It is just over three weeks since Emirates Team New Zealand was sailing in New Zealand, and today the team’s America’s Cup Class race boat was out sailing on Bermuda’s Great Sound for the first time under inquisitive gaze of an armada of competitors chase boats getting a first hand glimpse of the kiwi boat in what has inadvertently become one of the most anticipated events of this America’s Cup cycle.
Late in the day, an ideal 10 - 12 knots on the tropical blue flat water, perfect sailing conditions that Bermuda has become renown for, the evening was more about a recommissioning of the systems and components to make sure everything was working properly before getting back into the mindset of pushing the development hard day after day.
The maiden sail in Bermuda came with an air of relief for skipper Glenn Ashby who has been like “a cat on a hot tin roof” waiting to get back out on the boat named New Zealand Aotearoa.
“When you look at the calendar it actually hasn't been too long since we last sailed in Auckland, but everything that has happened between times, packing up, flying the boat here and rebuilding it has made it seem a lot longer, the team has done a huge push to get us on the water as soon as possible.”
“But it was really fantastic to get back out there and get a taste of the race course first hand for the first time. It is pretty apparent already that this is going to be a really great regatta up here.”
Emirates Team New Zealand relaunched their race boat with their replacement daggerboards while the finishing repairs continue to be made to their race boards which were damaged in Auckland.
“We would have preferred to have our race boards back in the boat, but we need to be sure the repairs are 100% right so we don’t want to rush the repair. Hopefully we will have them come back online very shortly.” said Ashby.
With just 34 days to go until the first race of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers the urgency for continued development looms large and the team will be making the most of each day, the varying conditions as well as new equipment coming on line.
“As a team it is important we remain totally focused and flexible to learning as much as we can from ourselves but also our competitors.”
“From what we have seen in the past few days, the other teams all look to have strengths as well as some weaknesses. We will be no different so the race effectively has started as to who can make the most of these next five weeks to maximise all the speed they can in preparation for racing on the 26th May.”
Another official race training period begins on Monday in Bermuda, with all of the other teams likely to participate.
When questioned with the Emirates Team New Zealand participation Ashby said: “We will see how we go. We need to take our time to make sure we are happy with where we are at before starting any racing. But it will be good to get into some action with another boat as amazingly it is something we have not done at all yet.”