Understandably perhaps, there has not been a lot of information flowing from the America’s Cup syndicates since the global outbreak of the Covid 19 virus effectively pressed the world’s pause button several weeks ago.
Like the rest of us, the America’s Cup squads are mostly in some form of lockdown, waiting and watching to see how the pandemic plays out while they try to assess the impact of the worldwide shutdown on their campaigns.
So it was welcome news to hear this week from NYYC American Magic skipper Terry Hutchinson speaking in an interview with Gary Jobson courtesy of US Sailing.
In the interview Hutchinson revealed that, despite perfect sailing conditions in Pensacola where the team has based itself for the winter, and the implicit support of the city’s mayor to continue on the water training, the team had chosen to stay ashore.
“We have been ready to go sailing since the end of March but given the current environment and really prioritising the safety of our sailors, the safety of our team, and the safety of the Pensacola community, it felt best to stand down until we weather the proverbial storm,” Hutchinson said.
While some of the team are still reporting for work at the base, non-essential staff have been staying at home. For those at the base restrictions are understandably tight.
“When we come to work we go through temperature screening to respect the rues that in place and the social distancing guidelines that were sent out to us by the CDC,” Hutchinson explained. “The folks that don’t need to be here to work, they stay at home.”
With no sailing sessions to keep the sailors active, Hutchinson said maintaining the squad’s physical fitness level through the pandemic shutdown was a priority.
“The sailors right now are basically operating on two per day work out programmes,” he said. “All the gyms down here are closed so we have our mobile gym set up that two guys at a time rotate through during the day.
“Throughout that we will spend between 60 to 90 minutes on the grinding machine. It’s a lot of work and really the goal is now is not to lose where we had got to from a physical conditioning point of view.
“We want to maintain where we are at and then push it forward in the last nine months leading into the racing.”
Asked when and where the team’s second boat – under construction in the state of Rhode Island – will/might be launched, Hutchinson replied:
“We are still in a bit of flux right now trying to work out the answers to those questions. Boat two is scheduled to be done by late summer – late August or early September.
“We are in a tricky spot – as all the teams are – with regards to production,” Hutchinson admitted. “We need to continue to thank the Governor of Rhode Island because she has done a fantastic job of navigating through a difficult time – and the Rhode Island Marine Trade Association, these entities that are set up have helped us immensely in navigating through something that is incredibly difficult for everybody.
“We are fortunate that we are still building. While we are doing it in a reduced capacity, the team up there is still going along.”
Hutchinson also confirmed that the team’s second boat would not be launched in the United States but would be flown to New Zealand to save time and maximise training opportunities on the America’s Cup racecourse.
“The idea is to have the boat out of the shed in the late summer and she will go straight to New Zealand,” he said.
However, given the volatile state of the world as a result of the global pandemic, Hutchinson admitted to being nervous about the team’s plans around the second boat and the move to New Zealand.
“The timetable of getting the boat to New Zealand is tight and so it is nervous times because it’s not weeks, it’s days that tilt the timetable of development and so we are running a pretty tight schedule in that regard. It’s all very precarious. There are certain things we can control, and you work to manage that risk element of it, and then there are certain things that are out of our control.
“For all the teams and for all of us (everyone) it [the pandemic] is so far out of our control that we are approaching it in a way to try to make sure that when we make a decision, that has a certain level of contingency to it, that allows us to not disrupt too much the day in day out operation of our sailing team.
Watch the full interview below…