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America's Cup Rialto: October 19 - Emirates Team NZ packs up Te Aihe

by Richard Gladwell Sail-World NZ 19 Oct 10:19 BST 19 October 2020
INEOS Team UK - Foiling trial - Waitemata Harbour - October 19, 2020 - 36th America's Cup © Richard Gladwell / Sail-World.com

Cup watchers were a little surprised to see the hull of Te Aihe appear outside the Emirates Team New Zealand base this morning. The only AC75 on the water today was INEOS Team UK who completed a foiling sea-trial starting in the upper Waitemata.

Te Aihe, Emirates Team New Zealand's first AC75, and the first AC75 to sail, was launched in September 2019 and has been the full-size test boat for the team. Her intended role was to race in the two America's Cup World Series scheduled for Cagliari, Sardinia and and Portsmouth UK in late April and early June this year. The declaration of COVID-19 as a force majeure by the Arbitration Panel of the 36th America's Cup, put paid to both regattas. But the decision came too late to stop a transhipment of Te Aihe to Italy and the AC75 spent five months on the deck of various freighters.

Today the AC75 emerged with the foil arms and wings removed, along with the rudder and was on a cradle on a low trailer.

The team told Sail-World that Te Aihe had been "temporarily retired". The "retirement" is not as a result of Te Aihe's capsize on October 3, while sailing in strong winds.

There were some parts that had moved across from Te Aihe to the yet to be launched race boat, expected to be launched in early November. Switching of parts from a test boat to the race boat was done previously by ETNZ in the 2013 campaign in AC72's - when the team's first boat was butchered for parts to go on the race boat. The move both saves money, but also ensures continuity and means that time is not wasted debugging new gear.

In due course, as testing progresses the older part may be replaced with a new, updated part.

The question remains as whether Te Aihe will be used for two-boat testing and race practice in the lead-up to the Cup. The team told Sail-World today that the matter remained "undecided" at this point.

Under the Protocol governing the America's Cup the Defender is allowed to commence two-boat sailing, from the start of the Prada Cup on January 17, 2021.

There is usually a provision for the Defender and Challengers to have an arrangement as to who sails on the Cup race area on a day about basis. With the Prada and America's Cup being sailed on one of five courses - determined by wind direction, the outcome of this arrangement will be watched with interest.

All was quiet on the Challenger side, today with American Magic's Patriot remaining inside one of the two AC75 hangars at the team's base.

Luna Rossa are preparing for the official launch of their race boat on Tuesday morning.

INEOS Team UK after stepping their mast over the weekend, ticked off the foiling trial today.

Moderate to fresh westerly winds are forecast for Tuesday.

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