New Zealand. BMW ORACLE Racing’s summer sailing starts with 2 teams at Match Race Championships

Thursday, 23 November 2006

BMW ORACLE Racing is preparing for a session of America’s Cup training at a temporary team base in Auckland, New Zealand. About 38 team members are in New Zealand for the crew training session that starts next week with USA 71 sailing on the Hauraki Gulf.

The Auckland session kicked off with two teams competing at the New Zealand Match Racing Championships that started today and runs through Sunday 26 November. One team has CEO and skipper Chris Dickson at the helm, while the other is skippered by afterguard member Gavin Brady.

Dickson, along with Sailing Team Manager and race crew member Craig Monk, met with New Zealand media Wednesday as the team prepared for their first training session here since the Auckland summer of 2004 at the outset of the campaign for the 32nd America’s Cup.

Dickson and Monk said with the intensive research and testing of the early part of the campaign behind the Challenger of Record, the Auckland programme will focus on crew work and race training.

“It’s great to be back in New Zealand,” Dickson said. “We have basically completed our testing programme. We have spent four years on design and research and boatspeed development. Our objective here is to zero in on sailing the boats as well as we possibly can.”

Monk said the team will focus on fine-tuning crew work with many races in 2006 won and lost on crew work as the America’s Cup Class boats get closer and closer in performance. The objective would be to develop a core crew of 24 for racing in Valencia next year.

Up to the Christmas break, the team will train on USA 71, but in early January the squad will double in size and a second, newer generation America’s Cup class yacht will arrive for two-boat training through to February.

It was also confirmed that the team is discussing a possible  racing series for early next year here against Emirates Team New Zealand, now also training in Auckland. “We have been in contact with Emirates Team New Zealand,” Dickson said. “We will both benefit from racing each other. It will make both teams stronger.”

Dickson said the racing amongst the Challengers was becoming very close and the so-called big teams could not  take for granted a semi-final place in the Louis Vuitton series. But, he said the tight competition amongst the Challengers meant the standard was improving.

“It has been a great four years for the Challengers,” he said. Alinghi won the Louis Vuitton finals in 2003 with a 5-1 margin and claimed the America’s Cup 5-0. “In the 2006 Louis Vuitton Acts in Valencia, BMW ORACLE Racing, Emirates Team New Zealand and Alinghi each won an Act,” said Dickson. “I would say Alinghi are not as comfortable as they were. I would not say they are uncomfortable, but their level of comfort has significantly reduced,” he said of the Cup Defender.

Dickson said construction of the team’s second new yacht was still under way in the Seattle region of the United States. Dickson said the second boat would not come out of the same mould as USA 87, which he described as very manouevrable and quick to accelerate. “USA 87 is a very innovative boat. It was a big step forward in many areas,” Dickson said. “We learned a lot from USA 87, but our second boat is not out of the same mould. You will see more next year.”

Jane Eagleson

Last Updated ( Thursday, 23 November 2006 )