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The biggest pressure of an America’s Cup campaign is that the clock never stops ticking down to the first race. Time is a resource you can never get enough of, the other is money.
It is a relentless drive to maximise the resources you have, no matter what they are. But what sets Emirates Team New Zealand apart from the other teams that are far better resourced in both time and money is the die-hard Kiwi culture that so often sets New Zealand , its people and organisations apart from the rest of the world.
At this time of year, in the lead-up to Christmas, most people in everyday lives are happy to see the clock tick down to a well deserved Christmas break, a relax with family and a reset for the next year.
However, for the 90 committed and focused team members at Emirates Team New Zealand, Christmas provides a mere few days to put their heads up for a breath of air and a brief look back on what has been achieved in 2016 before diving straight back into the next six months, which will define New Zealand’s 35th America's Cup campaign.
Looking back, just under six months ago we launched our first in-house-designed and -built test boat. It seems like a lifetime ago in that the systems and developments and what we have learned have progressed so much in that time - from the first day on the water and that magical moment when the boat suddenly lifts up out of the water for the very first time and begins to foil so effortlessly. The first step in justification that the basics work. It’s always a moment to treasure… because before long you have to be continually ‘sailing like you stole it,’ on the edge, testing and pushing for development.
But now the results of close to 50 days of on-the-water testing, countless days and nights in the boat shed, three years of design work and millions and millions of units of data compiled have collectively come to a tipping point moment where decisions and lessons, if they have not already done so, must be poured into the final details of our America’s Cup Class race boat, which is weeks away from launch. These weeks are perhaps the most frantic, most highly stressed time of the campaign: the die is almost cast, the boat is nearing the completion of its structural build and the assembly and fit-out have begun.
Timelines are so crucial they need to be met on a daily basis. Every day until the very first race on Friday 26 May 2017 is completely accounted for. There is no doubt that the other competitors, nearly all of whom are now based in Bermuda with the luxury of extra time passed and financial resources, look strong.
This is David vs multiple Goliaths on a grand scale. There isn't much point worrying about it; Emirates Team New Zealand can only control what the team can control from here, and you just have to look around and see the talent of the people within the team to know we have the ability to catch our competitors up, overtake them and bring them down with collective belief and focus, Kiwi ingenuity and a bit of old-fashioned mongrel.
Speaking of which, one of the highlights of 2016 for not only the team but all of the country was watching Peter Burling and Blair Tuke completely dominate the 49er class at the Rio Olympics. A very good example of a well planned and executed campaign that Emirates Team New Zealand plans to emulate. Merry Christmas from everyone at Emirates Team New Zealand. Rest well, it is going to be a massive 2017.
From the team at Emirates Team New Zealand