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On Thursday, May 6, the New York Yacht Club submitted to the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron in Auckland, New Zealand, a challenge for the 37th America’s Cup. The challenge was accompanied by a draft Protocol for the regatta, which would see the Cup Match take place in New Zealand during early 2024, utilising the AC75 class.

“The America’s Cup is at a pivotal point in its 170-year history,” says Christopher J. Culver, Commodore of the New York Yacht Club. “The competition for the 36th edition was thrilling, and Emirates Team New Zealand, representing the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, was a worthy winner. However, the New York Yacht Club, as the original trustee of the event and a participant in the most recent edition, has serious concerns about the future of this great competition. The cost of a competitive campaign, the lack of continuity in the class and the inability to plan beyond the current cycle have combined to create a prohibitive barrier to entry, which has manifested in the dwindling number of challengers and public interest. While we await further details on the location, timing and conditions for the 37th America’s Cup, we want to emphatically signal our enthusiasm for a multi-challenger event in 2024.

“Our proposed Protocol for the 37th America’s Cup is the product of months of work and countless conversations with America’s Cup stakeholders, including current and former challengers and defenders,” continues Culver. “It includes the tools necessary to improve the long-term commercial viability and global reach of the competition while remaining true to the Deed of Gift and to the spirit of one of international sport’s oldest competitions. Other established teams that have similar views on the future of the competition.”

New York Yacht Club Draft Protocol 

The draft Protocol put forward by the New York Yacht Club features several key concepts:

  1. A multi-event schedule—time and location—for the next four America’s Cup regattas, which will enable teams, corporate partners and media to plan in advance, think beyond single campaigns and maximize revenue opportunities
  2. Enhanced and independent event management via the creation of an America’s Cup Board of Governors, which will provide continuity and impartial oversight
  3. Consistency in design, starting with the confirmation of the AC75 as the class for the 37th America’s Cup
  4. Stronger crew nationality rules to draw more interest and to promote friendly competition between foreign countries
  5. Cost-control measures; a predictable, and shorter, three-year cycle; consistency in the platform; an increase in one-design components; and a limit of one new boat per Cup cycle, all of which will make the America’s Cup more accessible and more sustainable.

“By issuing this challenge, along with a Protocol, we are presenting a path forward for the event, one that will provide it with the tools to thrive in the modern international sports marketplace,” says Culver.

The New York Yacht Club won the America’s Cup in 1851, created the recurring event in 1870, and successfully defended the Cup 26 times. In 1983, the Cup was won by the Royal Perth Yacht Club. The New York Yacht Club remained active as a challenger in 1987, 2000 and 2003 before stepping away from the competition. With the creation of the American Magic syndicate, the Club returned to the America’s Cup in 2021. The end result was not what the team or Club hoped for, but the inspired response of the membership to the campaign encouraged the Club’s flag officers to consider another challenge.

“Our challenge is inclusive,” says Culver. “I’ve have spoken with representatives of both the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and the Royal Yacht Squadron to assure them that New York Yacht Club is ready and willing to come to the table to help bridge gaps, foster a transparent discussion to adopt some or all of the key components of our draft Protocol and, ultimately, create the framework for a multi-challenger 37th America’s Cup and a sustainable future for the event.”

Published in America's Cup
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Emirates Team New Zealand has confirmed that the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron has accepted a Notice of Challenge for the 37th America’s Cup (AC37) from the Royal Yacht Squadron Racing, represented by INEOS TEAM UK, which will act as the Challenger of Record for AC37.

“The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron has received and accepted a challenge for the 37th America’s Cup from our long-standing British friends at Royal Yacht Squadron Racing.” Said Aaron Young – RNZYS Commodore. “It is great to once again have the RYSR involved, given they were the first yacht club that presented this trophy over 170 years ago, which really started the legacy of the America’s Cup. Along with Emirates Team New Zealand, we look forward to working through the details of the next event with them. “

A Protocol Governing AC37 will be published within eight months including the provisions outlined in this release.

  • It has been agreed the AC75 Class shall remain the class of yacht for the next two America’s Cup cycles, and agreement to this is a condition of entry.
  • The teams will be restricted to building only one new AC75 for the next event.
  • A single Event Authority will be appointed to be responsible for the conduct of all racing and the management of commercial activities relating to AC37.
  • The Defender and the Challenger of Record, will be investigating and agreeing a meaningful package of campaign cost reduction measures including measures to attract a higher number of Challengers and to assist with the establishment of new teams.
  • A new Crew Nationality Rule will require 100% of the race crew for each competitor to either be a passport holder of the country of the team’s yacht club as at 19 March 2021 or to have been physically present in that country (or, acting on behalf of such yacht club in Auckland, the venue of the AC36 Events) for two of the previous three years prior to 18 March 2021. As an exception to this requirement, there will be a discretionary provision allowing a quota of non-nationals on the race crew for competitors from “Emerging Nations”.
  • There are a number of different options but it is intended that the Venue for the Match will be determined within six months and the dates of racing announced in the Protocol, if not before.

“The 37th America’s Cup effectively starts the moment the team crossed the finish line on Wednesday afternoon,” said Emirates Team New Zealand CEO Grant Dalton.

“It is very exciting to have a new Challenger of Record to continue to build the scale of the America’s Cup globally. The AC75’s and the unprecedented broadcast reach of the exciting racing from Auckland’s stunning Waitemata harbour have really put Auckland and the America’s Cup at the forefront of international sport.”

Published in America's Cup
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Once again Emirates Team New Zealand has entered the history books and won the America’s Cup for New Zealand for the fourth time.

On day 7 of the 36th America’s Cup, the Kiwis scored the 7th point they needed to raise the Auld Mug in front of thousands of spectators.

A spectacular achievement for Emirates Team New Zealand and the yacht club they represent, the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron. Another confirmation that – in sailing – the Southern hemisphere country of 5 million people can punch way above its weight.

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli, fought until the last race and the team showed talent and experience throughout the whole event and their story is far from over.

On day 7 of the 36th America’s Cup, the Kiwis scored the 7th point they neededOn day 7 of the 36th America’s Cup, the Kiwis scored the 7th point they needed

Emirates Team New Zealand beat Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli

Race 10
Start: 1630
Port: ITA
Stbd: NZL
Course: A
Axis: 040
Length: 1.85nm
Current: 0.3 knots @ 352
Wind: 10 knots 065 degrees

Winner: Emirates Team New Zealand 0.46

With the home team just one win away from the 36th America’s Cup, if the sense of occasion wasn’t producing enough tension ahead of the seventh day of racing, the weather was adding extra pressure, teasing all as the sea breeze appeared reluctant to develop.

As start time drew closer there was little sign of the breeze, forcing a postponement. But then, as the clock counted down the breeze started to build and after a 30min delay Race 10 was underway.

Just as Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli entered the pre-start area helmsman Jimmy Spithill talked about wanting the right-hand side of the course, a quick clip from the onboard comms that gave us a clue to the strategy and play that was about to unfold.

Emirates Team New Zealand also wanted the right-hand side of the course and headed out to the right-hand side of the pre-start area and tacked just before the boundary to stay high.

As both came back towards the line Emirates Team New Zealand had started to windward of Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli, coming in slightly late to the line and tacking off onto port straight away to take the right-hand side of the course. Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli found themselves in a right-hand shift and were unable to tack across. The Kiwis were able to lock into the right-handed breeze and gained the early advantage.

As the pair came together the Kiwis tacked in front of Luna Rossa forcing the Italians to tack back onto starboard and allowing themselves to go back to the right-hand side of the course. A strong tactic following a solid and confident start.

As the pair came back together for the second time the Italians had made distance and ducked the Kiwis as they crossed. Luna Rossa were now able to get to the right-hand side of the course.

As the breeze fluctuated the key was to get into phase with the breeze.

Around gate 1 it was Emirates Team New Zealand that led by 7 seconds taking the right-hand mark while Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli took the left-hand mark. A split was what the Italians wanted if they were to find a passing lane on the downwind leg. The Kiwi task was to close down the opportunities. Downwind, having swapped sides the Kiwis were sailing at 41 knots to the Italians’ 39 knots but as the pair came into gate 2 the game was still close as Luna Rossa trailed by just 9 seconds.

Meanwhile, Emirates Team New Zealand headed out to the right-hand side of the course, protecting their position whenever required. But as the second beat unfolded the Kiwis started to stretch out their lead, increasing the distance to around 300m on the water.

By now they were free to choose the mark that they wanted at gate 2 taking the left-hand side and leading by 27seconds. Luna Rossa split once again taking the right-hand mark in an effort to find a different and quicker route down leg 4.
But even if they were to find more breeze, the Kiwis were sailing consistently quicker and had pulled the distance out to over 500 m. By gate 4 that had translated into a lead of 37 seconds as they rounded the left-hand mark to head out to the left-hand side of the course.

Behind them, Luna Rossa took the right-hand mark and did the more difficult move to get out to the right-hand side of the course and continue to keep out of phase with their opponents. The third upwind leg offered little in the way of a comeback for the Italians. All they could hope for now was for their opponents to make a mistake.

Through the last gate, Emirates Team New Zealand took the right-hand mark rounding 49 seconds ahead as they headed off on the last leg of what would surely be the last race in the 36th America’s Cup.

A race and a win that would see them take the oldest sporting trophy in international sport. After 10 races and a scoreline of 7:3 the America’s Cup was New Zealand’s once again.

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

Published in America's Cup
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Emirates Team New Zealand move within one win of retaining the Auld Mug after day 6 of the 36th America’s Cup in Auckland Harbour.

The first race of the day was without any doubt the tightest match raced so far, with Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli fighting neck to neck until the Defender took the lead on the penultimate leg and sailed to a 6:3 score.

Race 10 was due to start at 5:45 pm but a last-minute wind shift forced the Race Committee to call off the match and the teams push the stop button one more time until tomorrow at 4:15, but the end might not be around the corner just yet.

Emirates Team New Zealand beat Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli

Race 9
Start: 1645
Port: NZL
Stbd: ITA
Course: C
Axis: 266
Length: 1.86nm
Current: 0.1 knots @ 137
Wind: 12-13 knots 255 degrees
Winner: Emirates Team New Zealand 30 seconds

Today had a very different feel. Today was the first day that the America’s Cup could be won. Today was the chance for the Italians to redress the balance after a day in which they had lost two races after winning the starts and maintaining their advantage for the first few legs. Today was the day that Emirates Team New Zealand could take another step towards winning the Cup.

Emirates Team New Zealand entered cleanly across Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli who took their time to gybe around and head out to the right-hand side of the pre-start zone. The Kiwis were first to get there, gybing around while the Italians tacked before diving back down to the Kiwis.

Plenty of weaving followed as both boats tried to slow down on their approach to the start line. With the greater wind speeds the pre-start zone was feeling smaller.

The start was even, both on starboard but a big big gap between the two as they charged out to the left-hand boundary at 30 knots.

A critical tack was coming – could Luna Rossa get up to the Kiwis and cast dirty air on them? The Italians’ height mode was working as they eventually forced the Kiwis to tack off while they headed for the right-hand lay line for the top gate who had to put in two tacks to get around the top gate plus. As they came together the Kiwis dipped the Italians’ transom to take the right-hand mark of Gate 1, while Luna Rossa took the left-hand mark, leading by just a second.

As the pair split on the downwind leg the Kiwis seemed to get a better gust of breeze and managed to cross in front of the ItaliansAs the pair split on the downwind leg the Kiwis seemed to get a better gust of breeze and managed to cross in front of the Italians

As the pair split on the downwind leg the Kiwis seemed to get a better gust of breeze and managed to cross in front of the Italians when they came back together a lead change followed. Now they had swapped sides, gone to the full width of the course and were about to come back at each other for another cross. This time it was the Italians who were in front, another lead change. By the bottom gate a perfectly executed gybe by the Italians protected their position and forced the Kiwis to follow them through Gate 2.

As the second beat continued the battle remained close but by the top at Gate 3 the Italians had protected their lead once again. The same was true of Leg 4 with yet more close racing. At the bottom Luna Rossa LR rounded the right-hand mark of Gate 4 and were 3 seconds ahead as Emirates Team New Zealand took the left-hand mark. The Italians had released their cover on the Kiwis, although they retained the starboard tack advantage. When they came back together Luna Rossa was still ahead.

But the big change came towards the top of Leg 5 when the pair came together once againBut the big change came towards the top of Leg 5 when the pair came together once again

But the big change came towards the top of Leg 5 when the pair came together once again. Now it was the turn of the Kiwis to come back in on starboard. But Luna Rossa were just ahead as they crossed and tacked in front of the Kiwis forcing the defenders to tack back to the right-hand side of the course. Was this another risk? The Italians would be on port tack when they came back.

But there was trouble in store as the breeze shifted right, benefitting the Kiwis.

By the time the pair came back for Gate 5 Team New Zealand had taken the lead, rounding the left-hand mark ahead by 18 seconds.

One leg to the finish with a distance of 400 m between the pair, this was a big distance to make up for the Italians with so little runway left. As Emirates Team New Zealand came into the finish they had taken Race 9 by 29 seconds in the closing stages of the race.

A dramatic and closely fought race to place Emirates Team New Zealand within just one win to take the 36th America’s Cup.

Update from Emirates Team New Zealand (after Race 9):

Both teams headed out to course C onto the Hauraki Gulf today with the same game plan. Keeping it simple - and just focusing on the next race. In what has become a roller coaster of extreme emotions for everyone involved in this 36th America’s Cup presented by Prada, that may sound like a tough call - but for the Defender and Challenger, it is all about focusing on the next move, the next call, and then the next move after that.

For the eleven athletes onboard Emirates Team New Zealand as they headed out on the water, the last leg of the race today is light-years away. Performing in such a pressure cooker environment is normal for the Te Rehutai crew, who thrive in the cauldron of America’s Cup, Olympic and round the world races, forging nerves of steel and an absolute reliance on the group around them. As flight controller Blair Tuke commented: “To turn that round in Race 8 was just massive for the team.” With two wins from two races yesterday, Emirates Team New Zealand were looking to pile the pressure on their opposition - one race at a time.

After a delay in racing waiting for the breeze to stabilise for Race Course C, there were elbows out on the water by Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli, and though it was close, they led up leg one, protecting their lead at every opportunity and using their high mode in the critical and close moments. Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli were first around the first windward gate, but it was tight - just one second separating the boats, who rounded and accelerated downwind at 43 knots. The Italians were just ahead on leg 2, and with Emirates Team New Zealand close behind, an aggressive match racing move by Jimmy Spithill on board Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli at the bottom of the course reminded the crew onboard Te Rehutai this race was far from over, as they were pushed out wide, rounding the bottom gate 100 metres behind the Italians.

As we saw yesterday in Race 8, nothing is certain in this event, and with changeable weather conditions forecast to arrive, Peter Burling and his team held on, staying in the fight, chipping away and reducing the deficit to 78 metres. Again Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli rounded the top gate in front, doubling their lead to 142 metres on leg 4, but they knew they had a fight on their hands as tension in the voices of co-helmsman Spithill and Bruni revealed. Splitting at the bottom gate, Emirates Team New Zealand headed back up leg 5, and were tacked on the middle of the course, and so peeled off to look for clear air on the right-hand side of the course - then gained from a right hand wind shift which was the game-changer in this race. For Burling and his team, this allowed them to accelerate towards the final top gate, but for the Italians it was simply not what they wanted, as they were headed by the shift – and you could hear it in Jimmy Spithill’s voice. For the crew onboard Te Rehutai, this was the opportunity they were looking for – and they seized it, rounding the final top gate in front, turning down towards the finish line at 41 knots, quickly extending out to a 500 metre lead to take Race 9 by 30 seconds, and lead the regatta 6-3.

For co-helmsman onboard Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Jimmy Spithill, it was another tough moment, with just two words for his crew as he crossed the line. “Sorry boys.” His co helm Francesco Bruni expanded on their race loss. “Yes unfortunately, we did let it get away – but chin up and keep fighting, as we know we can win races. No surprise we played very elbows out today, particularly at the bottom of Leg 2. They were overlapped behind us and so couldn’t gybe, so we stretched out a little there. It was a fantastic race and no big regrets. No change to the game plan, its about picking the right shifts at the right time.”

After the win, Emirates Team New Zealand helm Peter Burling remained calm and focused on the job at hand. “It was a pretty tight race and one little right shift decided it for us. I think we did a good job at the start – it's good fun racing and great to be back on course C, and having a really good battle with a good team. We will keep fighting and keep trying to win races. This team has been in this position before, and so it about keeping improving, keep moving forwards. That race was close, and so we know we are going to have to sail well in the next one.”

With weather conditions shifting across the racecourse as the time limit expired, the race committee were unable to run the second race of the day, and so we go into tomorrow with Emirates Team New Zealand leading the event 6-3. With the winner the first to win 7 races, tomorrow will see a massive day for both teams out on the Hauraki gulf in this extraordinary 36th America’s Cup presented by Prada.

Published in America's Cup
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Day 5 of the America’s Cup was without a doubt the most heart-stopping of the 36th America’s Cup. After four days of deadlock and races decided 5 minutes after the start, today Emirates Team New Zealand put 2 points on the scoreboard and took a 2 win lead over Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli.

For the first time in this America’s Cup, both races saw lead changes. Unsteady and light winds played a big role in the change of fortunes as being on the foils meant the difference between leading and loosing.

With the scoreboard at 5:3, the deadlock is broken and tomorrow is going to be a key day. Will the Kiwis keep the momentum and win again or will the Italians fight back and push the Cup into a seventh day? The question will be answered tomorrow at 4:15 pm NZT.

Emirates Team New Zealand put 2 points on the scoreboardEmirates Team New Zealand put 2 points on the scoreboard

Race 7 - Emirates Team New Zealand beat Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli

Start: 1615
Port: ITA
Stbd: NZL
Course: E
Axis: 027
Length: 1.9nm
Current: 0.1 knots @ 137
Wind: 9-12knots 025-050 degrees
Winner: Emirates Team New Zealand – 0:58

As the clock counted down to Race 7 the breeze was well within limits, hovering between 9-12 knots. But the direction wasn’t as steady with a variation over around 25 degrees and phasing around every five minutes. Could this provide the passing opportunities that have been lacking in the previous races?

As Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli entered the pre-start zone from the left-hand side Emirates Team New Zealand were quick to get onto their tail as both headed out to the right hand side of the zone. As the pair came back towards the start line both were early, Luna Rossa were well above the line while Team New Zealand stayed low.

In the closing seconds Luna Rossa had more speed as they crossed the line and rolled over the Kiwis who tried to luff to hold them back. But the move failed. In an identical start to the first race of the 36th America’s Cup the roles had been reversed it was now the Kiwis who were on the back foot. Just one and a half minutes into the race and the Italians had a 150 m lead, sailing high and climbing onto the Kiwi track. They forced Emirates Team New Zealand to tack off onto starboard. But the left was paying and the Kiwis benefitted, plus they were going quickly. Within another minute they had halved the distance between them and the Italians down to 70 m.
Coming into Gate 1 both boats took the right-hand mark and smoked down the first downwind leg, taking their time to gybe. The distance between the two was now just 50 m, but you didn’t need the numbers to see the pressure that the Defenders were putting on the Challengers be it upwind or down. The big change came after the downwind leg.

Luna Rossa led by 10 seconds and headed out to the left leaving the Kiwis to round the same mark but tacked off to head over to the right instantly after rounding the mark. By the time the pair came back together with the Kiwis on starboard and Luna Rossa on port, the Italians were forced to tack underneath. This allowed the Kiwis to take control of the beat. A minute later and Emirates Team New Zealand were fully in charge rounding Gate 3 19 seconds ahead.

At the bottom of the second downwind leg they had drawn out their lead to 29 seconds. And from there, the margin simply grew leg by leg as Emirates Team New Zealand took a win crossing the finishing line 58 seconds ahead of Luna Rossa.

Penalty after penalty for the Italians as they sailed through the boundary, not that it made much difference. Getting back onto the foils was key.Penalty after penalty for the Italians as they sailed through the boundary, not that it made much difference. Getting back onto the foils was key.

Race 8 - Emirates Team New Zealand beat Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli

Start: 1715
Port: NZL
Stbd: ITA
Course: E
Axis: 001
Length: 1.89nm
Current: 0.1 knots @ 151
Wind 9 knots 000 degrees
Winner Emirates Team New Zealand: 3:55 

So far in the 36th America’s Cup presented by PRADA neither team had won two races in a row, so was this the moment that the game changed?

The left-hand shift that had been present in the closing stages of the first race of the day had persisted forcing regatta director Iain Murray to shift the course axis to match. The breeze had also dropped slightly and was now down to 9 knots.

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli was using a larger jib than Emirates Team New Zealand, would this pay off in the lighter breeze?

Into the zone, the Italians tried to get onto the Kiwis’ tail but had a slow gybe. The Kiwis were off the hook momentarily.

As they turned to head back Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli were ahead and to leeward. Seconds later it was an even start with the Italians at the pin end. Sailing high they managed to bounce off the Kiwis, forcing them to tack over to the right. If the Italians wanted the left they had now got it to themselves.

The breeze was staying low, this was a different race to race 7.

When the pair came back together with Luna Rossa coming in from the left they were ahead of Emirates Team New Zealand, the margin 60m.

As the pair crossed they swapped sides of the course. With the breeze now down to around 8-9 knots, keeping the pace on and avoiding costly manoeuvres was now key.

At the second cross, the Italians were still ahead and had extended their lead.

Towards the top of the course, both boats had congregated towards the right-hand side of the course. The breeze was still showing signs of remaining at 8-9 knots.

As Luna Rossa passed through Gate 1 they were 16secs ahead as they took the right-hand mark. The Kiwis took the same mark. Seconds later during the gybe, the Italian jib looked like it couldn’t be trimmed properly and was over eased for some time costing them distance all the while. Within seconds the race had closed up but there was further drama to come as the breeze dropped and the Kiwis splashed down leaving them dead in the water.

Luna Rossa appeared to have got their jib back under control and were still at speed, hurtling into Gate 2 doing 34 knots to the Kiwis’ 14 knots.

As the Italians passed through the gate they were almost a leg ahead and while the next pass that came was close, the boats were on different legs, the Italians almost 2 km ahead.

By the time the Kiwis rounded the bottom gate they were 4:08 ahead.

But at Gate 3 there were problems for the Italians. The breeze had dropped further and their last tack onto the layline dropped them off their foils. They managed to creep around the right-hand mark and slide out to the right-hand side of the course. But there was no breeze here and the Italians failed to get back up onto their foils.

Then came the news that the race would be shortened to 5 legs, finishing at gate 5, the final upwind leg.

Meanwhile, Emirates Team New Zealand were still flying and hauling back lost distance. The breeze was so light that the Italians had not been able to make any progress downwind, adding to their problems.

Emirates Team New Zealand managed to pull off a clean tack and stay on the foils they were hauling in distance fast. Now the tables were turning, the Kiwis still flying, the Italians stuck in the water and heading to the boundary as the Kiwis overtook their opponents.

Penalty after penalty for the Italians as they sailed through the boundary, not that it made much difference. Getting back onto the foils was key.

As the Kiwis continued to sail at speed each gybe from here was crucial to maintain their lead. And while at the bottom of the course there was still a reasonable amount of breeze, there was still a tricky upwind leg to come. But Emirates Team New Zealand managed it perfectly and while the Italians got back onto their foils, they were now over 2 km behind with just over a leg to go.

And from there nothing changed as Emirates Team New Zealand won the second race of the day.

America's Cup America's Cup results

Racing continues tomorrow

The Mental Game

Update from Emirates Team New Zealand as they go two points ahead

After a day of no racing yesterday, both teams re-set for Races 7 & 8 today on three wins apiece, and with the pressure building to break the deadlock in the 36th America’s Cup, the mental game becomes more intense. For the eleven athletes racing onboard Te Rehutai they thrive in these situations, and clear thinking and staying cool under extreme pressure is their trademark. As Emirates Team New Zealand helmsman Peter Burling calmly commented before leaving the dock, “Every day is important and every race is incredibly important - it is a very tight event, where we are learning a lot all the time. So it really is about going out and executing what we know.”

RACE 7 With a stronger breeze forecast out on racecourse E today, the on-water game of chess featuring move and subtle countermove, particularly in the key pre-start area will be significant. Competitor and coach, spectator and supporter - all are feeling the tension building. This is after all, the toughest prize in sailing, the 36th America’s Cup presented by Prada - it is not for the faint-hearted.

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli entered the start box first, and as we have seen in all the pre-starts, headed to the right hand boundary. Pulling back in they sailed high, rolled down, then slid to windward and crossed the line slightly to windward and faster than Emirates Team New Zealand.

Rounding the top mark first by 8 seconds, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli were looking to extend - and this they did by 2 seconds, but it was close, and after rounding the bottom gate headed out to the left hand side of the course. Over to the right hand side Emirates Team New Zealand sensed a right hand shift on leg three and they used it, accelerating with their smaller and flatter jib they started the fight back. Half way up leg three, after being allowed into clean air, we saw Te Rehutai light the turbo’s and shift up a gear, coming back in from the right hand side and sailing over the top of the Italians. For the rest of that leg, the key was cover tacking on Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli leaving options open for Burling and crew whilst shutting them down for the chasing boat. Leg 4 saw Emirates Team New Zealand simply light-up the boat and accelerate ahead. Turning a 10 second deficit into a 19 second lead, they used the width of the course to extend. A left hand wind shift made legs 5 & 6 easier to defend, and Emirates Team New Zealand stayed focused leading by 900 metres, and winning Race 7 by 58 seconds.

Asked how big a deal it was for the team to win Race 7, Te Rehutai skipper Peter Burling said “every race is big - we are pleased with our learning. We almost got them off the start – it was close, then we just kept digging deep and gave ourselves an opportunity, it was great to get a pass – and then to extend was pretty pleasing as well.”

RACE 8 Featured the biggest moments of the 36th America’s Cup presented by Prada so far – and one of the most astonishing races in recent America’s Cup history. Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli did well at the start then sailed high forcing Emirates Team New Zealand away to the unfavoured right side of the course. Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli stretched it out with their bigger jib as the breeze got lighter. With the Italians ahead on Leg 2, Emirates Team New Zealand were gaining, but halfway down the leg gybed in bad air then dropped off their foils – seemingly a disaster for Burling and his crew.

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli sailed away at 33 knots extending their lead to 2,300 metres as the Cup defenders struggled in displacement mode - but in these light and patchy conditions nothing was certain. What followed was a testament to the resilience, skill and patience of the entire crew on Te Rehutai. Focusing on boat speed, they slowly accelerated, eased the boat out of the water, and kept it that way – fully aware that one mistake would mean painful minutes back in displacement mode trying to recover.

Ahead by 4 minutes and eight seconds on leg 3, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli tacked high on the course, and in the soft conditions struggled – then dropped off their foils and that was the beginning of the end for the Challengers in Race 8. Struggling to build speed in the patchy conditions they rounded the top gate in displacement mode at 6 knots then sailed out of the course boundaries receiving multiple penalties for doing so, trying everything they could to accelerate. Suddenly it was game on again as Emirates Team New Zealand tacked back up the course in hot pursuit at 22 knots knowing full well the risks of one mistake as the conditions softened even further.

With the breeze dropping, the race committee shortened the course to five legs, and with Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli reaching back and forth to try to gain speed, Burling nailed the critical tack at 20 knots, sailed through the top gate and headed downwind at 30 knots – but it was far from over.

With conditions firmer further down the course Emirates Team New Zealand used every ounce of skill in their after guard to spot the breeze and sail to it. With Te Rehutai’s hull just touching the water in the downwind gybes they managed to stay flying, and round the bottom gate 2500 metres ahead for the final upwind leg. The closer they got to the finish line, the more the nerves increased with the spectators and fans ashore. Heading out to the top right-hand side, Burling nailed it, over-standing the lay line to head in fast to cross the line at 29 knots, winning Race 8 by 3.55.

For Jimmy Spithill on Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli, Race 8 was a tough result, “we were out in front, but it was never in the bag - we came to the top of the course, it went light, we fell off the foils and were stuck for some time...”

Flight controller onboard Emirates Team New Zealand Blair Tuke commented, “We made a costly error gybing behind them – but we just stuck at it. We were on the wrong sized jib and all the boys went right to the end there. A huge effort from the team. We knew there was a chance they could come off the foils and we just kept on going.”

To be behind at both starts and win two races today was a phenomenal effort from Burling and his crew onboard Emirates Team New Zealand who head into tomorrows race day with a 5-3 lead to Race 9 & 10 in this phenomenal event, and another massive day ahead for both teams.

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Weather won the day on the Waitemata Harbour today on the fourth day of the 36th America’s Cup with the Race Committee forced to call off racing due to the lack of wind.

The scoreboard between Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli and the best-of-13 series is still tied three apiece.

1300+ spectator boats gathered once again1300+ spectator boats gathered once again

Auckland offered a spectacular sight on a day better suited to fishing and swimming for the 1300+ spectator boats gathered once again around Race Course A. The America’s Cup Race Village packed with over 48.000 people, in the end left to rock out to The Feelers and Zed in the balmy Sunday evening.

The forecast for day number five is promising - ENE 10-15 knots, so teams have to set the re-set button as tomorrow looks set to deliver another tense day for sailors and spectators alike.

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As if it was written in the script, day 3 of the America’s Cup presented by Prada is again locked up with Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli in 3-3 tie. To lift the Auld Mug one of them need to win 7 races so the regatta is anyones.

Today’s racing has been a copy of yesterday and the day before, starts have been crucial and have played a big part in shaping the final result and light breeze made staying up on foils the priority.

In contrast to many Cups that have gone before these lightweight flying AC75 only need a small window to deliver an exciting race sailing with an average speed of 30 knots reached in less than 10 knots of wind.

Out on the water ahead of day 3, it was another spectacular scene as over 1500 spectator boats lined the race course boundaries and tomorrow at 4:15 pm is game on again.

Just minutes into the first leg of Race five the Italian lead was 250 metresJust minutes into the first leg of Race five the Italian lead was 250 metres

Race 5 - Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli beat Emirates Team New Zealand

Start: 1615
Port: NZL
Stbd: ITA
Course: A
Axis: 019
Length: 1.6nm
Current: 0.4 knots @ 194
Wind 8-9 knots
Winner: Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli 0:18

Out on the water ahead of race 5, one thing that hadn’t turned up in abundance was the wind.

In the minutes before the start sequence got underway the average wind speed was floating around the 7-8 knot range, just above the minimum 6.5 knot average required for racing.

In these conditions, the expectation so far has been that this would favour the Italians with the Kiwis less comfortable in the light airs.

When the confirmation came that the minimum wind speed conditions had been met, the racing was on, the fifth race was about to begin in just 8 knots of true wind.

In the pre-start, after their march out to the right-hand side of the zone, both boats found themselves early for their passage back to the start line. This meant slowing down, but this was a risky move with the threat of coming off the foils in the process. But there seemed little other option and as both boats settled down to the water’s surface Emirates Team New Zealand was in a trickier position and had more to lose.

As Luna Rossa got back underway and worked their way to the start line the Kiwis were stuck, struggling to get back on the foils and sailing a deep angle away from the line to do so.

The net result was that while the Italians made a clean start on time the Kiwis were struggling and were forced to tack for the line.

Eventually, Team New Zealand get onto their foils but they had been left behind by the challengers who were free to head over to the left-hand side of the course where there was stronger breeze.

Just minutes into the first leg and the Italian lead was 250 m.

Having said that, as both boats worked their way up the first leg the Kiwis appeared to be chipping away at the Italian lead.

As Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli approached Gate 1, leading was not enough as Spithill and Bruni discussed their tactics for the first mark rounding. “I don’t want to gybe too early as I want to give him gas at the top,” said Bruni in reference to their ability to add to the Kiwi issues by giving them turbulent air as they passed them on their way down leg 2.

The Italians had rounded 32 seconds ahead. By the bottom gate, the difference was exactly the same as the pair chose opposite marks to round. If nothing else, this seemed to suggest that the speeds between the two boats remained much the same and the distance between them in this match was the result of an unforced error at the start.

By the second windward gate, the Italians were still in the lead, but Emirates Team New Zealand had managed to pull back 10 seconds. The defenders were still paying the price for a poor start but they clearly had a quick machine upwind when they were able to sail their own course in clear air.

By the top gate for the third and final time, the Kiwis had once again hauled back a few seconds to round 23 seconds behind, a gain but the track record in this match suggested that a win on the final leg would be a big ask.

And indeed this is how it turned out as Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli crossed the finish 18 seconds ahead to take their third win in the 36th America’s Cup.

By gate one in race six, Emirates Team New Zealand was 51 seconds ahead, a physical distance of around 800 m on the waterBy gate one in race six, Emirates Team New Zealand was 51 seconds ahead, a physical distance of around 800 m on the water

Race 6 - Emirates Team New Zealand beat Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli

Start: 1715
Port: ITA
Stbd: NZL
Course: A
Axis: 015
Length: 1.61nm
Current: 0.5 knots @ 193
Wind 8-9 knots - 010 degrees
Winner: Emirates Team New Zealand 1:41

For race 6, the second race of the day, the breeze had remained much the same but the pressure on the defenders had increased significantly.

As Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli came in on port Emirates Team New Zealand were keen to get on their tail very quickly and gybed to get onto the chase.

Both boats headed out to the right-hand boundary, Luna Rossa gybed while the Kiwis tacked. The Italian gybe wasn’t a good one as they struggled to get through a light patch and get back up to speed after the gybe.

Meanwhile, Emirates Team New Zealand had good speed as they bore away from their high right-hand corner position in the pre-start zone.

As the final seconds counted down the roles had been reversed from the first race of the day with the defenders sailing 10knots quicker through the water as they crossed the start line while the challengers struggled for pace.

On the face of it Peter Burling had perfected his start, while Jimmy Spithill appeared to have got it wrong. Yet there was another potential issue at play, the breeze.

While the average minimum wind speed had been met, the breeze was becoming patchier. It was now becoming easier to get caught out.

By gate 1 Emirates Team New Zealand was 51 seconds ahead, a physical distance of around 800 m on the water, a huge lead for the first half of the first lap. Getting back into this race for the Italians was going to be a big ask.

By gate 2 little had changed other than the Kiwi lead had increased slightly to 1 min 7 seconds. By the end of the second lap, more of the same at 1 min 13 seconds.

By the top gate for the final time, the Kiwis were 1400m ahead, only a crisis stood between Emirates Team New Zealand and their third win. Across the line, they were 1 min 41 seconds ahead. But the time was of no interest, win or lose, that was all that mattered.

“That was a good one,” said Emirates Team New Zealand flight controller Blair Tuke. “A good way to finish another tight day.”

“We got caught in a light patch before the start and couldn’t get to the line,” said Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli co-helmsman, “after that there was not a lot of passing lanes to get back after that.”

So, three days of racing and three wins apiece, an extraordinary scoreline that few if any had predicted. The 36th America’s Cup couldn’t be any closer.

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

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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.

 

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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.”

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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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Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
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