Video of the encounter revealed the big boat had a speed advantage – but not by much.
All up, the American Magic syndicate spent around five hours on the water on Tuesday morning. It was their first sail in around five months as they battled COVID-19 lockdown conditions in the United States and then made the crucial decision to get to Auckland early, giving up training time at home while their boat was shipped to New Zealand.
American Magic Skipper and Executive Director Terry Hutchinson was quietly delighted with the first hit out. “It’s just nice to be back out doing what we’re meant to be doing.
“They were perfect conditions to be out in the harbour, and out in the Hauraki Gulf. It wasn’t too windy, perfectly flat water. Reminds you a lot of Pensacola.”
In terms of the team’s overall plan, Hutchinson said that despite all of the unexpected challenges brought on by COVID-19, the campaign for the America’s Cup was on track.
“When we started our planning prior to COVID-19, it always had us sailing in early August here in New Zealand,” said Hutchinson after a valuable day of testing equipment and systems.
He continued, “Reliability and performance and racing are all completely linked together.”
“With the boat [today], it was great to see everything working reasonably well. To bring it together as a team is a great effort by everybody involved. There were a lot of pieces to the puzzle.”
Despite the difference in the size of the boats, seeing Team New Zealand sailing alongside a rival boat will give America’s Cup fans plenty to get excited about ahead of next year’s event.
A theme throughout the world of high-performance sailing, from junior events, to the Olympic Games and the America’s Cup, is that time spent at the racing venue correlates to racing success. Even when competing on a boat as advanced as an AC75, knowledge of the venue remains a key part of any Cup-winning equation.
“There is a high priority of sailing at the venue, of getting our team settled at the venue, and of learning,” said Hutchinson.
“A lot of us have raced on what is probably the main [race] course, and we’re going to use that. But some of us haven’t sailed on the other courses.
“I’m a big believer in being settled as a team and having us focus day in, day out on the sailing. Moving to Auckland at this stage has allowed us to do that.”