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Sail-World NZ - Kiwi venue laid to rest .. SailGP best yet .. Christmas deals .. Club racing starts

by Richard Gladwell, Sail-World.com/nz 19 Dec 2021 17:30 PST 20 December 2021
New Zealand Sail GP briefly leads the fleet from the start line © Bow Caddy Media

Welcome to Sail-World.com's New Zealand e-magazine for December 20, 2021. This editorial has been heavily edited for length. For the full version click here

It has been a big couple of weeks in the sailing world, particularly the New Zealand sailing scene.

Firstly, Auckland has emerged from the 100day plus lockdown, and we've been handed back some of the rights taken from us in the name of Covid.

It is now possible for sailors to participate in club racing - with some issues - provided the club is prepared to limit that participation to vaccinated members only. Quite what happens with the rest remains to be seen.

The same thinking applies to regional and national sailing contests, but most of these are a few months down the track. Again it remains to be seen how these are handled. Of course, there are ongoing issues with Covid variants, but we can only work with what you have in front of us.

On the America's Cup and Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron front, a request for a Special General Meeting discussing the conduct of the 37th America's Cup defence in Auckland has withdrawn. The RNZYS Annual General Meeting has been held, covering much the same ground under a lengthy General/Other Business segment.

Without an SGM, no motion could be put at the Annual General Meeting - and while everyone heard both sides - no vote could be taken. And that should have been the end of the matter. Maybe it is, maybe not.

Sail-World and one other journalist, Cup veteran Todd Niall, reporting for Stuff.co.nz, were the only media to stake out the meeting. We interviewed ETNZ CEO Grant Dalton and RNZYS Commodore Aaron Young. Our report of this meeting. can be read by clicking here. Alan Sefton a former Executive Director of Team New Zealand, in the Blake era, and part of the senior management of New Zealand Challenge in the Fay era gives his take here.

Anyone close to the action in the last America's Cup and its preliminaries - going back to the starting point of the win in Bermuda - can understand ETNZ's reluctance to defend in Auckland in the current economic and political environment.

The 37th America's Cup entries opened on December 1, with three being received - whether that is additional to that of INEOS Britannia (who had already entered) remains to be seen. So far, two have outed themselves, with at least two more waiting in the wings, and maybe others are there outside of the media spotlight.

The bottom line is that there look to be at least six teams in the next America's Cup (including the Defender) - which is back to where it was in Bermuda, except with all the boats being independently owned. Once the venue is announced, there may well be more commercially funded teams coming through - particularly if AC37 is held in Europe.

All the teams that have entered to date are billionaire-backed and are not dependent on commercial funding. Being billionaire-backed, the commercial unattractiveness of Auckland is not an issue, and with their performance and weather data from the Prada Cup and America's Cup - they start with an advantage.

Outside the current entries, any new teams will most likely be commercially backed. Knowing the venue, and the effect on sponsorship with Diminished Returns clauses being exercised in that jurisdiction, must be understood by teams before serious sponsorship proposals can be fully developed.

Getting commercially backed teams back into the Cup is essential for the long-term health of the America's Cup. Looking back, the billionaire-backed teams only last a couple of cycles before their owners tire of having their deep pockets drained.

The exception is Luna Rossa - which has had the generous backing of the Prada group for over 20 years - having challenged for seven America's Cups. Larry Ellison challenged/defended on five occasions.

The bottom line is that there is a lot of water to flow under the bridge for the 37th America's Cup. What is happening now does not have a lot of influence later. The only caveat is that you must have a design exercise running or are planning on buying a design package from the Defender.

On that basis, $60million for a first-time challenger is feasible, while the super teams run double that budget.

Much has been made of the entry/return of Alinghi after sitting out the last three Cups. Their integration with the Red Bull F1 team follows a similar path to INEOS Britannia, who now work out of the Mercedes AMG facility in Brackley, 70 miles northwest of London.

Comments that Luna Rossa is hooking up with Ferrari are speculation only. ETNZ, through their Chief Designer Dan Bernasconi, already have a connection to McLaren Racing, and ETNZ has a 30 strong design team, who served them well last time.

In previous cycles, various teams connections to companies in the aerospace industry have been played up. But looking back, the boats didn't seem to be any quicker, and as ETNZ found in 2003, it is easy to be blinded by science.

Astute Olympic Funding

On Friday, High-Performance Sport NZ announced their funding for the next Olympic cycle - which is just three years duration. Given all that has gone on, HPSNZ seems to have taken a more balanced view than previously, which is heartening.

Yachting NZ came out of it rather well. While the medal return from Tokyo2020 might not have been on target. The reality is that we placed in the top five in three events out of six events contested and scored a tenth in the Men's Laser. Last month, Tom Saunders' win in the Laser Worlds was a welcome boost to that scorecard.

The good news is that HPSNZ has managed to see past the immediate record of the NZ Olympic sailing team. With the announced funding level increased to $4.8million per year for the next three years, it allows the Olympic side of sailing to be re-shaped without being penalised for its past.

SailGP blast

SailGP Sydney concluded, with the first three races being sailed on Friday, in lighter winds and three (including the final) on Saturday in a fresh sea breeze that gusted to 25kts.

If you wanted to see some seriously difficult conditions, then see the video of the 18ft skiffs racing on Sunday, when they were side-swiped by the micro-burst that devastated the Northern Beaches. Amazing conditions - and a great commentary and video from the SailMedia team. Click here for full coverage.

Back on SailGP - don't miss Bow Caddy Media's great coverage of the event with four video interviews with several skippers - giving an insight that we don't get through the standard coverage, and the skippers talk frankly about the event and what they are up against for the final round in San Francisco. It's very refreshing to hear this perspective and many thanks to Dale and Crosbie Lorimer for getting down to the venue, and doing these interviews.

Saturday was the first SailGP event that got us on the edge of our seats. The teams were definitely sailing at the edge, with plenty of power, and not a lot of control, with the teams' skill very obvious. There were no capsizes or pitchpoles on Saturday, which is a testament to the crews and the event. The combination of small rigs and high-speed foils was the correct configuration for the day, and when the other two rig options are used in their proper range, the event can only improve.

It was not a good series for either "New Zealand" crew.

The Peter Burling and Blair Tuke led NZ SailGP had a better day on Saturday, with fast, in control power. But on Day 1 on Friday, they paid a heavy penalty for their mistakes, without the ability to recover placings that other teams have displayed in similar situations.

They did much better on Day 2, but the damage had been done.

The other "kiwi" crew Japan SailGP, helmed by newly signed ETNZ sailor Nathan Outteridge, sailed well in the first couple of races but got in the way of "Crash" Ainslie, who repeated his feat of the opening day of the 2017 Louis Vuitton Trophy in Bermuda. The Brits were apparently not keeping a lookout to leeward. Ainslie said later they didn't see the Japanese boat and cut across their course. At the last minute, the Brits took some avoiding action, but their leeward foil angle lifted the leeward hull high above the windward hull of JapanSailGP before his daggerboard struck their bow, slicing it off.

Nina Curtis, a former Olympic Match racer, effectively won the final for AustraliaSailGP with her call of the overlap being broken over the USsailGP team approaching the first mark. Her call, alerting skipper Tom Slingsby to the opportunity, allowed him to execute a daring high-speed bear-away and snatch the lead at the mark, and the 2012 Olympic Gold medalist retained it for the rest of the race.

The star-turn of SailGP on Day 1, Friday, was another Kiwi, Phil Robertson, with the former world match racing champion, putting the rest of the fleet to the sword in Sydney. Hopefully, he has been a secret signing for ETNZ.

Great deals for Christmas

Next week is the last week before Christmas, and we have some excellent advertiser deals for our readers. Altex Coatings are offering the opportunity to win back the cost of their anti-fouling paint. Altex is running some excellent advice in the often confusing world of anti-fouling paint and which is best for you and your boat.

A new advertiser, Fujinon, is offering. $300 off a select range of Fujinon Binoculars Again, there is an excellent explanation of how image-stabilised binoculars work. This feature enables Fujinon to provide double the power/magnification over the standard 7x power, which has been about as much as can be handled in a marine situation.

We've been promoting some great deals that are available from NZ Sailcraft, who are importing several containers of boats which will be available for pre-Christmas purchase. Hayden Whitburn and his team have RS Feva's available as a two-person dinghy, the RS Aero as a single-person dinghy, and the RS Quest for groups of up to four sailors of varying ages. NZ Sailcraft has just advised they have a couple of RS CAT 14's coming in as well. All these boats are great off the beach boats.

With international travel looking further away than ever, why not raid your travel fund, and pick a new dinghy for you and your family for the Christmas/New Year break.

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

For all the latest news from NZ and around the world, see the top stories below.

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 to sailworldnzl@gmail.com

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