The three America's Cup syndicates based in New Zealand could sail their new AC72s in a test regatta on Auckland's Hauraki Gulf.
America's Cup Race Management has offered Emirates Team New Zealand, holders Oracle Racing and Italy's Luna Rossa Challenge the possibility of a match-racing event in the AC72 catamarans which will be used in the 34th America's Cup off San Francisco Bay in 2013.
AC Regtta Director Iain Murray revealed that ACRM have expressed interest in travelling to New Zealand to stage the informal event so that they and the teams can test the match-racing capability and also have a trial-run for the for the new class ahead of the Louis Vuitton Challenger Series and 34th Match.
By September, New Zealand will be playing host to five of the exciting new 72 foot, wing-masted catamarans. As ACRM have not received confirmation from the teams, it is not yet known where or when the regatta will take place. Logic would suggest that with Team NZ and Luna Rossa being based in Auckland, the regatta will be held in the City of Sails. That would leave Oracle Racing to make the 70nm journey south from Northport near Whangarei.
The event would be a test-bed for the ACRM television and new umpiring systems that involve the use of extremely accurate positioning data, which are essentially a beefed-up version of Virtual Spectator.
"It would be a test session for us and we would use the full electronic controls, which means that race boundaries would be used and we would interface with the full electronics package." says Murray.
While ETNZ and Oracle are both running two-boat programmes, this would still be the first opportunity for all the teams to engage in full-scale, real-life match-racing in the new class of boats, with the added bonus of not having to pay any regatta frees.
Seeing 22-metre (72-foot) catamarans charging around the Hauraki Gulf at up to 40 knots is something that should excite even the staunchest of Americas Cup sceptics. The closest thing that Kiwis have seen to this is the spectacular training race sessions held between ETNZ and Luna Rossa in the Waitemata Harbour.
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