America’s Cup: Strategy or Red Herring?

Published on June 15th, 2017

Are Oracle Team USA building a second boat ahead of their America’s Cup clash against Team New Zealand?

The New Zealand Herald reports that members of the defense team were photographed by an Emirates Team New Zealand carrying a section of their bows across to Dean Barker’s Team Japan compound next door.

Under the America’s Cup Protocol, only a small percentage of a team’s bow section has to be constructed in the country of origin of the syndicate. The photo suggests Oracle will be using the rest of the Team Japan platform to build a second boat.

Under the rules, Oracle is allowed to build two boats, but up until now there has been no sign of a second boat. They have instead effectively been running a two-boat testing programme through their close working relationship with Team Japan.

It’s unclear if the Team Japan boat was converted to be an Oracle boat, if it will serve as a back-up boat if USA-17 sustains damage during the Cup match, or if it will be a move-on from their first boat.

Additionally, since the rules preclude teams from training against each other, a second boat would allow Oracle to conduct two boat sessions between races against New Zealand.

Equally, it could be Oracle ramping up the mind games ahead of this weekend’s opening races by throwing out a red herring.

America’s Cup Match (June 17 to 28; may end earlier): The final stage of the 35th America’s Cup will see Jimmy Spithill’s Oracle Team USA lining up against Peter Burling’s Emirates Team New Zealand, with the winner to be the first team to claim seven points. However, the caveat is how the Defender, which won the Qualifiers held on May 26-June 3, will begin the series with a one point advantage. As the rules detail, the Challenger will carry a one point disadvantage (ie, minus 1), meaning they will need to win eight races to take the trophy whereas the Defender need only win seven races.

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