Thursday, 14 July 2011

America's Cup : Kiwis Ready to Roll in Cascais

Emirates Team New Zealand sailing their AC45. Image copyright Chris Cameron/ETNZ

by America's Cup media

With the America's Cup World Series - Cascais now less than one month away, Emirates Team New Zealand is looking forward to getting on the water and pushing the limits in the first event of the 34th America's Cup.

As the top challenger in the last multi-challenger Cup in Valencia in 2007, the Kiwis remain a formidable team, a benchmark of sorts for the other competitors.

But that Cup success came nearly five years ago, on monohulls. Now, everything about the America's Cup has changed. New boats, new race format, new demands on the sailors. So Emirates Team New Zealand has been preparing for Cascais the only way it knows how - by spending time on the water, both in Auckland and abroad on the multihull circuit.

"Before the AC45 left Auckland last month on a Maersk Line container ship, the sailing team had been training on it almost every day," confirmed Grant Dalton, Managing Director of the team. "Sailing team members have also been taking part in Extreme Sailing Series regattas with some good results."

They've been doing more than taking part. In fact, after two consecutive second place finishes, Emirates Team New Zealand earned a stunning, come-from-behind win in Boston last week, to claim their first title of the 2011 season. With the victory, the team is now leading the season championship by one point over fellow Cup challenger Artemis Racing. So Emirates Team New Zealand will arrive in Cascais firing on all cylinders.

"Sailing team members are making a smooth transition from monohull to multihull sailing…" Dalton says. "(But) practice is over, Cascais is serious racing, the start of the buildup to the 34th America's Cup. Racing catamarans with wingsails will be a new experience for all the teams. It may take a few days for the teams to settle in, but once they do it will be something to see.

"We expect to learn a lot about racing multihulls and we hope for really good racing. We have seen at Auckland that these yachts can be a spectacular sight when they are powered up. Cascais will be the first opportunity to check in with the other teams. We have put in the hours on the water so hope to make a good showing at Cascais."

Certainly the venue should be to the team's liking. Emirates Team New Zealand has enjoyed success on the waters off Cascais over the years when it competed in the MedCup circuit.

"We are really happy to return," Dalton says. "We do have good memories of Cascais and the TP52 regattas. And I think the local people will enjoy eight days of racing that is not only historic in terms of the America’s Cup, but also really competitive."

Emirates Team New Zealand
America's Cup