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Sail-World NZ - Aug 20, 2020 - America's Cup..Burling/Tuke join SailGP..Women's sailing webinar

by Richard Gladwell, 20 Aug 03:28 UTC 20 August 2020
No, not the first AC75 to sail in the Southern Ocean - American Magic - Defiant - Auckland - August 17, 2020 - Waitemata Harbour - 36th America's Cup © Richard Gladwell /

Welcome to's New Zealand e-magazine for August 20, 2020

Apologies for the break in newsletters, caused mainly by our rather time-consuming focus on the America's Cup sailing in Auckland.

The first America's Cup Challenger to arrive in Auckland, New York Yacht Club's American Magic, has been putting in the hours on the Waitemata - sailing most days on which the weather is suitable - and as we saw on Monday, staying out when it is not.

The US team are playing catch-up, as are all others - given the time lost due to COVID-19. American Magic lost five months sailing time after realising in early March that the first of two America's Cup World Series regattas wasn't going to happen, and made the decision not to ship their first AC75 to Sardinia.

Instead, they opted to charter a ship to transport Defiant directly to New Zealand, along with their fleet of chase boats and the small town of containers which accompany most America's Cup teams.

They started sailing in Auckland three weeks ago, and clearly have their strengths and weaknesses.

One of the constraints they are working with is how to catch up five months of on the water testing and development, plus pack in the work that was already scheduled for Auckland.

So while their on the water days are long - there are often significant time outs as adjustments are made. They don't have the luxury of bedding in changes to a refined level before moving onto the next group of upgrades.

There is the vexed design issue of the concept that the team will follow for Boat#2 - or their likely race boat.

Of course, all teams had to make decisions on Boat #2 design direction many weeks ago - and the second boats for all the challengers are expected to be airfreighted into Auckland sometime next month.

Some and maybe all teams will make a design concept change. There are risks with either building a second scow for INEOS Team UK and American Magic, or doing a skiff - and having one of each genre to evaluate.

Equally for the Italians and New Zealanders - while they have the first generation AC75's in the skiff design genre, there is a risk of continuing down the same path, only to find that the USA and UK teams will come up with a better concept. Alterations to the hull surface (and shape) are limited to just 12.5% - which restricts changes that can be made.

American Magic's Defiant is the first opportunity NZ fans have had to see how the scow genre AC75 works, and comparisons can be drawn between the scow shaped Defiant, and the skiff shape of Emirates Team New Zealand's Te Aihe.

To our eye, Defiant is quite a different boat upwind and down.

Downwind she seems to sail very nicely with her aerodynamically influenced hull riding well clear of the water, and sitting on just the two immersed foils, which are usually throwing only a fine shower of spray.

Upwind it is a different story with the foil arms often appear to be ploughing through the water with a significant wake apparent. From a distance, it is hard to tell if this phenomenon is creating significant drag, or if it is purely a visual foiling illusion.

Te Aihe on the other hand - and particularly since her recent upgrades - appears to maintain a more consistent trim upwind. If surface contact is made with the hull, it will usually be with the sharp bow, rather than the blunt underside of the hull as occurs with the scow type.

For sure, the difference is largely visual and seems also to be quite dependant on the viewing angle. From astern Te Aihe gives quite a different impression from the side or bow view. Only the designers can tell whether there is significant drag or other performance inhibiting effect. The rest of us can just guess and speculate.

But we suspect in the America's Cup design stakes, that the real determinant will be wing, foil arm and flap development and their control systems.

It will be fascinating to see in the second generation of AC75's as to how the designers have reacted to these challenges, and how their solutions have changed.

The AC75 class rule is very different from the near one design of the AC50, and there are more "right" answers in a restricted design like the AC75 and previously in the AC72 catamaran, and prior to that the IACC keelboat used in the America's Cup from 1992 to 2007.

Even though New Zealand is back in partial lockdown, it is quite apparent that almost regardless of the state COVID-19, that the event will go ahead - provided the teams are in New Zealand.

As well as the traditional America's Cup regatta, which hasn't changed for decades - in many ways due to the heavy influence of Louis Vuitton and Bruno Trouble and Christine Belanger who had the right formula - there must now be the option of running a virtual, or TV only America's Cup regatta, with a 'stadium' devoid of fans.

Whether that happens remains to be seen. For sure there seems to be no diminution of interest in the America's Cup - evidenced by the individual story readership on Sail-World. It is pleasing to see our readership picking up after being a on a slow downward slide after the first lockdown was imposed. Now it is really up to New Zealand to show plenty of foresight and be able to run with several options for racing and coverage, instead of locking into a very restrictive approach in what we know is a rapidly changing environment.

PJ Montgomery inducted into the America's Cup Hall of Fame

In this edition we are pleased to be able to present a look, or rather listen back at Peter Montgomery's America's Cup involvement dating back to the 1987 America's Cup in Fremantle. Since that first race on October 5, 1986 when KZ-7 took on Heart of America on Gage Roads, in the 86/87 Louis Vuitton Cup, PJ known internationally as the "Voice of the America's Cup" has given a live commentary on every race in which a New Zealand AC boat has participated - right through to the latest race on June 26, 2017 - when New Zealand won its third America's Cup.

That is an amazing record and for which he will very deservedly be inducted in the America's Cup Hall of Fame, in March 2021. Montgomery is just the third chronicler to be admitted to the AC Hall of Fame which has just 90 inductees. A rare but very popular honour to someone, who more than anyone else, has been on the spot for not just America's Cup, but also Round the World races, One Ton Cup, Olympic Regattas, World Championships, as well as being an outstanding commentator in many other sports - and he quite rightfully takes his place among the Greats of sailing. Since 1970 PJ has been instrumental in capturing the key moments of our sport - which is a magnificent achievement and legacy.

Cup coverage

One of the developments in our coverage in Sail-World is the America's Cup Rialto series, which we have started for several reasons, based on our previous experience with the America's Cup. The primary reason for starting this format of coverage is that there is one "content bucket" for the day - which can be images, video, text and audio. As the Cup progresses, it is too easy for sites like Sail-World to become swamped with America's Cup coverage to the exclusion of other events.

As the sailing world gets back on its feet, we must give the other events their place in the sun, and not just put their stories and news in the perpetual shadow of the America's Cup.

Womens Sailing webinar

Now everyone has a bit of time on their hands, you are strongly recommended to watch/listen to a webinar staged by World Sailing Vice-Presidential candidate Luca Devoti and his daughter Viola and Alessandra Sensini - who have done all the hard work. It's a great insight into what top female sailors think of their sport and the opportunities available - and what should happen. To view and listen to Shirley Robertson, Martine Grael, Alessandra Sensini, Silvia Mas and Silvia Bekatorou click here - all conducted in English.

The second in this series will be tonight with Lars Grael (BRA) a top Brazilian sailor now politician since losing a leg in a collision between his catamaran and a coach boat, discussing Project Grael. We will have the Youtube version available on Sail-World as soon as it is available.

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

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

Good sailing!

Richard Gladwell
NZ Editor

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