With Christmas now a fading memory, the America’s Cup teams are back out on the water for final training sessions before the first America’s Cup World Series in Cagliari, Sardinia, from 23 to 26 April 2020.
Ben Ainslie’s INEOS Team UK are now settled in Cagliari alongside the Luna Rossa team base, where they have been busy putting Britannia back together and system testing.
It is not known if INEOS have received and fitted the upgraded hydraulic pump replacement for the foil control system.
But that would obviously be an important step to improve the reliability of this critical system, which proved to be something of an ‘Achillis heel’ in the early boat handling trials.
Emirates Team New Zealand rolled out a remodelled Te Aihe onto Waitemata Harbour, and were quickly back out testing the upgrades to the boat under the watchful eye of the INEOS team ‘spy boat’ rib which tracked Te Aihe out in the Hauraki Gulf.
The Kiwis have been sailing without their bowsprit and have remodelled the bow area, which could indicate that they have already decided that they will race in Cagliari without the code zero.
Although they have to fit internal, compensating weight if the bowsprit is removed, the reduced windage with a cleaner bow area may be worth the gamble . . . interesting to see if any other teams take that route.
ETNZ are expected to ship Te Aihe to Europe around the end of February, leaving them with an extended period without any AC75 sailing. The boat will remain in Europe for the second ACWS event in Portsmouth, UK, in June.
For the INEOS team Ben Ainslie and several of the AC75 crew – as yet unnamed – are training on the SailGP simulator in the UK ahead of competing in the opening round of the SailGP series in Sydney, Australia at the end of February.
The take-over of the British SailGP team is aimed at keeping Ainslie and Co., up to speed on a fast foiling platform and provide them with top class racing practice, but does mean some team logistical problems.
Apart from the traveling between the various event venues – Cagliari, Sydney, San Francisco, Portsmouth UK and New York, and the testing/training on the two different platforms, there are also the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in July and Giles Scott’s involvement in the Finn event for Team GB.
Scott admitted that missing out on a world championship medal at the recent Finn worlds was a “wake-up call” as he prepares to defend his Olympic title at Tokyo 2020, and he is under no illusions as to the challenge that lies ahead to defend his gold medal when the Olympics kick off in July.
Word is that the second British AC75 is close to design sign-off, but although they can launch a second boat after 15 February 2020, they are unlikely to launch until after the ACWS events in Europe, given the sailing programme.
Things will by then be getting very crowded with the boats having to be shipped to Auckland, New Zealand and Cup bases constructed for the concluding ACWS event which is part of the Christmas Race in Auckland from December 17-20.
In 2021 the Prada Cup Challenger Selection Series will determine which foreign yacht club will take on the Defender of the America’s Cup, Emirates Team New Zealand, in the 36th America’s Cup Match from 6 to 21 March 2021 in Auckland.