America's Cup: Team New Zealand expected to sail AC45's

AC45’s sea trial process will end in a few days.

At the international media conference held yesterday at the old Team New Zealand base in Viaduct Harbour, it was revealed that Team New Zealand would be one of the four teams having practice sessions in the new AC45 prototype which has been sailing in Auckland for the past 12 days.

The AC45 is expected to be handed over to America's Cup Management early next week, at which point she will be made available for use by teams entered in the 34th America's Cup.

Jimmy Spithill (AUS) nearest the camera and CEO Russell Coutts at the media conference 28 January 2011
America's Cup skipper, James Spithill when questioned on the order of the teams using the boat said that Oracle Racing and Mascalzone Latino would have the first use, followed by Team New Zealand and Artemis Racing.

The handover of the AC45 is a crunch point in the process of the 34th America's Cup - where teams announced, and otherwise, will have the opportunity to step up to the plate and run a practice session. For those who have been announced it will be a time to show they do have the on the water substance to their program.

America's Cup Regatta Management have been consistent in their stipulation that only teams entered in the 34th America's Cup will will be allowed to sail the AC45, developed as a junior version of the AC72 to be sailed in the Match and Louis Vuitton Cup.

A Notice issued by ACRM states in part: 'Competitors that do not have their own AC45 will get shared/equal access to this yacht until subsequent yachts become available.' Under the http://www.americascup.com/media/files/m1050_2010_09_09_Protocol%20for%20the%2034th%20Americas%20Cup.pdf!Protocol_governing_the_34th_Americas_Cup, 'Competitor' is a defined term meaning a Defender Candidate or a Challenger. (In the same document a 'Challenger means a yacht club (and its representative team) whose challenge has been accepted by GGYC and, for the avoidance of doubt includes the Challenger of Record.')

Or simply joining up the dots, to sail the ACRM owned AC45, you have to be a Competitor, which means that you lodged a Challenge for the America's Cup, and that Challenge must have been accepted by the Golden Gate Yacht Club, as Defender of the America's Cup.

The implication being that if Team New Zealand do sail the AC45 in Auckland as mentioned yesterday by the Defender, Oracle Racing, then one can assume that they have had their Challenge accepted.

When the first group of entries were announced for the 34th America's Cup, there was one unnamed entry which has always been kept confidential.

24/01/2011 - Auckland (NZL) - 34th America's Cup - AC45 sea trial n°5

In his column in the authoritative Seahorse magazine's January 2011 issue, World Sailing Team Association's Paul Cayard (also CEO of Artemis Racing) said 'Artemis Racing was the third team to enter the competition on 1 November and Team New Zealand followed shortly thereafter.'

Then it was revealed that Cookson Boats had taken delivery of a set of moulds for an AC45 and were building their first boat. It has not been confirmed whether Cooksons will build the hulls for the whole initial batch of 10 boats, or if they, in their role as Team NZ's long-standing builder would be building the AC 45's for the worlds top professional sailing team. Sail-World was told that moulds for the AC45 would be made available for other builders, but the project to date has only involved a group of New Zealand companies.

Dean Barker, skipper of Emirates Team New Zealand, takes the helm of an Extreme 40 for the first time on day 1 of the Extreme Sailing Series™ Almeria.
Paul Wyeth / OC Events
There has been little said officially by Team New Zealand who are undertaking a process of what they term 'due diligence' on an America's Cup entry, using a group of multihull and wingsail experts. It was made plain that they preferred a US venue and CEO Grant Dalton is on the record as being in favour of San Francisco - subsequently announced as the venue.

Their reticence in outing themselves as an America's Cup entry is attributed to the fact that Team New Zealand will not announce a definite entry until funding and key essentials are secure. The party line from the team on the subject of an America's Cup entry has been that they 'have until 31st March to make an entry'.

The team would not have any trouble fielding a crew with the likes of Dean Barker (Extreme 40 and A-class experience), Glenn Ashby (Olympic Tornado medalist and multiple World Champion, multiple A-class World Champion, Little America's Cup competitor and then BMW Oracle Racing coach in the 33rd America's Cup), Darren Bundock (Olympic medalist and multiple World Champion in the Olympic Tornado, Extreme 40 and racing multihull exponent) as well as crew from several America's Cup Challenges and twice winning Audi MedCups. Team CEO Grant Dalton is a past winner of the Jules Verne Trophy for fastest round the world circumnavigation in the 120ft catamaran Club Med.

Some comment was also made at the media conference by Russell Coutts, CEO of Oracle Racing that if there was sufficient private owner interest, the wing sailed AC45 could be developed as its own class and circuit with a mix of Youth, America's Cup and other professional/amateur/Olympic crews competing.

Darren Bundock and Glenn Ashby (now with BMW Oracle Racing) blast up the beat in the Medal Race of the 2008 Olympic Regatta in strong winds, a heavy, breaking cross sea and driving rain, to win the Silver medal in the Tornado multihull event.