With all European America’s Cup events now cancelled, focus is on New Zealand for the ACWS Auckland/Christmas Cup events in December 2020 and the 36th America’s Cup Match in 2021.
Even that will depend on the progress of the COVID-19 virus, as New Zealand, tucked away in its own natural isolation space, trails the rest of the world in the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
With 205 confirmed cases and no deaths to date (26 March) New Zealand has declared a four-week lock-down beginning 25 March, with the now standard halt to all non-essential businesses and working from home the new norm.
The country had already closed its borders for foreigners, only allowing citizens and residents to enter the country from Friday 20 March.
The lockdown directly effects the build of Emirates Team New Zealand’s second AC75 boat and also the construction of the AC36 team bases in Auckland, where INEOS Team UK were already well into construction of their AC36 base.
In these unusual times ETNZ look to be in a strong position with the home ground advantage.
Despite their first AC75 shuttling back and forth to Europe, they have their new test boat in the place they need it, and also have their base and construction facility ready to roll as soon as coronavirus restrictions are eased.
With all the AC teams similarly effected by stoppages to construction of their second boats in their home countries, it is likely that the challengers move to New Zealand could be delayed.
The three challengers they will want to get as much testing and training of their second boats in as possible before packing for transport to New Zealand.
The Kiwi winter season ends around the beginning of September, so there is little point in trying to sail in Auckland before then, even if the teams could get access to the country.
The various Government restrictions to control the spread of the coronavirus within New Zealand will affect their arrival time in Auckland, and when their bases will be completed, which in turn dictates when they can start sailing locally.
A worse case scenario could even lead to the postponement of the ACWS Auckland/Christmas Cup events and put the 36th America’s Cup in doubt.
The America’s Cup World Series event in Auckland, the Christmas Cup is scheduled for 17 to 20 December, with the PRADA Cup Challenger Selection Series set for January 15 to February 22, 2021.
The 36th America’s Cup Match is scheduled for 6 to 15 March 2021.