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COUNTDOWN: All eyes now looking forward

Published on April 22nd, 2013

Since its launch in August 2011, the nine event America’s Cup World Series has provided a worthy preview of what lies ahead this summer for the America’s Cup. But with that circuit now concluded, and its future uncertain until after the 34th Match, the focus now is 100% on AC72 development, with each team seeking to overcome their own obstacles:

Emirates Team New Zealand: First to launch, first to master foiling, but now lose nearly two months of training time as they move their base from Auckland to San Francisco. Their second boat has tested fast, but they won’t get to sail it again until late May. Challenger series starts July 7.

Luna Rossa Challenge: Despite starting a year later than their rivals, this team will ultimately have more development time on their only boat once the challenger series begins. But they too are in transit from Auckland, and won’t resume their sailing schedule until mid- May.

Oracle Team USA: After scrapping plans to train elsewhere, the defender stayed in San Francisco and made the most of the fickle winter conditions. The team has been in catch-up mode since their October capsize, but now have made good progress with boat #1 and plan to launch the deuce on April 23.

Artemis Racing: After committing to winter training in San Francisco, and in hopes of sparring with Oracle, the later’s capsize delayed the discover that their boat was off the pace. As the only team that did not design a fully-foiling boat, they are now making modifications to their yet unlaunched second boat. This conversion to high-altitude sailing will delay its arrival until late May.

Who has the racing edge in this murky business remains a mystery but answers will start to unfold very soon when they are training on the tricky San Francisco Bay under the same conditions.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the new Oracle and the new Artemis. Neither of their boats they have now are America’s Cup-winning boats,” said Kiwi team boss Grant Dalton.”Certainly in Oracle, you know that they have learnt all their lessons and the boat will be pretty special.”

Oracle’s original boat is, according to Dalton, “very quick in smooth water” – something that had been specifically engineered for the first seven races of the America’s Cup finals from September 7 when incoming tides should present flat surface conditions.

But if the final series gets drawn out – the first boat to win nine races takes the cup but there could be up to 17 races if it goes the distance – outgoing tides will come into play, meaning rough conditions.

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