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Sitting down with the Challengers

Published on January 4th, 2021

Shirley Robertson

With the eyes of the sailing world focused firmly on the waters of Auckland, Shirley Robertson is in New Zealand to preview the Challenger Selection Series for the 36th America’s Cup.

And now with Pre-Christmas racing finished, this month’s two part edition of Shirley Robertson’s Sailing Podcast looks forward to the next installment of America’s Cup racing, the Prada Cup.

In Part 1, Robertson talks to her fellow Broadcast Commentators at the Cup, as Kenny Read and Nathan Outteridge discuss all they have seen in the World Series racing to date, and weigh up the strengths of each of the three Challengers as the Prada Cup draws near.

The trio dissect the performance of the three teams to date, look at where each team may be able to improve, and discuss some of the design differences apparent in each of the Challenger set ups.

In Part 2, Robertson sits down with three key players from the Challengers themselves, kicking things off with American Magic skipper Terry Hutchinson.

The only team to have beaten all three of the other teams in the December racing here in Auckland, American Magic put in a solid performance pre-Christmas, although Hutchinson was quick to point out that they still didn’t win the regatta. He did, however, reveal how happy the team were to be back out on the water mixing it up with their rivals…:

“Andrew Campbell commented that for the last eighteen months our simulator and our VPP have driven us to sail the boat in a different way and we’re learning how to sail the boat around how these tools have taught us to sail the boat, and they’re quite good, quite exciting, and yet it just hits you right in the face that all this equipment that you have is good, but it’s not real life, and so we have to get back on the water and do it in real life.”

From Challenger of Record Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli, Robertson talks to helm Francesco ‘Checco’ Bruni who uniquely co-helms the Italian boat with Australian Jimmy Spithill. Bruni starts by reflecting on the team’s performance during the December races…:

“We definitely felt we were very strong in the light wind and missing something in the stronger wind so our focus obviously is to work on that weakness, but we knew already that all our components for that period of the racing would have been good in the lighter wind.”

Robertson’s third chat is with a returning podcast guest, Sir Ben Ainslie, Team Principal and helm of British challenger INEOS TEAM UK. The British boat suffered performance issues during the December racing, at times struggling to get up onto the foils in the lighter airs.

Forthright and pragmatic in the press conferences that followed racing, sitting down with Robertson for the podcast, a determined Ainslie was hopeful that his team would be able to become more and more of a threat over the running of the Prada Cup.

“You can certainly change your measurement certificate in the Prada Cup through the different rounds….and also how you sail the boat and set the boat up. So I think you’ll see a lot of improvements through the Prada Cup, and whoever gets through, we’re certainly going to have to push each other hard for that Challenger to give the Kiwis a race, because right now they’re head and shoulders above the three other teams and we’ve really got to up our game to be competitive against them.”

The Prada Cup kicks off on January 15 to decide the Challenger for the 36th America’s Cup For event details, click here.

This edition of the podcast is in two parts:

Part 1

Part 2

The podcast is produced and written by Tim Butt – for further enquires, contact

Shirley Robertson OBE made history by becoming the first British woman to win Olympic Gold Medals at two consecutive Olympic Games. Shirley Robertson’s Sailing Podcast, produced and edited by Tim Butt of Vertigo Films, is available to listen on her website or via most popular podcast outlets, including iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcast, and aCast.

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