pattern causing sub-normal breezes, the team was undeterred and splashed and locked in sails this morning. Quentin Delapierre and Kevin Peponnet took charge of the AC40, supported by trimmers/Flight Controllers Matthieu Vandamme and Jason Saunders. The team sailed on auto-pilot and began learning the nuances, dialling in a smidge of windward heel at times and playing with ride height. France is back at the top table and the significance of this moment is huge. 

Straight out of the box, the French sailors looked comfortable and had just enough breeze to maintain flight on the one-design set-up once released from the RIB. One Design sails were raised with the biggest J1 up front, and a fast tow out of the port and along the Barceloneta gave the crew plenty of time to dial into the foil settings before the tow line was spiked. The team's base at the Port Vell became an operational sailing base today, and this is only the beginning of a whole new chapter in French sailing.

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Thirty-one years ago, she carried the hopes of a nation, and no care and expense were too much for New Zealand's 1992 America's Cup Challenger.

But the highly-specialised boats which were developed at that time to fit in with the requirements of then-current America's Cup rule were useful for only one thing - racing for the Auld Mug, as five times AC Challenger Thomas Lipton of the Royal Ulster Yacht Club used to describe the much-fought-over piece of Victorian silverware.

"No longer a sporting icon, she has become an environmental hazard"

So if they were successful, the AC boats might be preserved in some Maritime Museum. But if they failed - as this boat did - it really should have been straight to the knacker's yard. However, it seems nobody in Auckland - where the America's Cup-holding Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron already has severe financial problems - had the hardness of heart to administer the coup de grace, and the boat had been left lying on a remote mooring for years, with everything that could be easily and usefully liberated long since gone.

Now the mooring has parted, and she has come ashore on a beach. No longer a sporting icon, she has become an environmental hazard. As one local resident put it, "I couldn't care less about America's Cup history (ouch!), but if this thing (ouch! again) isn't moved soon, we're gonna have a beach full of eternal kevlar rubbish, and there'll be real trouble for somebody".

More from Stuff in New Zealand here

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Ireland's first-ever challenge for the Youth and Women’s America’s Cup sailing championship has ended without an invitation to Barcelona this Autumn.

Ireland's bid was pipped at the post by an Australian syndicate, where two clubs in Sydney combined their efforts and resources. With this and their recent commitment to purchase an AC40, they won the final invite for the Championships.

Emerald Challenge, after announcing the intention to win a bid for an entry to the Women’s AC and the Youth AC back in November, had been 'feverishly working' on their Irish bid, as Afloat reported in January.

CEO & Skipper of Emerald Challenge Charles Cullen, along with the support of the Royal St. George Yacht Club, had been busy fundraising and building a campaign from the bottom up – no small task.

"It was with great disappointment to hear that our Emerald Challenge bid was unsuccessful. However, I am extremely proud. The team put everything into this project over the last few months", Cullen said in a statement.

"We weren’t naive to how big of a challenge this bid would be for a small country when against much bigger nations. Yet, we wanted to try and give it the best effort we could", he said.

He noted, "The experience introduced us to incredible individuals from many walks of life, and we have learnt so much, and I am truly humbled to have had the chance to chase such a dream". 

The Emerald Challenge was quickly taking shape. Over 40 of Ireland's top Youth Sailors from across the country applied to be part of the program and to be considered for selection to represent Ireland at one of the most prestigious and coveted championships in sailing.

Even though we failed - I am proud of where we got & what we achieved. Which was beyond initially thought possible. We received incredible feedback from those in America’s Cup committee - who were extremely impressed with what Ireland had to offer. I want to say a huge thanks to all those who put their belief in the project, in myself & all those who gave their time & advice. Going through this experience has highlighted the desire and opportunity for high-performance sailing in the country. Hopefully, this is only the start of a great journey for Ireland", Cullen said.

Royal St George foiling champion Charlie CullenRoyal St George foiling champion Charlie Cullen who headed the Emerald Challenge bid

As the ambitious bid process progressed, a Women’s AC programme was also added. Potential sponsors were approached and a fast-moving programme was underway.

The monetary scale of the bid was in the region of €1m, with plans for the charter of an AC40 to assist with training, along with an AC40 simulator, and a training and competition plan right up to the start date of the championships. 

With the calibre of sailors that had applied to be part of the programme, a very strong bid was submitted to empower Irish female and youth athletes, drive climate awareness, practice gender equality and ultimately inspire this and future generations of sailors.

Ronan Adams- Royal St. George Yacht Club Sailing Manager said "I am greatly disappointed to hear that our bid was unsuccessful. Nonetheless, the RSGYC are extremely proud of the Emerald Challenge bid and everyone involved".

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It has been exactly one year since the announcement that Barcelona had secured the venue rights as the host city for the 37th America’s Cup and following the signing of the agreement, work has been ongoing transforming the Port Vell and Port Olímpic areas ready to host the competing teams who are setting up bases and will be onsite from Summer 2023.

Port of Barcelona America's Cup venue Port of Barcelona America's Cup venue 

All around the Port Vell, building work is now at pace as the construction of the team’s bases takes shape. For the teams themselves, winter training has been an intense period with new boats launched, new design ideas coming to fruition and sailing techniques honed through long hours on the water.

Spreading the message of the America’s Cup across Catalonia and Spain and engaging with the widest possible audience is very much key to the mission of America’s Cup Events Limited and its CEO, Grant Dalton, is enthused by the opportunity of an event with such a broad audience. Speaking about selecting Barcelona, Catalonia and Spain as host, Dalton said: “It has been an honour to work with all the host agencies in both Barcelona and across Catalonia and Spain to bring the 37th America’s Cup back to such a vibrant European venue. One year on, and we are really moving forward across the whole aspect of the event delivery and it’s thrilling to see all the teams already operating at a super-high level as they test and evaluate their training platforms ahead of building their one new AC75 for the competition in 2024.”

He also advanced some of the plans of Emirates Team New Zealand, and the sporting structure that will be based in the Catalan capital over the next few months: "In July we will be sailing in Barcelona, as well as the rest of the teams". The Defender team is in charge of designing and organizing the next edition of the America's Cup through the subsidiary of America’s Cup Event, ACE Barcelona, which, according to its CEO, has as one of its most important challenges to involve the public, as happened with the 1992 Olympic Games.

The Defender was the first to receive and launch the exciting new AC40 yachts in Auckland that the Youth & Women’s America’s Cup will be competed onboard in a very strict one-design format that will reward the talent of the very best of the next generation of sailors in the world.

“The AC40 has proven to be the most exciting new foiling class in the world. AC37 is set to be sensational with Barcelona very much the beating heart of the competition but it’s also of great significance that we’ve been able to broaden the reach by announcing the Catalonian town of Vilanova i la Geltrú as the first pre-regatta in September 2023 on the road to the America’s Cup. With 18 months to go to the start of the Challenger Selection Series we are in a very good position to deliver an outstanding event,” he added.”

The team also re-launched their America’s Cup winning AC75 from 2021 ‘Te Rehutai’ and have two AC40’s to train on. Over the year, a total of five AC40’s have been delivered to the teams, with the sixth on its way from McConaghy’s to Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli in the coming weeks.

 America’s Cup Emirates Team New Zealand in training America’s Cup Emirates Team New Zealand in training

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With news that the first regatta of the Catalonian port of Vilanova i la Geltrú, is the Host Venue for the first Preliminary Regatta of the 37th America's Cup to take place in September this year, coincidentally Emirates Team New Zealand’s launched their 36th America’s Cup-winning yacht in Auckland.

Te Rehutai, is set to return to the waters of the Hauraki Gulf just over two years since the last time it was sailed for the final race of AC36.

The team’s AC75 emerged from the shed after a long hibernation on Monday for a series of rig and dock checks encompassing a mix of old and new. Visually sporting fresh new livery and technically presenting a valuable bridge between the 36th and 37th America’s Cup AC75 class rules.

“It's a really cool day for the team wheeling out Te Rehutai, which is obviously a very special boat, having won the America’s cup for us.” said Nick Burridge, Team Reliability and Maintenance Manager.

“The boat has been upgraded to meet the latest rule changes. So, we've got a bit of rig tuning, messing around with a few geometries before we put it on the water and run through a series of checks and things to make sure it'll be safe to push off the dock and go sailing when we get a favourable weather window.”

The Vilanova i la Geltrú event will take place over four days between September 14 -17 when the six international America's Cup syndicates - Emirates Team New Zealand (Defender), INEOS Britannia (Challenger of Record), Alinghi Red Bull Racing (SUI), American Magic, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli (ITA), and Orient Express Team (FRA) - will race each other in AC40 one-designs.

Vilanova i la Geltrú is situated 45 kilometres southwest of the America's Cup host city, Barcelona, in Spain's Catalonia region, and the event marks the official start of racing in the 37th America's Cup cycle. More on that story here from Cup Insider

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Time is the great enemy of any America’s Cup campaign, so February and the first half of March have been a busy time with a noticeable ramping up of the intensity all around.

The northern hemisphere winter has been cold and unpredictable, whilst New Zealand has faced a poor summer of rain and storms. Nonetheless, the on-water hours have been racked up around the world, three new AC40s have been commissioned, and Emirates Team New Zealand have been getting in some two-boat testing and race training.

Here’s your latest recap of everything going down in this America’s Cup cycle…

Orient Express Racing Team

The beginning of February saw the announcement that the French are back in the America’s Cup with Orient Express Team led by Stéphan Kandler and Bruno Dubois. The team will be buying a design package from Emirates Team New Zealand, and on the water, the hard-driving Quentin Delapierre will skipper, Thierry Douillard will coach, whilst Franck Cammas will advise as Head of Performance and Design/Sailor Co-ordinator. Benjamin Muyl has been appointed as Principal Designer with Antoine Carraz supporting as Technical Director. Orient Express Team will be operational in Barcelona in Summer 2023 with an AC40 in build at McConaghy’s.

NYYC American Magic

The de-commissioning of ‘Patriot’ the famous American Magic warhorse AC75 from AC36 was done in some style. On the penultimate day of sailing, the much-modified rocket-ship was hitting 50 knots on the bear-aways and was given a final run-out on the 5th February covering over 100 nautical miles and welcomed back to base with red, white and blue smoke flares. Out with the old and in with the new though, as the team took delivery of their first new AC40 ‘America’ ahead of launching and maiden sail at the beginning of March. A team very much on the up, their winter in Pensacola Bay has been highly profitable with an assured confidence coursing through the team, now with one eye on the logistics of a move to Barcelon this summer.

INEOS Britannia

A tricky start to the month for the British with the capsize and turtling of their prototype LEQ12 ‘T6’ on the 8th February that caused extensive damage. The ‘INEOS bounce’ though was quick, with the almost immediate launch on the 15th February of the team’s AC40 ‘Athena’ that had been in the shed since October whilst the concentration had been on T6. With foiling talent to burn and deep resources all over, INEOS Britannia’s sailors barely missed a beat in getting ‘Athena’ up to speed and rocketing around the Bay of Palma. The silver-lining for T6 was that it was due an extensive upgrade just before the capsize so any upset to the programme was mitigated.

Emirates Team New Zealand

A month of two-boat testing for the Kiwis, as they continue on their path towards AC37. The established helms of Nathan Outteridge and Pete Burling began to be pushed hard in the team’s LEQ12 over short-course racing by newcomers Liv Mackay and Leo Takahashi in the One-Design AC40 overseen by Josh Junior. A new mainsail head arrangement on the LEQ12 plus some modifications to the port anhedral foil were on display for the shared recon team, whilst the announcement that ‘Te Rehutai’ the team’s Cup-winning boat from AC36 is will very soon to be back out on Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf.

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli

The Italians continue to impress, training out of Cagliari in Sardinia aboard their LEQ12, the sailing team look the most assured on the water and confident in their development programme that has seen several foil upgrades through February. Marco Gradoni and Ruggero Tita have both enjoyed significant helming time, rotating in for Francesco Bruni and Jimmy Spithill with ease. Over short courses, the Italians have looked imperious with dynamite technique and boat-handling. In February, the team ran a training camp for the next generation of Italian Youth & Women, sailing Persico 69Fs and will take delivery of their first AC40 in March 2023. The Challenger to watch for sure.

Alinghi Red Bull Racing

February 15th saw a landmark moment for the America’s Cup with the launch and maiden sail of Alinghi Red Bull Racing’s AC40 becoming the first team to sail the new class in Barcelona. Meanwhile, BoatZero went back into the shed for considerable deck modifications to reduce crew numbers from eleven to eight and introduce aero cyclors into the mix that appeared at the beginning of March, but what we saw was a step-change in the sailing team as they took charge of the AC40 and had it flying almost immediately. Just six days later, on the 21st February, the Swiss joined the capsize club as the sailors pushed harder and harder to find the limits of the AC40 having got loose on a gybe. Being based at the venue, the highly focused and settled Swiss are looking better and better with each passing month.

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All of the America's Cup teams have had an extremely busy January due to their training regimens being notably more intense. Data gathering and analysis are more crucial than ever, with only a few months till sign-off for the AC75 designs. Here, we examine all of the teams and significant advancements.

Emirates Team New Zealand

The Defenders (pictured top) had a busy January as they continued to test their anhedral full-span port foil and refined the sail and rig system controls on their AC40 (AC40-1) in LEQ12 development mode. Leo Takahashi and Liv Mackay started serving as captains at the end of the month as Sam Meech and Marcus Hansen alternated with the senior testing team. The Kiwis were testing new talent with an eye toward the Youth & Women's America's Cup. As the training programme moved into a new phase, the team set up two AC40s for the first time in early February.

INEOS Britannia

INEOS Britannia Team day 19, Sailing with T6 (LEQ12) Photo: Ugo Fonollá INEOS Britannia Team day 19, Sailing with T6 (LEQ12) Photo: Ugo Fonollá 

The Challenger of Record has been very busy getting their LEQ12 prototype, code-named "T6," into full data-gathering mode while wintering in Palma. Midway through January, new sails were installed, and thanks to the team's highly technical, data-driven approach to this cycle, communication between engineers and sailors have improved. Iain Jensen and Bleddyn Mon have been instrumental in this. Although in slow motion, they "joined" the capsize club in late January. The crew intends to launch and sail its AC40 (AC40-2) that was delivered in October in February.

BoatZero - Alinghi Red Bull Racing Photo: Alex CarabiBoatZero - Alinghi Red Bull Racing Photo: Alex Carabi

Under the cautious eye of Sailing Team Advisor Pietro Sibello, the Swiss have been making progress on the sea since they set sail from Barcelona. January marked a turning point for the team on the water with a notable increase in energy and desire to push BoatZero harder in straight lines and through manoeuvres after spending four weeks in the workshop over Christmas installing a new self-tacking jib system.

American Magic boat Patriot (B2) (AC75 Class) Sailing inside Pensacola Bay in foggy conditions - Florida. Photo: Paul ToddAmerican Magic boat Patriot (B2) (AC75 Class) Sailing inside Pensacola Bay in foggy conditions - Florida. Photo: Paul Todd

The NYYC American Magic is at the top of the list for time spent on the water, thanks to numerous hours and practically endless manoeuvres. The cyclor system was re-geared in January to enhance the hydraulics' power output, and the major technological advancement was the removal of the mainsheet ram from the clew to lie on a carrier mounted on a secondary track across the cockpit. This resulted in a more organized mainsail clew arrangement, and the Americans had some of the AC75's sharpest trim.

Luna Rossa Prada PirelliLuna Rossa Prada Pirelli Photo: Ivo Rovira

The Italians, who seem rock solid in flight and precise through manoeuvres as they sail their LEQ12 prototype at race pace, day after day, had been training hard in Cagliari throughout January. This fully sensored boat has undergone a relentless data collecting campaign and was declared to have a new port foil and a new starboard foil arm. In addition to Francesco Bruni and Jimmy Spithill, Marco Gradoni and Ruggera Tita have been taking more and more turns behind the wheel. The Italians' ability to de-power in stronger conditions by inverting the top of the mainsail has brought sail design into sharp focus. The squad held a week-long camp in Persico 69Fs at the end of January.

Orient Express TeamOrient Express Team

As Afloat reported, the French are back in the America's Cup. It's a very welcome return with the announcement that the Accor Hotel Group, using its 'Orient Express' brand has committed to K-Challenge, for a syndicate to be named the 'Orient Express Team.' The French have brought in big names such as skipper Quentin Delapierre, ocean racing legend Franck Cammas as Head of Performance, experienced naval architect Benjamin Muyl and Antoine Carraz as Technical Director. The team, led by Stéphan Kandler and Bruno Dubois will benefit from a latest generation technology package provided by the Defender, Emirates Team New Zealand to allow Orient Express Team to gain time and start on equal terms with its opponents.

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