As we sail towards the opening regatta of the 36th America’s Cup World Series circuit held in Cagliari in the sun-soaked Mediterranean island of Sardinia, two of the America’s Cup Challengers, Italy’s Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli and Britain’s INEOS, are the first to be seen together in preparation for the first ever AC75 regatta. With both teams practicing in winds of up to the 20 knots range, the spies are zooming in eager to see how these revolutionary boats will perform.

The British Challenger Britannia recently left its home port of Portsmouth to train during the European months. There, until the first of the America’s Cup World Series regattas held at the end of April, Sir Ben Ainslie’s team and the Italians have the first chance to measure their relative performances in sight of each other on the same waters.


The New York Yacht Club’s American challenger ‘Magic’ and the Kiwi defender Emirates Team New Zealand are due in Sardinia in late March/ April to male up the four teams that will compete in the first ever foiling AC75 fleet racing regatta in the build-up to the 2021 America’s Cup. All four teams will move on to the south of England for the 2nd of the three World Series regatta in June, then to New Zealand for the December 17-20 regatta in the lead up to the Cup.


While the design rule around the foiling ‘Flying boats’ are set as the same for the three challengers and the Kiwi defender, all are distinctively different in hull shape and sail configuration. Interestingly, the American’s and the Brits have gone down a similar road in design as have conversely the Italian’s and Kiwi’s who have followed a similar concept. So, to see the two Sardinia based ‘Flying boas’ with distinctively different looking lines sailing in the same vicinity, it gives us oglers a chance to compare them.

The difference between the Italian’s and the Brit’s boats, are clearly defined. The uglier being the Brits with its high sided scooped out stern and pinched bow, it’s more like a ‘sugar scoop.’ Then we have the Italian elegantly stylised deck-lines as one would expect from the Prada fashion-house. Frankly, one wouldn’t call any of the ‘Flying boats’ aesthetically pretty with these ‘Jonathan Livingston Seagull’ like elbowed foils hoisted in mid-air off the Windward side. Nevertheless, it’s a new idea of go fast ‘blow boats’ with armored crews in crash helmets carrying personal oxygen packs in their space like life vests - that should make great viewing for this gladiatorial contest over the next 15 months and I cannot wait to see it all unfold into edge of your seat gripping action in Auckland from December 2020 to end of March 2021. Now that video is emerging of them roaring around just above the waves of Cagliari, we ‘journos’ who have been sitting on our hands waiting for something to write about can finally get out teeth into it.

So, which of the two have an edge in speed and handling in the various wind conditions? The opinions from we scribblers, photographers and spies will start to filter out. Who of the designers have got it right? What will they learn from each other that they can apply to the designs of their 2nd ‘Flying boats’ on the drawing boards now? Of course, I include the later arrivals NZ and America when they all start racing in late April.

There is a storm in a tea cup going on at the moment between the Italians and the Kiwi defense over wind limitations. ETNZ say 24 knots is the top however, the Italians being the Challenger of Record representing the other challengers want the limit lower at 20 knots for the Prada challenger series increasing to 22 knots for the America's Cup match in March. It's currently arbitration with a decision due in March so I won't comment on this at this stage until we see who beats up on who that's worth airing.

Hey, if you are planning to visit us in Auckland over this incredible period of time, reach out and we can help you plan a trip that works for all you want to achieve.

Until next time...