With Groupama Team France now bedding down in Bermuda, only one team remains off island, but already there are signs the Kiwis are coming.
The team recently released a video showing its advance party hard at work on what will be an impressive team base in the heart of the America’s Cup Event Village – comprising a working tent for the America’s Cup Class race boat, a gym, the design and support team offices and another structure for the two wing sails and waterfront hospitality area.
Andy Nottage, Emirates Team New Zealand Logistic & Base Manager, said support from locals in Bermuda has already made the job of the set-up crew easier. “One of the best aspects of doing our job up here has been the support of the Bermudian locals who continue to go out of their way to help us everyday.”
The team is shipping up to 50 containers to Bermuda, with over 90 listed staff spearheading the team’s final push ahead of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers May 26. It’s one of the biggest teams, who clearly mean business on and off the water.
As one of the most experienced, well resourced challengers, Emirates Team New Zealand is a perennial America’s Cup powerhouse, having won the event in 1995 and 2000 before losing the Cup in 2003 and then returning to the finals in 2007 and 2013.
Supported by returning title partner, the Middle-Eastern based Emirates Airlines, and backers like team principal and billionaire Matteo de Nora, described in NZ media as hailing from one of the richest families in Italy, and Sir Stephen Tindall, the New Zealand businessman and philanthropist, this ‘League of Nations’ set up will be hard to beat.
On the boat, for just the second time ever, the boat will not be skippered by a Kiwi. Instead, the Australian multihull specialist Glenn Ashby is in charge. With uber-talented 26 year old 49er Olympic Gold medalist Peter Burling at the helm, and a technology head-start courtesy of the abandoned Luna Rossa campaign, many Cup fans fancy the New Zealand challenge to once again meet the Defender ORACLE TEAM USA in the final.
Excitement levels were raised after the team launched its new America’s Cup Class boat to acclaim last month, revealing its grinders would be pedaling from a cycling position rather than turning handles with their hands in the more traditional set-up.
Whether the ‘cyclors’ are remembered as fondly as foiling was in the last Cup cycle as a brilliant innovation, or as a failed gamble like the ill-fated ‘hula’ of 2003, will be seen once racing starts this summer.
In the meantime, the Kiwis are expected to continue training with their new ACC boat in Auckland for at least a couple more weeks before flying the new boat to Bermuda, the air-freight option saving the team precious weeks of training time over its rivals.
How they then measure up on The Great Sound race course will be revealed shortly – the Kiwis are coming to Bermuda, completing the line-up at the host venue for the America’s Cup, which promises to be a compelling, competitive and memorable event starting on May 26th.