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Sail-World NZ - May 19: NZL32's win...AC75's reach skywards...Saffier Yachts in NZ

by Richard Gladwell, 19 May 01:19 BST 19 May 2020
A short-crewed Luna Rossa lights their afterburner during training in Cagliari, Sardinia © Luna Rossa

Welcome to's New Zealand e-magazine for May 19, 2020

New Zealand sailing to a big step towards normality over the weekend, with the first racing being held after a two-month break.

Surviving the lockdown was tough, as Kiwi sailors had to stay ashore, sitting out the tail-end of the summer sailing season. They got a taste of what was missed on Saturday, with many of the crews sailing in t-shirts and shorts in what was supposed to be the first race in a winter series.

On the America's Cup scene, Emirates Team New Zealand is back on track, having rejigged their design, build and sailing programs to cope with the NZ's lockdown restrictions. Whether the America's Cup champions can catch up the time lost is another matter.

What is more important is how they are placed in the race against time, compared to the other teams.

Emirates Team New Zealand has taken a significant hit over the five weeks of lockdowns. All going well, the Kiwis should have a clear run through to the America's Cup. Their biggest threat is the re-imposition of another blanket COVID-19 lockdown imposed at short notice.

The Challengers are about to run the gauntlet of Kiwi officialdom.

Off the back of the cancellation of the two America's Cup World Series regattas in April and June, the Challengers have to make a difficult decision as to when they shut down down their home sailing program, and relocate to New Zealand.

It appears that American Magic have decided take the early option, and will be the first to head for Auckland, with their scow-genre AC75 leaving Florida sometime this week for a 26-30 day voyage. Taking the late option are Luna Rossa who say they will commence sailing in Auckland on October 20, 2020. INEOS Team UK, are expected somewhere in between - late August/early September.

All teams are expected to fly their second boats to New Zealand.

There is no official word on whether, and how the teams are going to be allowed into New Zealand. In a recent interview run on Sail-World, NYYC American Magic's Executive Director, Terry Hutchinson says they are making progress with NZ officials.

Time is starting to run out for the New York Yacht Club team. Come the end of June - only six weeks away - which looks like a more realistic arrival date for their AC75 - the team will have been off the water, for one reason or another, for four months.

They also revealed in the same interview that they would not be bringing their 38ft test boat to New Zealand, with Hutchinson saying it was for sale.

So far, the New Zealand government has not made any public pronouncements about exemptions to its closed border policy. Admission of teams are one issue, but international media and fans hoping to attend the regatta are another. Clearly, if New Zealand is to reap the oft-criticised economic benefit from the America's Cup, then the answers, or at least broad-brush outline of the future situation, for fans and media, must be provided over the next few weeks.

Australians may be able to enter New Zealand, without quarantine, for the Cup, if the trans-Tasman bubble becomes a reality. But without a team in the event, curiosity rather than patriotism is the likely driver for those from across the Tasman.

A milestone was passed during the lockdown with the celebration of the 25th anniversary of New Zealand's first America's Cup in San Diego. In this edition, we have compiled a multi-media story of the win - much of it with images that have not been previously published - giving a unique view of the occasion. Many thanks to Peter Montgomery for all his assistance with this story.

The NZL32 crew did have a 25 anniversary get together at a watering hole in the Viaduct, with the current America's Cup winners were also present. That is a very select group, of America's Cup champions - remembering that many of the 1995 crew were also in the winning crew for the 2000 Defence.

Change of course

As New Zealand comes out of the lockdown, expect to see a lot more sailing content on Sail-World instead of the diet of podcasts, e-Sailing, historical video and the like.

While it has been great to see a lot of this content emerge, it does have its limits, and we are here first and foremost as an on-the-water sailing website. Expect to see a content sail-change in the coming weeks.

The lockdown period has been marked with a long list of event cancellations and postponements of events, not the least of which is the Tokyo Olympics. Quite how many of those postponed events eventually get boats on the start-line, remains to be seen.

If the European Federation does again become borderless, the way forward could be to hold the events for those who can attend, and keep the championship cycle going. It is much easier to build numbers in subsequent years, than to restart an event which has skipped a year or two and lost its continuity, after its regular sailors have gone to classes which do hold major international regattas.

Over the past week or so, the lockdown tide seems to have turned as sailors get back on the water - with Emirates Team New Zealand showing the way as soon as the extreme alert conditions were eased by to Level 3.

Even better has been the announcement of new events, of which the IMOCA60 Arctic Race is a stand-out - offering sailors the opportunity of sailing what will be a very challenging course and one which should make for some good media content to get the fan interest up. Many of the Vendee Globe entrants are expected to front up - if only for the opportunity to test the foiling IMOCA60s under challenging conditions - more so than the well-trodden Trans-Atlantic courses. The new race will also be a qualifier for the Vendee Globe which gets underway in November 2020.

Closer to home is the Sydney Auckland Race, which gets underway on January 30, 2021, for which a big entry is expected. It will be interesting to see how many Kiwi yachts cross the Tasman - with potentially some excellent pre-Xmas racing along the Australian coast, the Sydney Hobart, and then the race back home. If the travel restrictions are freed across the Tasman, the new race is quite viable and even more attractive.

The key with other events - scheduled or postponed - is to make sure they take place in the 2020 sailing season - even if the weather might not be ideal - or colder than usual. The key, if sailing is to recover from the lockdown, is to get back into the competition routine.

Sailing can't afford the luxury of waiting for the perfect forecast - and the sport just has to run with the breeze we have and get on with it.

There is no doubt that outside the travel and tourism industry that the media sector were the worst hit as an industry.

At Sail-World we came through very well holding our readership at similar or better levels than March.

The big lockdown lesson for all businesses marine and otherwise - should be their online strategy and how they interact with their clients and potential customer base. One Australian retail chain of our acquaintance got their strategy correct, and during the lockdown were able to grow online sales from 10% to around 20% - proving that recessions are a good time to increase market share and build a better platform for the future.

The advantage of having media like Sail-World as part of your marketing mix is that it allows you to communicate directly and quickly with the sailing consumer base. That enables businesses to be able to tell their story to their market, rather than relying their potential and regular customers finding out by chance.

Of the many interviews, I have done over the years I always remember a line from Keith Musto, an Olympic Silver medalist in the Flying Dutchman class, who went on to found Musto & Hyde sails before expanding into Musto Clothing.

My question was "why are so many sailors were good at business?"

His reply was "when I need an answer to a business issue, I always take it out onto the water, think about it in sailing terms, and then the answer is obvious."

Sailing and indeed most businesses have been through a storm over the past month. Some were caught with full sail and have taken a battering. Others saw it coming and were able to take in a reef - and change down the headsail as well. Others had done their planning and had systems which enabled them to change quickly to suit the financial cold front - and keep racing as hard as they could.

The key, of course, is coming out the other side of the gale. And the sailing maxim applicable to business is to be first to reef and be first to shake out - and be racing at the front of the fleet, improving your position/market share over your competitors as a result.

For all the latest news from NZ and around the world see the Top 50 stories below.

Between newsletters, you can follow all the racing and developments in major and local events on or by scrolling to the top of the site, select New Zealand, and get all the latest news and updates from the sailing world.

Good sailing!

Richard Gladwell
NZ Editor

Please forward your news stories and images directly to Sail-World NZ as text in the email and attach images in the standard way for emails. Our email address is

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