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Sitting down with the contenders

Published on March 5th, 2021

Shirley Robertson

With the final races of the 36th America’s Cup Match now just moments away, this month’s edition of Shirley Robertson’s Sailing Podcast sees the double Olympic gold medalist previewing the two boat showdown in another two part podcast from the heart of the action in Auckland, New Zealand.

Robertson kicks off Part 1 of the podcast with an interview with the port side helm of the successful Challenger, the AC36 Challenger of Record, Luna Rossa’s Francesco Bruni.

Bruni has been at the forefront of the Italian team’s significant improvements in performance over this campaign, and is both realistic and candid as he discusses their Prada Cup win. He attributes much of their success to the calm and level head of co-helm, Jimmy Spithill, and is both respectful and hopeful when quizzed about their Cup opponents, Emirates Team New Zealand…:

“We know they’ve been pushing a lot their package for speed, they have small foils, a small rudder, and sometimes they lose control a bit because of that. They are not unbeatable I think but they will definitely be hard opponents to be sure. And they have experience, their whole campaign, package, people, experience I think is the biggest asset they have.”

Francesco Bruni

Following on from the discussion with Bruni, Robertson talks to Emirates Team New Zealand super coach Ray Davies. Davies is a mastermind of the new world of Cup racing, and has been a proud member of the Kiwi outfit for almost two decades.

The gossip around the harbor side in Auckland of late has been of the team’s sensational speeds out on the water and Davies is quick to dispel any chat that the team is anything but race ready.

While the Challengers have all been fighting out against each other, the Defender has been clocking up the training miles out in the Hauraki Gulf, and as competition draws near, Davies is clear on how pleased he is with the team’s progress…

“We just get more comfortable all the time now, sailing in breeze. With these type of boats you get a little nervous when you hit that fifty knot mark, but now it’s just standard and once you get comfortable with that, you’re just looking for more and more. The guys are doing an incredible job, sailing the boat, and once you know the limits of the boat and the boat’s working well, then you can just push harder and harder.”

Ray Davies

Both Bruni and Davies discuss their thoughts on their respective opponents, their thoughts on how the racing has been to date, and how and where the match may be won and lost.

In Part 2, Robertson looks back on the Prada Cup Challenger Selection Series with fellow broadcast commentator and one-time America’s Cup helm Kenny Read. The pair discuss the performance of the three Challengers, before being joined by special guest, David ‘Freddie’ Carr.

Freddie, a one-time Extreme 40 team mate of Robertson’s, is the lynch pin of the INEOS TEAM UK grinding unit, and still sore from the Prada Cup Final exit, is candid and honest as he talks about the performance of the successful defender, Luna Rossa, but also about the British team’s rollercoaster Challenger Series as they bounced back from serious hardware issue heading into the regatta…:

“It was phenomenally hard, for the design team, they realized there was a problem with what was going on with the boat, with the foils, we had a problem with what was going on with the boat and we had to figure out how to solve that problem…

“We then had about a week to figure out how to sail this modified boat… As soon as we put the boat back in the water, after the designers figured out the problem…we knew we were back in the game!”

Ahead of the first to seven wins match, it’s an insightful listen to augment enjoyment of the upcoming broadcast.

This edition of the podcast is in two parts:

Part 1

Part 2

More information:
• America’s Cup format, standings, and how to watch online: click here.
• Complete America’s Cup coverage: click here
• Additional America’s Cup information: click here

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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