The 36th America’s Cup comes under more pressure as all the countries involved remain in lockdown.
New Zealand is in the early stages of the pandemic and in the middle of a four week lockdown. A major factor in the low coronavirus cases/deaths is the small, widely spread population and the swift imposition of strict border controls.
These border controls are likely to remain in place after the stage 4 lockdown is eased, with talk of a mandatory quarantine on entry to the country post-lockdown until the virus has stopped circulating globally.
New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern is quoted as saying, “I really want a watertight system at our border, and I think we can do better on that”.
Which could leave the America’s Cup in a holding pattern for now . . .
For the three other competing countries – USA, UK and Italy – things are approaching a much more critical stage of the pandemic, with all the teams in some version of lockdown.
The Britsh team, Ben Ainslie’s Ineos Team UK, is back in Portsmouth and work is continuing on their second AC75 boat at a reduced pace under the lockdown restrictions, with the majority of the team working from home.
In a recent interview with Kiwi journalist Richard Gladwell, Ainslie indicated that the new boat was . . . ‘certainly different from the first boat’.
Leaving plenty of room for speculation on the scow versus skiff design front . . . maybe a crossover!
The UK coronavirus restrictions are to be reviewed on Monday 13 April, although the press conference journalists constantly ask when the lockdown will end.
Depending on the (expected) extention to the lockdown, will be how soon the second Ainslie team boat can be completed at builder Carringtons, and they can get it on the water for intial testing.
The window for testing on the Solent before shipping the both boats to Auckland could be very short if the coronavirus restrictions continue into June.
The plan was to be in New Zealand by October, but this also depends on the entry restrictions there being lifted and assumes that the Auckland base is completed by then.
There is still the ‘Christmas’ event on the table, scheduled for 17 to 20 December in Auckland, although Ainslie is already not sounding too keen on the chances of their being ready for that.
If that is binned then the next event, on the rapidly shrinking schedule, is the Prada Cup Challenger Selection Series from 15 January to 22 February 2021, and then the America’s Cup Match itself from 6 to 15 March 2021.
That scenario would pitch the teams against one another with little chance to re-think the boats or stage a recovery.
It could be a long trip . . . for a short visit!
At 8 April: A total of 82,210+ corovirus deaths reported worldwide, with 21,800+ in the USA, 17,000+ in Italy, 6,150+ in the UK and one death in New Zealand.