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Sail-World NZ - September 3, 2020: Behind the Cup Audit..Govt cans Youth AC..Fear of Flying

by Richard Gladwell, 2 Sep 15:23 BST 20 August 2020
Emirates Team New Zealand - Waitemata Harbour - August 30, 2020 - 36th America's Cup © Richard Gladwell /

Welcome to's New Zealand e-magazine for September 3, 2020

Apologies for the small delay in getting this newsletter to air, however America's Cup coverage takes priority at present.

It has worked well for us with 100,000 more stories being opened in August, than July - which was an increase on June - which seemed to be the bottom of readership curve. We had a 10,000 increase on readership sessions on the New Zealand site. Those are good numbers given that there is not a lot of racing happening in the world - and a couple of AC72's sailing up and down the Waitemata, and not being allowed to race each other, is about as exciting as it gets.For advertisers that translates into a nice increase in impressions for no additional cost.

High point of the month was a video shot by 17yr old foiling kiteboarder Nick Reeves, having an informal drag race firstly with American Magic's Defiant, and then with Emirates Team NZ's Te Aihe. Nick shot the video with a head/body attached camera and got an amazing clip. Sail-World's readers loved it too - and 75,000 have opened the story and viewed the clip. It shows that to get reader attention a budget of thousands of dollars is not essential - just a good idea, unique experience, and good execution.

British solo and short handed sailor, Alex Thomson has long taken this same approach and made it part of his unique sponsorship signature. But of course as well as being superbly devised and choreographed, Thomson's stunts are also a financially more expensive proposition. But then he gets several million views per stunt video.

Last week Team New Zealand Ltd and America's Cup Event Ltd were cleared claims of "financial impropriety or misappropriation of funds", after an audit by a firm of forensic accountants commissioned by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

That was a five-month exercise conducted while New Zealand was grounded in an Alert Level 4 Lockdown. Two major regattas for the AC75's were cancelled under circumstances of Force Majeure - one of which was being organised by ETNZ/ACE. They lost their AC75, Te Aihe, on a regatta-less five-month return trip to Italy. During the audit, the team pivoted to run a re-jigged sailing and testing program under COVID-19's changing Alert levels.

The key task in this period, of course, was to lock off critical design decisions for the second AC75 and America's Cup Defender.

None of this was mentioned in the Audit Summary, aside from a comment critical of ETNZ and ACE on June 9, for refusing to provide further information after two and a half months, as they were "returning to their full programme, requiring its full attention".

In late June a leaked letter signed by the CEO's of Auckland Council and MBIE found its way into the media - who started down the usual path of needing to know commercial details "because public money is involved".

But of course that premise implies that the mainstream media have some concept of how America's Cup programs are put together and they can express that in simple terms for their readers. Sadly that is not the case, and along they way they feel completely at liberty to attach all sorts of extravagant labels to those who are on the Board or senior management of the team and suffer reputational damage as a result.

In the past there have been five figure settlements and public apologies made over these outbursts. It will be interesting to see what outcomes flow from the current legal claims.

The mainstream media's agenda regarding Team New Zealand has been baffling for the past couple of decades.

In 2014 it got to the point where the media had conned their readership into believing the team were a basketcase. An opinion poll came out saying that 86% of those surveyed believed New Zealand shouldn't challenge for the America's Cup again. Yep, that was for the Cup ETNZ won in Bermuda.

Last week MBIE ran up the white flag on Team NZ Ltd and America's Cup Events Ltd - after putting them through a futile five month audit at a crucial time of any America's Cup campaign.

Yesterday emerged that MBIE have again injected themselves into the America's Cup.

This time, they are refusing to let crews in for the Youth America's Cup - and suggesting that the international crews' positions could be filled by New Zealanders.

This novel approach, straight out of Yes Minister, could be extended to a host of major events. The 2020 All Black test program now lost to the COVID-19 criteria, could now take place by selecting a New Zealand team to wear the Silver Fern, and then filling the opposition ranks with available New Zealanders - but wearing the colours of would be touring teams Australia, Wales and South Africa.

International reaction to the cancellation of the Youth America's Cup was swift, and underlines the efforts that overseas clubs had gone to with this event - 19 entries from 13 nations - all Mixed Gender youth teams to compete in Auckland.

This is the Official statement from Denis Martinet, Commodore of Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club:

"As with everyone involved, we are bitterly disappointed. RHKYC Team Agiplast has been working very hard; not just to make up the numbers but to aim for a podium. And the initial results have been very encouraging, with the team medalling in the recent Revolution Cup in Lake Garda. This year is throwing everything at us! Yet we remain positive and are in the process of talking to various entities involved with the YAC to see if we can rebound and develop some exciting alternatives. Once this is firmed up, we shall ensure to let you know more! Stay tuned!"

New Zealand was poised to do very well economically from the 2021 America's Cup and surrounding regattas.

The decisions of MBIE are flushing away many of those benefits. While the 36th America's Cup will be an outstanding regatta because of the spectacular AC75's, many of the predicted benefits just aren't there anymore. The benefits remaining are evaporating as individual decisions are being made overseas about attendance at the regatta by international media, fans, sponsors, VIP's and leaders of the international marine industry.

We understand that only the prototype AC9F has been built and the class will continue in development. According to RNZYS, the current thinking is to run the event as soon as possible after the America's Cup, and when the quarantine restrictions in and out of New Zealand are on a more reasonable setting.

Slowly but surely the America's Cup is beginning to take shape in Auckland. The bases are largely completed and awaiting occupation by Luna Rossa, and INEOS Team UK.

This morning American Magic's second AC75 and likely race boat arrived in Auckland by Antonov - the largest cargo aircraft in the world.

INEOS Team UK is expected to arrive in Auckland later this month, followed by Luna Rossa. The Italians will set up in their base on the Hobson Wharf extension away from the other three teams.

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli is the only team of the four entered that haven't yet had to relocate/lost the use of an AC75, and the disruption that brings to an America's Cup program. The Max Sirena-led team have been fortunate to remain in Cagliari - albeit buffeted by the COVID-19 headwinds for a period, and more so for their builder Persico Marine in Bergamo, in northern Italy.

American Magic might be clocking up the sea miles in Auckland now, but remember that before their arrival they had not sailed since late February/early March, and were five months in arrears in sailing time. They have also had the disruption of shifting bases between Bristol RI and Pensacola, Fl over the past couple of years to avoid the northern winter and keep a training program running. Their second boat arrived in Auckland this morning from Honululu.

Stay tuned to the Sail-World website for updates.

INEOS Team UK was similarly disrupted. They relocated to Cagliari, Sardinia and expected to have a good four-month winter training session, followed by the America's Cup World Series in Cagliari. Then it was back to Portsmouth for a second America's Cup World Series, and then off to Auckland after they'd run out their development program over the balance of the English summer.

Emirates Team New Zealand's challenges are well known. They lost the use of Te Aihe five months and pivoted onto a test program on Te Kahu, before swinging back to Te Aihe. Plus they got caught in the worst lockdown situation of the teams - dropping into an Alert Level 4 at four days notice - a move which caught most New Zealand businesses on the hop. That also stopped dead the Kiwi construction program by five weeks, which it seemed the others were able to continue building at some level.

While there will be a lot of discussion around hull shapes and the nuances between the second generation AC75's and the first-born fleet, the real issue is whether the team designers have settled in the same corner of the rule, or continue with the divergent design approaches that marked the first generation AC75's.

The key issue is the flying fuselage shape, rather than the immersed displacement hull shape. To win, the boats will have to do near dry laps in race mode. If the lower wind limit of 6.5kts is reached, the AC75's should foil, and be hitting speeds of 20-25kts. At those speeds, any dropping off the foils will be heavily punished, as will the inability to get foiling within 1-2 secs of power-on. The AC75's must rise rather than climb on their foils.

The hardest part of the AC75 jigsaw puzzle for viewers, live or video, is understanding what is happening under the water with the actions of the wings and flaps on the foils and also with the wing on the rudder - plus how all that joins up with the crew and control systems. Only the engineers and sailors know that and aren't telling.

And of course, there is what is packed away below decks on the AC75's, of which few images have emerged.

The other error that is made by the video voyeurs is the assumption is that the crews are in race mode for the practice session and that every tack or gybe is a serious one and should be marked accordingly.

Even those watching almost every session (and there is a regular group) know that the more they see, they realise the less they know, and the more there is to work out - which is always one of the fascinations of the America's Cup.

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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