The 36th America’s Cup may still be more than two years away but there is plenty going on around the world as the Cup-holders Emirates Team New Zealand and the three challenging syndicates trying to unseat them all beaver away on the design of a high-tech foiling monohull capable of winning the Cup.
And there could yet be another one or more Challengers joining the fray alongside American Magic, Ineos Team UK, and the Italians of Luna Rossa.
In an interview with Italian newspaper La Stampa, Matteo de Nora – team principal at Emirates Team New Zealand – said he believed a second United States team was the most likely scenario.
“There are several teams interested,” de Nora told La Stampa.
“A second American challenge, a Norwegian, the French who have never given up, the Swedes of Artemis who have never really left the game. The hypothesis of a second American challenge seems the most likely to me.”
De Nora was sceptical about the prospects of a second Italian America’s Cup entry either from the fledgling Columbus 2021 campaign, or from a rumoured second group connected to entrepreneur Fabio Massimo Covarrubias.
“I ignore their plans,” he said. “Perhaps the latter have the money, but they lack experience and they don’t have a team.
“I hope they can make it. Maybe if the two groups get together. But the clock is ticking. In about 100 weeks there will be the Prada Cup and there are not so many top sailors available, even less top technicians available needed to build a competitive team.”
De Nora dismissed the suggestion that having such a low number of challenges counted as a failure for the Kiwi team.
“We made a specific choice after winning the America’s Cup in Bermuda in 2017 [to] organise the most technologically advanced sailing race ever seen, while honouring the history that makes the America’s Cup so unique – even at the cost of having fewer participants.
“This is the premise on which the new boat was born – a monohull with foils. A complex, complicated and fast machine. Although more stable than the previous catamarans, futuristic.
“[It’s] a boat that will have a lasting effect. In five years, we will probably see these innovations also on leisure sailboats. We had already revolutionized the sail world when we introduced the foils on the multihulls, now we are doing it with the monohulls.”
De Nora said the loss of sponsor Pirelli to Luna Rossa had been inevitable, but said the Kiwi team was on a solid financial footing.
“If Luna Rossa had not withdrawn in 2015, Pirelli would have probably been with them in 2017, he said. “We are pleased to see them again in New Zealand.
“Money is never enough, but three-four institutional sponsors have confirmed their support [for Emirates Team New Zealand]. Then there are the Government and other local sponsors who support the America’s Cup as an event. The government in particular has borne the cost of bases and structures and made them available for five years.”
Asked who he personally feared the most among the current three challenging teams de Nora singled out the English squad INEOS Team UK, led by skipper Ben Ainslie with huge backing from the United Kingdom’s richest man Jim Ratcliffe
“They are all very strong,” he said. “I think the most dangerous are the British: they have money, determination, ideas – and a sponsor who knows what he’s doing.”