New Zealand SailGP Team finally due to hit the water after enforced delay
New Zealand SailGP Team’s newly built F50 is set to be launched on the water for the first time next Tuesday.
The final touches are being applied to the team’s wing-sailed foiling catamaran, which arrived on island unfinished to avoid not being ready in time for next week’s SailGP season 2 opening Bermuda Sail Grand Prix presented by Hamilton Princess due to shipping delays brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The status [of the boat] is that the electrical systems are in place and have been activated,” Sir Russell Coutts, the SailGP chief executive, told The Royal Gazette.
“Then the hydraulic functions are operational; they’ve had the fluid put in them and they are being tested over the next days.
“The platform is in its full assembled state and the next stage is to get the foils in. Then they need to put the foils under the boat and do those calibrations and start to check the control systems and so forth that operate the foils and the rudders.”
Coutts, the seven-times King Edward VII Gold Cup winner, added: “The plan, if all goes well with those checks, is to commission the wing sail on Monday on actually one of the other platforms.
“And then Tuesday the New Zealand boat will be launched. Provided the wing test and everything go well on Monday, it will have its full wing and platform sailing on Tuesday.”
All operations at SailGP’s racing facility on Cross Island were suspended on Tuesday in compliance with the Bermuda Government’s Covid-19 restrictions in response to the recent surge in active cases, which has included five additional deaths to take the overall total to 17.SailGP applied for exemptions to continue its operations and the on-water safety trials during the Government’s seven-day stay-at-home order, which were granted on Thursday.
SailGP’s technical team is now working frantically to make up for the lost time to complete the work on Team New Zealand’s boat.
“They’ve all got the restrictions in terms of how long they can work for the Covid protocols, so we are working within those boundaries,” Coutts said.
“We can make this work. It’s very, very tight and clearly if something goes wrong with the sea trials we would need to really push hard to make sure we respond well.
“But I’m not excepting anything major to get in our way. This is the eighth boat that we’ve commissioned, so we are hoping that it will all go well and they will have ironed out any bugs by the time racing starts.”Should everything go according to the script, Peter Burling, the Team New Zealand helmsman and CEO, and his team-mates will only have four days to practice in the one-design F50 before they make their SailGP debut.“It doesn’t give them a lot of time,” Coutts said.
“But they are probably one of the most capable teams in the fleet jumping on, understanding and getting to grips with this technology.”
Team New Zealand, one of two new additions to the SailGP racing fleet, were due to arrive on island yesterday.
The team delayed their arrival to enable them to get their Covid-19 vaccinations in New Zealand
“They have all been vaccinated, so they have had both vaccination shots,” Coutts added.
“It’s obviously worth it now because they are fully vaccinated and ready to go.
“They will have to go through obviously their Covid checks and locked down the first 24 hours before they can move until they get a negative test.
“Then they should be able to move within their own bubble.”
The inaugural Bermuda Sail Grand Prix presented by Hamilton Princess will be held in the Great Sound on April 24 and 25
The event will broadcast live in the United States and Canada on CBS Sports and in Britain on Sky Sports, with added exposure in more than 150 countries.
“I think the sailing world and sports fans are really switched on,” Coutts said.
“All of the best sailors are here really and I think people are just intrigued to see who is going to come out on top in these perfectly equal boats.
“There’s no technology advantage to any one team.
“They’ve all got the same technology and that’s going to be fascinating to see who comes out on top.”