Did they ever go away?!
Emirates Team New Zealand. Image copyright Chris Cameron/www.chriscameron.co.nz
by ORACLE Racing communications
The confirmation last week that Emirates Team New Zealand would return to contest the 34th America’s Cup brought back to the competition one of sailing’s most recognizable brand names.
Team New Zealand has been a player in every America’s Cup since 1995. And when we say player, we mean a force to be reckoned with.
Since 1995 there have been five matches for the America’s Cup and Team New Zealand has factored in four of them, winning twice. Also included in that count are two Louis Vuitton Cup victories in the Challenger Selection Series and, in 2000, the first successful defense of the America’s Cup outside of the U.S.
The team’s high success rate in America’s Cup Class sloops continued through the Louis Vuitton Trophy events, where they won three of the four official events as well as the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series, the event that gave rise to the regattas.
In mid-March this year Team New Zealand said that it had paid the entry fee and secured an AC45 catamaran, but managing director Grant Dalton stopped short of public confirmation of the team’s full participation in San Francisco in the summer of 2013. With old sponsors Emirates, Toyota and Omega back aboard, Dalton welcomed support from new sponsor Nespresso and continuing support from the New Zealand government.
“We’re in a financial position that I know we can go forward, but the drive to find sponsors and financial assistance never ends,” said Dalton in Auckland last week.
The team, however, has been recruiting international talent since last October. Designers such as American Pete Melvin (creator of the AC72), his partner Gino Morrelli and Frenchman Luc Dubois (ex-Alinghi) bring extensive multihull design experience to the team.
Aussie Olympic medalist and multihull ace Glenn Ashby, ORACLE Racing’s coach during the 33rd America’s Cup, lends practical know-how to skipper Dean Barker, who’d never raced catamarans until last fall but earlier this year placed in the top five at the Australian A Class Nationals with the help of Ashby.
“In Glenn Ashby we’ve been lucky enough to employ a specialist multihull guy,” said Dalton. “He’s brought expertise in how hard to push, where’s the edge, when’s it going to tip over, trimming the wing ... and just pushing. That’s a hugely important element that’s come into the team; we could not have replicated that from within. They don’t come much better than Glenn, as a person and a multihull sailor.”