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American Magic Edges Out ETNZ For Round 1 Preliminary Victory


  • American Magic Edges Out ETNZ For Round 1 Preliminary Victory


    Having come into the final day of the first Preliminary Regatta of the 37th America’s Cup here in Vilanova i La Geltru sitting in fifth place, it was an outside bet at best that NYYC American Magic could climb the leaderboard and challenge for a spot in the Match-Race Grand Final.

    Ricardo Pinto / America's Cup

    But the America’s Cup is where the best sailors perform and the outstanding team of the day in Tom Slingsby, Paul Goodison, Riley Gibbs and Michael Menninger put on a masterclass of big-time regatta sailing, taking their chances, sailing unbelievably smoothly and scoring a three-race string of 2-1-1 to stun the rest of the fleet.

    Ricardo Pinto / America's Cup

    For many commentators who have watched NYYC American Magic in recent training sessions it was no surprise to see the team perform. In Barcelona training sessions and all throughout the winter out in Pensacola, Florida, they have been steadily, incrementally improving under the watchful eye of Team Principle Terry Hutchinson and the coaching team led by Tom Burnham. Today they delivered and although it was a shame for the spectators and the global viewing audience that in the Match Race Grand Final against Emirates Team New Zealand, the wind shut down and the time-limit for reaching the first mark was exceeded, thus giving the win to NYYC American Magic, no-one was in any doubt that the Americans sailed brilliantly today and thoroughly deserved to win.

    The concluding day was effectively an arm wrestle over the first three races between Emirates Team New Zealand and NYYC American Magic but there were some superb performances, most notably from the Orient Express Racing Team who, after just 15 days of sailing the AC40, finished in third much to the delight of their supporters and sponsors.

    Ricardo Pinto / America's Cup

    Alinghi Red Bull Racing and Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli had an almost ‘private battle’ out on the beautiful waters of Vilanova i La Geltru over the first two races but a gear failure for the Swiss ahead of the start of race 3 denied the fans the spectacle in race three. The only disappointing team were INEOS Britannia who found that their lack of time in the boat came back to haunt them – Sir Ben Ainslie will be looking to address this ahead of the next regatta in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia at the end of November.

    Ian Roman / America's Cup

    Grant Dalton, CEO of America’s Cup Events, was pleased overall with the regatta, saying: “I think Catalonia and Vilanova has been amazing. I was in the Race Village a few times and felt the atmosphere, the weather has done everything it can to disrupt us, but I think that what it says to me is that the America’s Cup is going to be a big event and I picked that up from the Volunteers and the people. I reflect on how well the event has been run, Leslie (Ryan) and the team have done a really good job and been well supported and that’s a good team for the future. There will be a pretty serious amount of de-briefing after this to tidy up around the edges because the America’s Cup is for keeps but the people of Vilanova and Catalonia, they’ve just been amazing and that’s the bit that makes it.”

    Quotes from around the teams:

    Tom Slingsby, Helmsman NYYC American Magic: “That was amazing, we put it together and yeah we got the result. We sailed well, a couple of little mistakes but when we made those mistakes it wasn’t in too critical a time so we were able to get three good results and then lead into that final race and with the wind, it was nice knowing that you were leading going into that one. After being in fifth place last night, going into today and getting a 2-1-1 and taking the win, that’s amazing. The champagne was very nice.”

    Blair Tuke, Trimmer Emirates Team New Zealand: “It would have been nice to have had a shot at them in that final race and obviously we would have backed ourselves, but they’ve been sailing incredibly well, fought back nicely and for us just a couple of unforced errors were the difference between winning and not so that’s something we will look at as a group. All in all, I think we’ve got to be very proud with how we sailed, we set the bar in that light wind which was really pleasing.”

    Kevin Peponnet, Helmsman Orient Express Racing: “We felt good. It was close calls with the others, it’s close racing, we feel much more confident on the boat day after day so that gives us a lot of confidence for the next event in Jeddah in a month and a half. It’s a really good start for us and an incredible start for the team to be on the podium after just 15 days of sailing…I think, because we started late, everyone is surprised about the performance except us, the sailors, we saw in the line-ups that we are not that far from the front of the fleet, in tactics it’s just a boat like any other boat and you have to find the right trajectory with good pace. It’s a foiling boat but it’s still a boat.”

    Jimmy Spithill, Helmsman Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli: “It was disappointing not to make the final but hats off to the Americans and the Kiwis. The Americans had a great day today, I thought they got off the line pretty well and they were able to sail clean races whereas we were stuck in the pack a bit today. I thought we sailed well in the first two to get to where we got, but in the last one after the battery change, we lost the comms system between me and Cecco (Bruni) so that was a lot more challenging than we expected it to be and what really cost us was a bad manoeuvre. It was challenging but we were in there. We had some real good races and battles, but it was a shame to finish on that note. It is what is and it’s just a shame that we didn’t get to see a real good battle in the final with the wind shutting off.”

    Arnaud Psarofaghis, Helmsman Alinghi Red Bull Racing: “For sure the mentality in the team is really positive. It’s a shame to end the regatta like that but I think yesterday we did work on the review thinking we could do better and it was great because the first two races we had a full-on battle with Luna Rossa in both of them, they managed to beat us in the first one, but we managed to beat them in the second one so that was great racing and it was full-on. All the teams are sailing really well and the difference between the teams are really narrow but the positive to take out was the performance of the boat, the performance of the team and so for the next regatta we go there with even more strength in us because we go there to win the regatta, for sure.”

    Ben Ainslie, Helmsman INEOS Britannia: “When I look at the overall programme, clearly we’ve prioritised the testing side of things too much. We thought we could get away with not putting too much time in the AC40 and still be there or thereabouts. But what this highlight’s is that, just like in any other boat, you’ve got to be out there getting the hours in…We didn’t sail well, we didn’t put enough time in the boat and there were some other underlying issues in terms of our preparation time in the boat so you put those three together, maybe we shouldn’t be surprised with the result. But any professional sporting team it’s not okay to finish last so we are going to have a good debrief with Jeddah in a few months, what are we going to do to get ourselves more competitive for Jeddah but of course not completely take our focus off the test boat and making sure we have the fastest AC75 for next summer – that’s the balance that we’ve got to find and clearly we’ve set ourselves up to fail here which is tough.”
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