Front Rudder – by Mark Reid
Out To Launch
Tis the season? Wow! Seems like it. On the other side of the planet or what could be the other side of the universe in a COVID-19 free country, multiple christenings are taking place with an entirely new 2nd generation of America’s Cup Class yachts.
All three challenging teams have now safely entered New Zealand and have completed their required quarantining period. The Prada Luna Rossa Pirelli Team (LRP), INEOS UK and American Magic can now all move freely around Auckland and beyond as New Zealand has successfully contained and at least for now conquered the deadly virus.
The country has also navigated through an election cycle with the incumbent Labor Government led by the popular Jacinda Ardern, winning a mandate not seen in New Zealand in over 50 years.
The election would seem to breed continuity with the upcoming America’s Cup, even though it was rumored that a change in government would have loosened up border restrictions and allowed more spectators to enter the country for the upcoming Prada Cup and America’s Cup events beginning in January of next year.
The “Christmas Cup” scheduled for Dec 17-20 in Auckland officially starts the countdown to the 36th America’s Cup finals set for March 6-21, with elimination rounds sandwiched in between.
The X-Mas event will be the first time the flying AC75s will be able to compete against each other. The vaunted new foiling class may reach racing speeds of more than 60 knots!
Part of what lies ahead in this story will be a breakdown of the launches of the new boats, and also an analysis of the AC Arbitration Panel’s ruling which has sent shockwaves throughout the America’s Cup nation from the defenders and challengers to the ordinary lunch-pail fans who had hoped to watch what was promoted as stadium sailing on Waitemata Harbor off Auckland.
The crux of the controversy was a ruling determination that was made by the Auckland Harbormaster earlier this year that went largely unnoticed by most all until recently, when it was “discovered” that racing would be restricted on the fan-friendly courses that had been agreed on in the America’s Cup Protocol and all of the subsequent amendments.
Five race course areas had been agreed upon between the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron (RNZYS), the Defender Trustee and the Challenger of Record (CoR) Il Circolo Vela Sicilia representing LRP Prada.
But, a controversial 2-1 ruling by the Arb Panel (AP) has thrown the event into chaos as all sides are lobbing insults and accusations towards each other, but who really loses are fans and spectators who lost their prime viewing area which had become the hallmark of the last two editions of the America’s Cup where the racing action could easily be viewed from shore in San Francisco and Bermuda.
The AP has issued a ruling that effectively cancels the use of the inner harbor stadium race courses for all racing of the Prada Cup and America’s Cup Match.
The decision has considerable and negative repercussions to the accessibility of the event for the public, the safety of the event and the reliability of the racing. All of which are elements that have been fundamental to Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ) since they won the America’s Cup in 2017.
The images with Auckland City as a backdrop during racing have always been a critical part of showcasing the area to the world in an event with a significant global audience, and another reason for the original race course designs.
The AP published its decision in response to the application by CoR which challenged the exclusion from the Prada Cup Round Robins and Semi-finals of the courses B and C of the Course Area, which are the preferred courses for the Christmas Race, the Prada Cup Final and the 36th America’s Cup presented by PRADA.
The application was supported by similar submissions from the other two Challengers.
The Arbitration Panel found that “If any part of the course area of the CSS and the Match (e.g. Courses B and/or C are not accessible with no restriction at any time in accordance with Art. 3.4 of the Protocol, then that part of the course area will be used neither for the CSS nor the Match.”
They stated that this decision does not prevent the CoR and the Defender from making further approaches to the harbormaster and/or any other competent authority in order to attempt to change the current restrictions or look for a different solution by an agreement among all competitors.
It was found that there was no breach of AC Protocol or Venue Management.
“Quite frankly we are outraged by this decision, it has gone against everything we have been trying to achieve over the last three years with no consideration to the effect this has on the public of New Zealand and the city of Auckland,” said CEO Grant Dalton. “ETNZ are now considering if there are any options that are available to remedy this unbelievable decision.
“The CoR Luna Rossa has led a campaign through the Arbitration Panel, which has destroyed one of the most exciting benefits of the America’s Cup event for the people of Auckland and visitors from throughout New Zealand!”
Not so! Say Luna Rossa and the other challengers.
Auckland’s mayor, Phil Goff has quickly spoken up on the controversial Arbitration Panel decision, cut the available courses down from five to three options and removed the two stadium courses.
“We want the America’s Cup to be as accessible to as many Aucklanders and New Zealanders as possible. I would encourage all parties to work together to find a better solution,” was Goff’s response to a decision which would take racing away from being able to be viewed from the shore by Aucklanders and visitors from outside the City of Sails.
The majority decision by the three-man Arbitration Panel goes against the proposals by the race director, Iain Murray (AUS). He was asked by the Panel for his view on Oct. 3.
As well as having been a race director for the 2013 and 2018 America’s Cups, Murray has competed on the stadium courses in both 12-foot and 18-foot skiff classes when he was a teenager, winning a World 18-foot skiff title and an Interdominion (Australia and NZ) title on the Waitemata.
The stadium courses located between North Head, Bastion Point and the southern half of Auckland’s North Shore offer sheltered water for the foiling monohulls which are expected to be sailing at over 50kts during the America’s Cup.
As well they have natural grandstands for spectators on North Head and Bastion Point offering superb views of the courses.
The CoR issued the following statement following the decision of the Arbitration Panel.
“We are disappointed to acknowledge ETNZ’s response. We would therefore like to point out some of the key elements that explain why the Arbitration Panel made the decision to exclude race courses B and C from the 36th America’s Cup.
“The America’s Cup is governed by a set of rules accepted by all Challengers and the Defender. The AC Protocol, which guarantees the sporting fairness of the event.
“A fundamental rule of the Protocol, art. 3.1, specifically provides that all the PRADA Cup Challengers Selection Series races must be sailed within the course areas of the Match…
“In early September the CoR discovered, without having been previously involved nor informed by the Defender, that the previously stated events could not be sailed on courses B and C, designated as preferred courses for the Final Match. A situation that the Defender had kept hidden since the end of January/beginning of February.
“Upon learning of the situation, the CoR, supported by all the Challengers, requested that the above-mentioned rule 3.1 be enforced with the aim to restore sporting fairness and equity.”
The attacks by ETNZ are intended solely at discrediting the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli team with populist pretexts that tend to mask the attempt to gain an unfair advantage over the Challengers who, we repeat, unanimously supported CoR by each lodging their own independent submission.”
Nick Hill, independent chair of the AC36 Joint Chief Executive Group says the courses were agreed upon by all parties including the CoR and Defender in Feb 2020, contrary to claims by the CoR that they only knew of the arrangement over six months later in September.
Hill has been announced as head of the Auckland Council’s Event and Economic Development Agency, a merger of the former ATEED (Auckland Tourism, Events Economic Development) and RFA (Regional Facilities Auckland.)
“We’ve been clear that the parties need to work together to resolve these issues as quickly as possible,” said Hill. “We expect to see an event where Aucklanders and visitors can share in the experience, an event that will showcase Auckland to the world and we will work with the parties to help achieve that outcome.”
Meanwhile On The Water…
On the evening of Oct. 16th, American Magic completed its first sailing session onboard the newly launched AC75 Patriot in Auckland’s Waitemata Harbor.
After an early morning christening event at the team’s base in the Wynyard Quarter, the team engaged in an afternoon of dockside testing in flat-calm conditions, the dark blue AC75 was pulled up onto its foils by a chase boat and towed at high speed to a location near Rangitoto Lighthouse.
Design, shore and sailing team members then conducted additional testing on sails and systems prior to making the decision to let Patriot cast off under her own power.
“We went off the dock thinking that if the breeze filled in we’d have a good sail,” said Terry Hutchinson, Skipper and Executive Director of American Magic. “Straight away, we came into 21 knots [of pressure] and we were into it. This really demonstrates the confidence that the sailors have in everyone on the team.”
After 92 days of on-the-water development in the American Magic’s 38 test boat (The Mule) and 66 days on the team’s first AC75, Defiant began logging hours on a yacht that is the embodiment of three years of hard-earned data and lessons.
“On Patriot’s first sailing day the overall operation felt like any other day,” said Hutchinson. “Despite having a brand-new boat that we were all excited about, the whole session felt normal. That’s a great validation of our shore team and all of the work put in since we launched the Mule in 2018.
”After sailing from Rangitoto Lighthouse to North Head, Patriot headed upwind past Devonport before bearing away back towards Rangitoto Island. The AC75’s first gybe, attempted with a windspeed of around 20 knots, turned out to be a memorable one.
“We had a great nosedive, and that was exciting,” said Hutchinson. “It was nothing that we haven’t seen or done on our other boats, and our familiarity with the new boat will increase rapidly over the coming days.”
Ex ETNZ and Soft Bank Helmsman, Dean Barker noted that he and team were encouraged by the yacht’s performance overall. Barker described the new AC75, built by a team of 50 in Bristol, Rhode Island, as “lively.”
“I think for the team this is an amazing day,” said Barker. “We’ve done some great work out on Defiant and it has been a real journey through three different sailing venues. To be launching Patriot now here in Auckland, and knowing we are in the final run to the start of racing is exciting. Without any regattas yet, we still do not really know where we sit in the whole pecking order. We have to trust that we have followed our process all the way through, and I think the final product we are putting in the water today is very special.”
U.S. Consul General Katelyn Choe christened the yacht and shared a few words with the team prior to breaking a champagne bottle over the bow. “I am so thankful to each of you for bringing the spirit of American Magic to us, which feels even more poignant during these uncertain times.
“We can’t control the wind, but we can direct the sails,” said Choe. “It is my true honor and privilege to stand with you today to honor the new boat’s name and celebrate all of the patriots in our life.”
As the daughter of immigrant parents, Choe’s participation took on a special significance.
“We have to hit the ground running flat out because every day is precious in terms of being ready for racing,” said Barker. “Given the time frames of the design work needed and everything else, it sort of forces you to be running a reasonably late time frame [for the campaign], and we know we have our work cut out for us to be ready.”
Principal Designer Marcelino Botin said he couldn’t help but reflect on the campaign as a whole as he watched the boat being lowered into the Waitemata Harbor.
“This team didn’t exist three years ago, and now we have three boats built and two AC75’s launched,” said Botin. “The first thing we need to focus on next is to make sure the new boat is sailed the way we want it to be sailed. We’ve got some predictions of how that should be done, and we want to make sure that we help the guys on the boat follow our plan. Obviously after that initial phase there’s evolution and changes, but the first thing is to do analysis of the performance. We are all interested in knowing how the boat performs compared to our predictions and compared to our previous boat.”
After becoming the first AC75 in the world to sail and foil in Sept. 2019, Defiant sailed thousands of training miles in three widely separated venues while pouring valuable data into the team’s ongoing design process for Patriot. Never intended as a fully optimized racing yacht, Defiant had nevertheless been expected to compete in two European America’s Cup World Series regattas in Cagliari, Italy, and Portsmouth, U.K. in 2020 prior to their cancellation due to COVID-19.
“While we haven’t been able to do any racing against another boat, we have done plenty of race simulation laps now while learning what you can and can’t do on an AC75,” said Barker. “The thing with these boats is that they have to be 100% race-ready when you leave the dock or it’s almost impossible to sail. I think we’ve been very lucky with the team that we’ve got and the way they’ve kept the boat in one piece.”
“Obviously the AC Class was a new rule that had to be analyzed and looked at pretty carefully,” said Botin. “We decided to build our first AC75 as soon as possible, and as soon as the rule permitted us to do. At the same time, we were also working on the Mule, our little test boat. It was a pretty demanding time for the design office to be working on the two boats at the same time. Those were the requirements we had at the time, and those two boats really served us well.”
American Magic’s test boat was nicknamed “The Mule” by Team Principal Roger Penske, who has captured 18 Indy 500s as an owner. Last year he completed the purchase of the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“Five or six years ago you never would have thought that we’d see a monohull foiling and sailing at the speeds these boats do,” said Botin. “To me the most surprising thing has been how fast these boats can go, especially upwind. They are always surprising in that respect, just really impressive machines.”
“We’re coming down the final leg of a big dream for all of us,” said Team Principal and CEO Hap Fauth, a multiple Maxi 72 world champion. “Our hearts are all in one place, which is to bring the America’s Cup back to Newport and to the New York Yacht Club.”
Team Principal and multiple TP52 World Champion Doug DeVos added, “This is another step forward in our quest to win back the Cup, and we have made it this far with the support of our donors, our fellow club members, our sponsors and our fans around the U.S.”
Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Launches its Second Boat
Luna Rossa boat was launched in the presence of the families of the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team and a small group of friends and local suppliers close to the team in its New Zealand venture. The ceremony was simple and traditional, enhanced by the blessing of Luna Rossa by Father “Pa” Peter Tipene, Cathedral Dean of Auckland Cathedral and followed by the christening of the boat by Tatiana Sirena, wife of Team Director and Skipper, Max Sirena, as she broke on the bow a bottle of Ferrari Maximum Blanc de Blancs from Cantine Ferrari, the team’s “sparkling”partner. The local Maori welcome ritual accompanied Luna Rossa in the final phase of the launch as she was lowered into the sea.
The hull, built at the Persico Marine shipyard in Nembro (Bergamo), reached Auckland on Oct. 6th on an Antonov cargo plane, the largest transport aircraft in the world. In the few days that separated the arrival of the boat from the launch, the foils, the onboard systems and instrumentation were installed and set up in record time to be ready to sail right after the first load tests, which started one hour after the launch.
Luna Rossa’s 2nd boat is the natural evolution of the previous project, developed on the basis of the data collected during the intense navigation period in the Gulf of Cagliari, and elaborated by the design team with the close collaboration of the sailing team whose feedback was essential to the process.
As on “Boat 1,” the new hull will also feature technology details designed in partnership with Pirelli. Among these, thanks to this company’s ability to create innovative materials for tire technology, is a component used for all parts that touch the water that adds performance at the highest speed range.
Patrizio Bertelli, president of the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team, declared, “First of all, I would like to thank the Persico boatyard and all its staff who managed, despite the difficulties of the moment, to respect delivery times and allowed us to use this second boat who, for many aspects, represents an evolution of the first.
“I also want to thank the whole team. They have worked day and night, with no distinction of roles to be on deadline and ready to launch today. In a few days we will already see Boat 2 sailing and will get our first impressions, which I am sure will live up to expectations. And, soon after, racing starts. My best wishes to everyone at work on this sensational project.”
Marco Tronchetti Provera Pirelli, Executive Vice Chairman & CEO declared, “My compliments go to the whole team and to the boatyard for this new boat that encompasses the experience of these first months of training and navigation. I am proud that I can say that Pirelli’s technology is on board, fruit of continuous innovation, that allows us to compete in disciplines at the highest levels such as Formula 1.”
Max Sirena, Skipper and Team Director of Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli added, “The launch is an important day in our challenge for the 36th America’s Cup presented by PRADA. The launch of the second Luna Rossa is the culmination of over three years of work for the team and all our partners. It is the start of the most important phase of the campaign; the team has worked hard to prepare for this moment and it is great to see the motivation on people’s faces in these weeks of work here in Auckland.
“Everyone knows how important this moment is; now we are getting to the heart of the matter. I want to take this opportunity to thank the whole team for the work done; from now on we will no longer have control of our time, the countdown to the first race has begun. I thank Patrizio Bertelli for having allowed us to get here, together with Marco Tronchetti Provera and all our sponsors and partners. The program is to start sailing a few days after the launch to prepare for the first regattas, the PRADA ACWS Auckland and the PRADA Christmas Race.”
INEOS TEAM UK Christen Britannia
The British Challenger for the 36th America’s Cup named their race boat Britannia in Auckland.
Britannia to be helmed by four-time Olympic gold medalist and America’s Cup winner, Sir Ben Ainslie with fellow Olympic Gold medalist, Giles Scott as Tactician.
Britannia, the team’s second AC75, pays homage as one of Britain’s most famous racing yachts as INEOS TEAM UK seeks to become the first British team ever to win the America’s Cup, the world’s oldest international sporting trophy.
From the historic challenges of Sir Thomas Lipton through to Sir T.O.M. Sopwith and more, the “Auld Mug” has evaded British hands for 170 years ever since the yacht America won the first edition of the regatta in 1851 and took the famed trophy off of British shores.
The America’s Cup is the world’s oldest international sporting trophy, predating the modern Olympic Games by 45 years and being older than both the FA Cup and the Ryder Cup. The first America’s Cup even took place 35 years before the car and 52 years before the inaugural flight of the Wright Brothers.
“Today marks a landmark moment for all of us,” said Ainslie, “a huge amount of hard work and dedication has gone into designing and building this race boat, including over 90,000 design hours and 46,000 construction hours.
“This is a big step forward for us as a team and we can’t wait to get out on the water in the Auckland Harbor. The coming months will be an intense time, as we will need to make every second out on the water in this new boat count to get the full potential out of her by the time we start racing in the America’s Cup World Series this December and beyond, but we are all looking forward to taking on this challenge of a lifetime.”
The team is backed by INEOS Founder and Chairman Sir Jim Ratcliffe, who sent a message of support to Ben Ainslie and the team during the official naming ceremony, “The America’s Cup is a magnificent competition with an extraordinary history and now I believe that for one of the first times in British history we are going to arrive at the start line with a truly competitive boat.
“As the song goes, “Britannia rules the waves,” and we are all extremely hopeful that the team will finish by ruling the waves in Auckland and bring the Cup back home for the first time in its history.”
“In 1899, Charlie Barr, a Scottish fisherman was the first British person to win it – but for the Americans. Most famously, Sir Thomas Lipton, the Glaswegian entrepreneur, tried to win the America’s Cup five times, and despite declaring himself to be an eternal optimist failed on each attempt.”
“So, optimism is not enough, but happily we have much more. The ambition of INEOS has brought together the courage, skills and endeavor of Ben and the crew with all the cutting-edge technology, relentless dedication and ingenuity of those who have designed and built this phenomenal boat. It’s a huge privilege to be the Godmother to Britannia.”
The ceremonial Nyetimber spray of Britannia was completed by her excellency Ms. Laura Clarke, British High Commissioner for New Zealand who has been instrumental in supporting the team’s relocation from the UK.
With estimated top speeds of over 50 knots (93 KM/H, 57.5 MP/H), Britannia is a significant evolution from the team’s first AC75 with noticeable changes to hull shape, deck layout and more.
Speaking on the design, development and build of Britannia, INEOS TEAM UK Chief Designer, Nick Holroyd added, “the biggest change from RB1 is simply that the fundamental capabilities of our design group have evolved immeasurably over the past two years. This boat is on time, perfectly on weight and the detail of the fit out and systems is immaculate. That is a real credit to each team member involved.
“Since developing the first boat the race area and the condition limits have been clarified, and we have had time to sail and test the dynamics and loads. That has made the focus of the design team much clearer and enabled us to design and engineer finer tolerances. On top of that, having a crew that has now sailed an AC75 in RB1 makes us much more dialed in with the end users, the sailors, and enables us to be more specific to their set of requirements.
“This is an incredibly exciting class of boat at the bleeding edge of our design field. We feel incredibly lucky to be involved in these types of projects.”
Mercedes F1’s Applied Science division has been working with INEOS TEAM UK in preparation for the 36th America’s Cup. Since Aug 2019, team members from Applied Science have been dedicated to projects with INEOS Team UK, helping to deliver and accelerate performance for what’s often referred to as “Formula One on water.”
Up to 30 engineers from Applied Science have worked on the INEOS TEAM UK project, working across simulation, manufacturing and control systems to bring F1 know-how and capability to the sea.
Graham Miller, Director of Applied Science at Mercedes F1, added, “what we have been able to bring to the party is horsepower. INEOS is a very capable team and one of the strengths of the Mercedes F1 team is it has got a lot of capability, built up over a number of years. We’ve really been able to blend with INEOS and help turn their ambition into reality.”
Ainslie noted that, “The COVID pandemic has thrown a number of challenges our way over the past six months, as it has been for everyone around the world. The circumstances we found ourselves in focused us to slow down and think long and hard about our priorities and how we make the most of the time we have left before the 36th America’s Cup. This meant the last three months have been a very positive period for the team. We have achieved a great deal and I’m proud of how we got through it together as a team.
“It has been an especially positive period on the water. In fact, I can say we’ve probably had one of the best summers of sailing ever as a team in the UK. Being forced off of the water for a few months was, of course, frustrating. As they say in the America’s Cup the one thing you can’t buy is time. From May through to August however we had a brilliant sailing period. Getting out on the water regularly has been so valuable to us as a team because the learning curve on these brand new AC75 boats is so steep that every time we went out we learnt a huge deal. The British summer really turned it on for us!
“As you would expect when relocating this many people halfway across the world it’s a very busy period and there’s a lot of pressure now on the team to get everything in order before we all head out but equally, we are all very excited to head to Auckland and take this next big step in our America’s Cup challenge.
“Given this is such a new class of boat, there may well be some big differences between the teams when we first line up against each other. For me, however, this Cup feels a lot like the 34th America’s Cup in 2013 in that the key to winning will be how quickly each team can develop and keep developing throughout the competition period.
“We can’t wait to set sail in the Waitemata Harbor. New Zealand is such a beautiful country and Auckland is a fantastic place to sail. Ultimately however, we are there for only one reason, to win the America’s Cup for Britain. It won’t be easy, but we’re looking forward to the challenge ahead!”
Well said Sir Ben and we look forward to being down there too, so stay tuned to all the upcoming reports here in Bay & Delta Yachtsman!
We want to acknowledge the America’s Cup media for their contributions to this report, as well as representatives from American Magic, INEOS and Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli.
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