SailGP teams to launch Thursday ‛dress rehearsal’ – The Royal Gazette | Bermuda News, Business, Sports, Events, & Community

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SailGP teams to launch Thursday ‛dress rehearsal’

New Zealand SailGP Team's newly built F50 being christened at Cross Island on Tuesday

Preparations for the inaugural Bermuda Sail Grand Prix presented by Hamilton Princess will shift into high gear today with the highly skilled professional teams scheduled to take part in a series of practice races in the Great Sound.

With the exception of Japan, the remaining seven national teams will be involved in the exercise to commence at 3pm.

“All eight boats will be out but only seven will be racing,” Sir Russell Coutts, the SailGP chief executive, told The Royal Gazette last night. “Japan will not be racing tomorrow because they’re doing some structural testing on one of their foils. But all the other boats will be practise racing, starting at 3pm.”

The racing fleet will also take part in additional practice tomorrow, starting from 2pm.

“It will be a full dress rehearsal of the racing, so that’s what we’re looking at this stage,” Coutts added.

Meanwhile, New Zealand team ticked another box in their campaign after launching their newly built boat yesterday.

The black foiling catamaran underwent a series of on-water tests to its various systems without its wing-sail.

“The new boat got launched; the boat only, not with the wing,” Coutts said. “They towed it around, checked all the foils were operational and everything, but it was pretty windy to go sailing so they decided not to go sailing. So tomorrow will be the first time it actually sails.

“I haven’t heard how the systems went today, but that would sort of seem to indicate that it all checked out as it should; otherwise, I probably would have heard about it.”

New Zealand were the last of the eight national teams to launch their boat, five days after their delayed arrival on island last week.

There had been fears the team’s boat would not be ready time for the weekend. Final touches were being applied to their boat, which arrived on island unfinished to avoid not being ready in time for the regatta because of shipping delays brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, when all operations at Cross Island were suspended in compliance with the Bermuda Government’s seven-day stay-at-home order in response to the recent surge in active cases.

However, work resumed after SailGP successfully applied for exemptions to continue its operations and the on-water safety trials during the Government’s tightening of Covid-19 restrictions.

Peter Burling’s team tested their new wing-sail on rival Great Britain’s boat on Monday, in what was a collaboration between the defender and challenger of record for the 37th America’s Cup in 2025, and officially christened at Cross Island the next day.

Burling and his team-mates are now in a race against the clock coming to grips with the boat’s new features.

“We definitely feel we like we are slightly on the back foot, having come into this event pretty late and just trying to figure it out as we go along, really,” he told The Royal Gazette.

“We obviously have a very tight training window building into this event. But I think we are definitely very confident that we will be able to learn and adapt to how to sail these boats well very quickly.

“We just really need to work as a group on making sure we sail the boat well, do the manoeuvres well and then the result will take care of itself.”

Team New Zealand are making their debut in the global SailGP championship.

“We are really excited to make our debut as New Zealand team in the SailGP league,” Burling said. “And it’s pretty cool to also be doing that in the Great Sound, where we had some pretty incredible success as the New Zealand team four years ago when we first won the America’s Cup.”

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Published April 22, 2021 at 3:45 pm (Updated April 22, 2021 at 3:45 pm)

SailGP teams to launch Thursday ‛dress rehearsal’

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