The COVID pandemic has thrown a number of challenges our way over the past six months, as it has been for everyone around the world. The circumstances we found ourselves in focused us to slow down and think long and hard about our priorities and how we make the most of the time we have left before the 36th America’s Cup. This meant the last three months have been a very positive period for the team. We have achieved a great deal and I’m proud of how we got through it together as a team.
It has been an especially positive period on the water. In fact, I can say we’ve probably had one of the best summers of sailing ever as a team in the UK. Being forced off of the water for a few months was, of course, frustrating. As they say in the America’s Cup the one thing you can’t buy is time. From May through to August however we had a brilliant sailing period. Getting out on the water regularly has been so valuable to us as a team because the learning curve on these brand new AC75 boats is so steep that every time we went out, we learnt a huge deal. The British summer really turned it on for us!
We have now finished sailing in the UK and are currently halfway through relocating our entire team to New Zealand. Our first AC75, Britannia I, is already on her way to Auckland on a ship. Our second AC75, Britannia II, is currently being fitted out before she too goes to Auckland on an Antonov cargo plane at the end of September. Many of the team are already in New Zealand. Others, including myself, are due to head out in the next few weeks.
As you would expect when relocating this many people halfway across the world it’s a very busy period and there’s a lot of pressure now on the team to get everything in order before we all head out but equally, we are all very excited to head to Auckland and take this next big step in our America’s Cup challenge.
Once we get to Auckland, and through the mandatory two-week quarantine period, we are aiming to be out on the water in our new AC75, Britannia II, in October. That will give us a two-month period of productive sailing before we head into the Christmas regatta, which will be the first time all these teams have lined up together in a race environment. That will be a fascinating period and will be met with a lot of intrigue. Given this is such a new class of boat there may well be some big differences between the teams when we first line up against each other. For me, however, this Cup feels a lot like the 34th America’s Cup in 2013 in that the key to winning will be how quickly each team can develop and keep developing throughout the competition period.
We can’t wait to set sail in the Waitemata Harbour. New Zealand is such a beautiful country and Auckland is fantastic place to sail. Ultimately, however, we are there for only one reason – to win the America’s Cup for Britain. It won’t be easy, but we’re looking forward to the challenge ahead.