Just when it seemed that things were going smoothly, a row has broken out over wind limits for the America’s Cup and Prada Cup challenger series in Auckland.
The wind limits were meant to be signed off last Friday 20 December, but it now looks like they will have to be referred to the Arbitration Panel for Mediation.
The problem is that the defender, Emirates Team New Zealand, wants a maximum wind strength of 24 knots to be used to decide if racing can take place.
While the challenger of record, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli, wants a maximum wind strength of 22 knots for the 36th America’s Cup match, and 20 knots for the Prada Cup Challenger Selection Series.
ETNZ claims that the lower Luna Rossa limit is unrealistic for Auckland conditions at that time of the year, and would lead to many days of racing being lost, also causing problems for the scheduled racing via TV broadcasters.
The wind strength limits have caused problems at previous America’s Cup events with races being cancelled in conditions that for other events would be considered sailable.
ETNZ have had their AC75, Te Aihe, out in winds as over 25 knots on Waitemata Harbour / Hauraki Gulf and recently released a video demonstrating their ability in such conditions.
At the last America’s Cup in Bermuda, the wind limit was set at 24 knots and there were some heavy crashes, but the AC75 foiling monohulls are expected to handle such conditions better than the twitchy foiling multihulls.
Although, as ETNZ have also demonstrated . . . they can capsize in much less wind!
The reason for Luna Rossa requesting a lower limit for the Prada Cup Challenger Selection Series is apparently that as they will take place in January, stronger winds can be expected.
The Protocol requires the wind limit to be the same for the Challenger Selection Series and the Cup Match.
The AC Protocol requires disputes to go to the Arbitration Panel, although at present it is not known just how they will actually run the mediation process, which could take up to three months to reach a decision – so sometime in March 2020.
Under the Protocol the teams can launch a second AC75, expected to be their actual AC36 match race boat, after February 2020.
Knowing the wind limits could have an effect on the design parameters, but it now looks likely that this figure will not be available to them.
Note: Header image of Mini 6.50 Arkema 3, singlehander at speed