It is the most anticipated day of any America’s Cup campaign. Race 1 of the America’s Cup Match is now precisely one year away and will be raced in the blue Mediterranean waters just off the Barcelona beach front.
For Emirates Team New Zealand, representing the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, the team have experienced the uncertainty, the anxiety, the nerves and the excitement of Race 1 more than any other team. It will be the 8th time the New Zealand team has lined up for the start of the America’s Cup Match.
Despite the milestone ahead, it is what is happening now and what has already happened that is likely to define success or failure for Emirates Team New Zealand as Kevin Shoebridge, COO explains, “To be honest, we aren’t focused too much on race day one of the America’s Cup right now. It is always worthwhile taking stock of where we are in our campaign, you are always conscious of the clock ticking but if there is one thing that we always need to be careful of it’s not getting ahead of yourself as a team, sticking to our overall plan and continuing to keep focused on the detail day to day.”
Emirates Team New Zealand are coming to the end of a very intense time in Barcelona, a carefully choreographed program testing, racing and developing getting used to the highly talked about conditions sailing Te Rehutai across all points of the wind and swell range.
“We have been running a pretty efficient on water program up here,” explained Shoebridge.
“There has been a lot going on with the AC40’s, racing in Vilanova and then of course on the AC75 extracting as much data and knowledge as we can on conditions, on systems and of course equipment. The sailing conditions here in Barcelona have been amazing, we couldn’t have asked for better really. It is going to be a very challenging place to race and the whole team need to be ready for anything.
“I think there will be a vast range of race conditions, so what we see on race day one might be completely different to what we see on race day five. Boats will have their different sweet spots as the conditions change. So, looking across the fleet it is going to be a fascinating America’s Cup, and we need to be on our game to win against arguably the strongest line up of challengers in very long time. So as a team we have been ensuring we make the most of every day on the water and importantly in the shed as well.”
Meanwhile back in New Zealand the operations are equally as busy for the design and build teams at the Wynyard Wharf base and North Shore production facility where some of the most critical decisions and actions of the campaign are underway including the construction of the next generation AC75 that will be on the start line of the America’s Cup Match in one year’s time.
Geoff Senior, Emirates Team New Zealand Construction Manager explains how one year out – it is pressure on for the boat building team. “For the build team, right now is our America’s Cup regatta. For every guy and girl in the shed, this is our time to deliver for the team. We run a demanding build schedule for the construction of the new boat to ensure we can deliver it on time for the fit out and eventual launch and commissioning here in Auckland.
It takes a full team to produce a new AC75. From the sailor’s input as the clients, to the designers and engineers, the high-quality construction drawings from the draftsmen, the skilled boatbuilders and young apprentices at the boatyard and even the materials that are required to be purchased up to 12 months prior to the start of construction. Every aspect must line up before production of the thousands of parts can all come together.”
It is Senior who works with the design and build teams to find the balance between designers and engineers who habitually run the clock down to create the best possible design solutions, and the boatbuilding team that are always striving to build the increasingly complex AC75’s better and faster than the previous boat, and where hours of labour are required to save just hundreds of grams of weight.
Head of Design Dan Bernasconi explains, “While a lot of the team have been in Barcelona, the core of the design team has remained here at home in New Zealand, staying just one step ahead of the build team, and fine tuning every detail of the new AC75. It is an exciting time, and while publicly all eyes are on the recon and what’s happening on the water in Barcelona, behind the doors of our base it’s our busiest time.”
Kevin Shoebridge’s summary: “There is so much that will unfold in the next year, and that’s before new AC75’s are launched and racing in the Challenger Selection Series even begins.What I do know is that it will be an amazing event here in Barcelona, and Emirates Team New Zealand will need to be operating at its very best to win the America’s Cup again against a formidable challenger whoever it is.”