13 Sep 2023

Team New Zealand ready to compete again

1:04 pm on 13 September 2023
The AC40 boats for an America's Cup preliminary regatta.

The AC40 boats for an America's Cup preliminary regatta. Photo: America's Cup

Team New Zealand returns to competitive racing this week for the first time since defending the America's Cup in Auckland in March 2021.

The first Preliminary Regatta of the 37th America's Cup will be contested this week in Spain in the four-person AC40 foiling monohulls.

All six teams - Emirates Team New Zealand, INEOS Britannia, Alinghi Red Bull Racing, Luna Rossa, American Magic and Orient Express Racing - will line up on the start line in Vilanova i La Geltru.

New Zealand's sailing line-up features the familiar faces of Peter Burling as skipper and helmsman, Blair Tuke and Andy Maloney as trimmers and for the first time Nathan Outteridge will race officially for the team in competitive America's Cup racing.

Josh Junior and Sam Meech will provide backup as reserve sailors for the team.

"It has been a very busy couple of months for the team here in Barcelona, but when you stop to think about the milestone of finally getting racing again, it's a pretty significant occasion," Burling said.

The new AC40 class, which will be used for the Women's America's Cup and Youth America's Cup in 2024 was designed by Team New Zealand and built by McConaghy's yachts.

The teams will compete in three fleet races on day one and day two with two remaining fleet races on day three will decide the top two teams who will face off in a one-off match race to find the winner of the first Preliminary regatta.

"Looking across the fleet I think it has to be the strongest line-up of sailors we have seen in a very long time and this is the first chance we get to face off this cycle, we get such limited time to race one another making every race critical for development of the sailing team." Burling said.

"We are now just over one year from the start of racing in Barcelona, so regattas like this are key to see how the sailing teams are developing.

"To win this regatta it is going to take a consistent high level of sailing. As the boats are one design in certain conditions that mean the performance difference between the boats will be really small and we expect the racing to be really close. It also depends on what conditions we get in Vilanova with big waves requiring a very different skillset to flatwater."

Racing starts on 16 September (NZT).

The second preliminary regatta is in Jeddah in November and the third preliminary regatta is in Barcelona in August next year.