Covid-19 forces cancellation of preliminary AC World Series Events
The three America’s Cup challengers (The United States, Italy, Great Britain) and Defender Emirates Team New Zealand were slated to begin their quest for the Cup in Cagliari, Sardinia as the three-city America’s Cup World Series Regattas was to have kicked off in this picturesque Italian venue with four-days of racing in front of an adoring home-town crowd.
It promised to be an exciting first look at the 75-foot foiling monohulls as the crews put the boats through their paces in a series of pre-cup races that serve as a real-life tune up for the Big Dance slated to begin less than a year away starting on March 6 in Auckland, New Zealand.
Now, the worldwide pandemic caused by the virus Covid-19 has thrown the schedule out the window as the initial matchup in Italy has been cancelled with the forthcoming second regatta in Portsmouth, England, likely to follow suite.
That leaves the qualifying teams up in the air as to where and when the speed merchants will get the chance to face off against one another prior to March, 2021.
Most teams are well on their way to completing their Auckland bases, with accommodations for up to 150-200 team members to begin the serious work of fine-tuning their boats prior to the first gun.
The trick will be in finding a time when New Zealand, which has enacted Level 4 virus protocols (a virtual lockdown of the population; no international travelers in or out until further notice;14-day self-quarantine restrictions) will allow the crews and their boats to enter the country.
Another World Series event is scheduled for late December in Auckland. Some teams, including the US entry American Magic, are hoping the organizers will schedule one or two more competitive races in Auckland after the first of the year.
The New York Yacht Club issued the following statement: “American Magic would welcome the addition of a further ACWS regatta in Auckland to replace the now cancelled regatta," they said, though they noted "this can only now be (done) by way of a collective agreement of all competitors."
Needless to say, there is some reluctance on the part of the Challenger of Record Luna Rossa to completely wipe out the Sardinia event.
For more complete information about the fate of the Portsmouth World Series Event, go to: Americascup.com.
Annapolis native and two-time Rolex Yachtsman of the Year Terry Hutchinson is the executive director and skipper of the New York Yacht Club entry, American Magic. His team has been prepping the boat in Pensacola, FL, for the past four months. They were to have packed everything up for the trip to Italy last week. The cancellation of the Italy event and the doubtful staging of the Portsmouth event has left Hutchinson and his team in limbo.
Presumably, they will use their on-water time to good advantage and will sort out a favorable course of action to move the boat and crew to New Zealand.
by Craig Ligibel