The first day of official practice racing was run by the 36th America’s Cup race management as an opportunity to test the entire network of systems needed to successfully run and broadcast an AC36 race.
Unfortunately it did not work for Ben Ainslie’s Ineos Team UK, with Britannia being slowly towed back in without seeing any action.
What they broke or what the problem was is not known yet.
For the other three teams it was a useful day of close action as they practiced close manouvering start procedures.
Ray Davies was in the box seat orchestrating the racing operations between the Regatta Director Iain Murray and the other teams.
“So cool to see these boats line up, they are spectacular, the closing speeds are phenomenal, the close racing, we are going to see proper pre starts and proper racing and boat on boat situations, so all we could have hoped.” Concluded Ray Davies.
The wind was in the upper regions 16-22 knots NW breeze, fully powered up the AC75’s, a spectacular sight flying off the upwind start line.
Emirates Team New Zealand was assigned a 30-minute period to practice three starts and each team had the ability to have another team practice their starts alongside them on the race course.
They could then line up and train with each other for the remainder of the practice session.
The best video of the first day of practice was this by the one by Georgia Schofield of Live, Sail, Die . . . with commentary by Cameron Dunn and Chris Steele.
After a number of pre-starts with the American’s which could be described as ‘rusty’, Emirates Team New Zealand lined up with the Challenger of Record Luna Rossa for the first time.
Both teams visibly eager to line up and get a gauge on one another.
“It was really exciting to finally be allowed to line up with another AC75 after all this time,” said Helmsman Peter Burling.
“Although it is just practice racing and practice starts it certainly gets the intensity up a few notches for all the boys. The competitive nature ratchets up the importance of nailing every maneuverer with precision, picking your shifts and trying to get an edge.”
“And this is exactly what we need going into the ACWS and Christmas race next week.”
The second day of practice racing is scheduled for Thursday, when hopefully Britannia can stay the course.
The PRADA ACWS Auckland event runs over 17 to 19 December, with Sunday 20 December being the PRADA Christmas Race.