Two America's Cup US yachts now in Auckland for 2021 race

By BERNIE WILSON 04 September 2020, 12:00AM

America’s Cup challenger American Magic took another big step in its campaign when it took delivery of its second yacht, Patriot, in Auckland, New Zealand.

The 75-foot foiling monohull was flown from Providence, Rhode Island, on a giant Antonov cargo plane and then trucked through Auckland’s empty streets to the team’s base early Friday morning, New Zealand time.

“It’s an exciting day because it always feels like each one of these moments is a great demonstration for the team of where we’ve come from and where we’re going, and the hard work we’re putting in,” Terry Hutchinson, American Magic’s skipper and executive director, said in a phone interview. “As we see the boat in front of us, we know there’s a lot of hard work to do.”

American Magic, which represents the New York Yacht Club, is the first of the four teams for the 2021 America’s Cup to take delivery of a second-generation boat. The other teams, defender Emirates Team New Zealand and challengers INEOS Team UK and Luna Rosa Prada Pirelli Team, all plan on having two boats. The British and Italian teams are in the process of relocating to Auckland.

Hutchinson said Patriot won’t be ready to sail for another six weeks. The crew plans to continue to sail its first boat, Defiant, through September, and then will transfer some components from the first boat into Patriot before it can sail. Defiant will be kept on hand in case there’s an accident with Patriot.

“There will be load tests, a quick crack of a bottle on the bow and she’ll go,” Hutchinson said.

It took 72 hours to transport Patriot from Providence to Auckland, with refueling stops in Chicago and Honolulu.

“I’m glad she’s here and were looking forward to the next month in Defiant,” Hutchinson said. “It’s bittersweet that we never got to race her. My mom christened the boat and it’s too bad we didn’t get to venture out on to the race course. She served her purpose for us and we look forward to moving into Patriot.”

Defiant was christened by Hutchinson’s mother, Patti, last September in Rhode Island. Two warmup regattas in Europe in the spring were canceled due to COVID-19, so there has yet to be a race in the AC75 class.

Due to the pandemic interruption and the time it took to ship Defiant to Auckland earlier this year, American Magic will have sailed the yacht only 70 days by the time the team switches to Patriot. The team will have roughly 2 ½ months to get it ready for the Prada Cup for challengers, which runs Jan. 15-Feb. 22. The winner advances to face Team New Zealand in the 36th America’s Cup from March 6-21.

There will also be a warmup regatta in mid-December.

Hutchinson credited the build team in Bristol, Rhode Island, for keeping construction on schedule while also following pandemic protocols.

“We were incredibly fortunate all along the way,” he said. “We were fortunate Governor Raimondo kept the state manufacturing open and fortunate all our team members took the virus seriously and followed all guidelines put in front of us by the state of Rhode Island and the CDC. Having that type of leadership from our government is really invaluable. It takes away any subjectiveness on the team’s part.”

American Magic was the first team to launch a full-size test boat, “the Mule,” in October 2018, and the first to sail and foil on an AC75 shortly after launching Defiant.

In full flight, the fantastical-looking sloops ride on hydrofoils on the rudder and the leeward foil arm, with the hull and windward foil arm completely out of the water. When the boat tacks or jibes, the foil arms switch positions.

Hutchinson said it remains to be seen if American Magic is the favorite.

“I don’t even really think about it. Every team has a plan that it thinks is a winning plan. We have a plan we think is our plan to succeed and we just have to follow it. If we’re right, it will be obvious on the race course. If it’s wrong, then we’ll evaluate why and learn and move forward.”


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By BERNIE WILSON 04 September 2020, 12:00AM

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