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Team New Zealand one the surge against Luna Rossa during the second day of official America’s Cup practice.
The impressive early performances of Team New Zealand’s new boat Te Rehutai have some nerves appearing in Italy.
With Luna Rossa as challenger of record for Auckland 2021 and looking to break a 21-year drought in the America’s Cup, hopes are high in Italy, especially with the hiring of the ruthless Jimmy Spithill and the growing confidence in their syndicate.
But that took a dent on Thursday when they were cleaned out in practice starts by Peter Burling and Team New Zealand in decent breezes out on Course E off Bucklands Beach.
Iain Murray is keeping an eye on things ahead of racing next week, although there’s not too much going on at the moment.
The Italian media reaction reflected that as they analysed the second day of boat-on-boat action.
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“Once again it is Te Rehutai who impresses in the tests against Luna Rossa,” was the report in Farevela.
“The Kiwis showed control and speed even in these stronger wind conditions than the average ones on the first day of practice … always fluid.”
The boat development of Team New Zealand has also been noted with a far more aggressive approach to Te Rehutai than Luna Rossa took with their second AC75 which features very subtle hull changes.
“One of the biggest differences can be seen in the much more recessed position of the kiwi crew, whose helmets just come off the deck, compared to that of the men on Luna Rossa. All to improve the aerodynamics of the topside,” Farevela reported.
Similarly, there is anxiety in Britain after INEOS Team UK failed to sail for a second time, having missed the opening practice session on Tuesday after suffering damage.
“Nervous times for British fans as the two missed practice days seem to point to unsolved problems for the Ineos team,” wrote Gerald New on the British website Sailweb.
“This was the second missed day for the Brits, who pulled out with a broken main halyard early on the first day, but as that would have been a simple fix, the reason for their no show on Thursday is not known.”
They felt Team New Zealand “continue to look the best prepared team at this stage”.
American Magic were also absent on Thursday for unknown reasons though they also appeared to have a problem with their boat late on Tuesday.
“Maybe the two teams have more pressing problems to fix before the first proper racing,” speculated Sailweb.
There is no compulsion to be involved in these practices and there are suggestions both the British and Americans could be missing from Friday’s session which is set to involve full races.
Luna Rossa may also take time out to make adjustments as the small fleet work their own agendas towards next week’s world series and Christmas Cup regatta which starts on Thursday.
In previewing the world series event, the latest edition of Yachting World features an in-depth look at the four-boat fleet from Matthew Sheahan who is one of the few foreign yachting reporters granted entry to New Zealand to cover the America’s Cup under the Covid restrictions.
In running his ruler over Te Rehutai, he noted Team New Zealand “has set the foiling agenda since 2012 … being the architects of the new rule delivered another opportunity to stretch further ahead.”
He believes the design of Te Rehutai reflects that with an “aggressive, muscular approach” and the Kiwis have “come out swinging” with their early sailing efforts in the new boat “putting down a powerful marker”.
Shehan was also highly complimentary of Team New Zealand’s champion crew.
“There are few sailing partnerships as successful, and apparently as near-telepathic, as Pete Burling and Blair Tuke,” Sheahan wrote in Yachting World.
“The multiple 49er world champions and America’s Cup holders have an uncanny ability to get the best out of every boat they step on, so it’s no surprise that while Burling steers the AC75 Tuke will be flight controller.
“The rest of the squad reads like a who’s who of yachting, from CEO Grant Dalton to a design team that includes Guillaume Verdier, not least sailors like Glenn Ashby and Ray Davies.”