Auckland will go down to Level 2 while the rest of New Zealand will be on Level 1.
A further decision will be taken next Friday if Auckland will drop to Level 1 for the weekend starting Saturday March 13.
America’s Cup Event Ltd has announced that the highly anticipated Race 1 of the 36th America’s Cup Match will start shortly after 4 pm (NZT) on Wednesday 10th March after the Government announced a reduction in alert levels today.
Under COVID-19 Alert Level 2 or 1, the race schedule will remain as planned with two races per day – Wednesday 10th, Friday 12th, Saturday 13th, Sunday 14th, Monday 15th and each day after that. The current schedule has racing every day until either the Defender Emirates Team New Zealand or the Challenger Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli reaches 7 wins.
Racing under Level 2 will be restricted to only be sailed on either Race Course A or E.
(Under COVID-19 Alert Level 1 all courses will become an option to race on for the Regatta Director again.)
Under Level 2, the bars, cafés and restaurants and other retail outlets within the America’s Cup Race Village will open, and operate within Ministry of Health guidelines. Entertainment, LIVE racing on the Big Screens, and activations are unable to operate until we move back into Level 1.
A more elegant approach is to start the regatta on March 13 under the original schedule with days off and spanning two weekends with the Match concluding on Sunday March 21, and if not being sailed out on a daily basis from Monday March 22.
The latter arrangement would make the Match less prone to becoming a dead rubber due to capsize or collision incurring major damage. It would require sign-off between the Challenger and Defender as to the change in dates, which clearly hasn’t happened.
If the Match does finish in a 7-0 or 7-1 result, and ends on Sunday March 14, it will equal the shortest multi-challenger America’s Cup since 1980 being a five day regatta, the same as Fremantle in 1987 which was a best of seven series. The 36th Match in Auckland is a best of 13 series.
After lockdowns in New Zealand and prolonged challenger series, the 36th America’s Cup is finally set to start on Wednesday, March 10.
And for Team New Zealand’s Australian-born Glenn Ashby, it’s an opportunity to record a new chapter in an incredible career on the water.
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A 17-time world champion, Olympic silver medallist and now two-time America’s Cup winner, including as skipper of the victorious 2017 Team New Zealand yacht, Ashby has already had a storied career.
Born in Bendigo in Central Victoria, Ashby has become one of Australia’s greatest sailing success stories – and now New Zealand claim him as their own.
As an America’s Cup winning skipper, he was awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to sailing.
Having been working with Team New Zealand for the last 11 years based in Auckland, Ashby appears to be a man embraced by two nations.
“It’s certainly nice to be recognised over in New Zealand as an honorary Kiwi, I guess,” he told news.com.au.
“This has very much been our home for a vast majority of certainly our kids’ life times. We’ve spent most of their lives here growing up so we very much love it over here. But we miss Australia as well and really do enjoying being back there to see family and friends.
“Culturally, Australia and New Zealand are both very similar and we’ll keep an open plan about what the future may hold.”
While one of the iconic moments of Australia’s sporting history is the 1983 America’s Cup victory and the indelible quote from former PM Bob Hawke that “Any boss who sacks anyone for not turning up today is a bum”, New Zealand’s record in the famous race is far superior to Australia.
New Zealand have won the title three times, including defending the 1995 win in the year 2000, as well as falling short as the challenger three more times in the past 32 events.
An Australian team has not been sighted since 1987, when the US won back the America’s Cup.
While a race between Team New Zealand and Italy’s Luna Rossa may seem to have little interest for Australia, Ashby is one of two of Australia’s finest sailors in the event with two-time America’s Cup winner, multiple world champion and two-time Sydney to Hobart Champion Jimmy Spithill racing for Luna Rossa as a helmsman.