With preparations underway for the return of America`s Cup racing on Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf in 2020/2021, this video will bring back a different time.
‘Only 2003’ but to paraphrase L.P. Hartley – It was a different world back then, they did things differently there.
When nine teams from six countries challenged for the 31st America’s Cup in 2003 the competition to choose the challenger was the Louis Vuitton Cup, and 120 races over five months were held to select a challenger for the’ Auld Mug’.
The GBR Challenge, put together by Peter Harrison and David Barnes, was skippered by Ian Walker and they used an IACC, GBR 70 named Wight Lightning.
From the start things did not go well for the Brits and their first two races were described as not so much a defeat as a drubbing.
They eventually won 7 races of 16 and failed to make the quarterfinals, placing sixth of the nine challengers.
Winner was the Swiss challenger Ernesto Bertarelli’s Alinghi, skippered by Russell Coutts, who won the Louis Vuitton Cup Finals by defeating Larry Ellison’s Oracle, 5–1, eliminating the United States from the America’s Cup competition.
Alinghi then faced the America’s Cup holder, Team New Zealand, skippered by Dean Barker. To win the Cup required being the first to win five races.
In a stiff breeze, Alinghi won the first race easily after New Zealand, retired due to multiple gear failures and the tendency to take onboard large quantities of water . . . 1 – 0
Race 2 was another win for Alinghi but by a margin of only seven seconds. The lead changing several times and a duel of 33 tacks on the fifth leg . . . 2 – 0
In Race 3, Alinghi won the start, and led throughout the race, winning with a 23-second margin . . . 3 – 0
After nine days without being able to race due to the weather conditions, Race 4 was sailed in strong winds and rough seas and New Zealand’s mast snapped on the third leg. Quality control was obviously not a Kiwi strong point . . . 4 – 0
Crunch-time . . . was there anything else that could go wrong for Dean Barker and Team New Zealand?
Well, yes there was.
Race 5 started on time in a good breeze and Alinghi again won the start and stayed ahead all the way to the finish. On the third leg, New Zealand added to the debacle with a broken spinnaker pole.
They lost the race and the cup in a 5 – 0 whitewash.
Dean Barker is currently the helmsman of the American Magic challenge from the New York Yacht Club to the 2021 America’s Cup.
Although Britian made an early exit from the 31st America’s Cup, and did not compete in the next three America’s Cup – apart from Ben Ainslie helping Team Oracle to make a remarkable comeback from 1 to 8 down to win 9 to 8 in AC34.
They did re-appear as Land Rover BAR with Ainslie at the helm for AC35, going out to ETNZ in the Challenger Playoff Semi-finals
The 36th America’s Cup will take place in Auckland New Zealand, starting with the third (and only remaining) America’s Cup World Series event in December 2020.
Then the PRADA Cup Challenger Selection Series (replacement for the 2003 Louis Vuitton Cup above) will take place from 15 January to 24 February. And finally the 36th America’s Cup Match starting 6 March 2021.