First time racing in fresh water for Emirates Team New Zealand and their rivals

Emirates Team New Zealand are again in race mode, this time at the 6th event on the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series in Chicago, Illinois.

With the successful regatta win in New York now a distant memory, so are the unique conditions the team had to contend with in the Big Apple.

Chicago on the other hand is a different kettle of fish. Located on the shoreline of Lake Michigan and known in the US as ‘The Windy City’, this weekends racing will be the first time an America’s Cup event has been sailed in fresh water. 

“It’s an interesting element and a bit of a novelty to be sailing in fresh water.” said skipper Glenn Ashby. “If anything it will make the job easier for the shore guys washing the boat down at the end of the day.”

On a more serious note, Ashby grew up and learnt to sail on a fresh water lake so sailing on the Great Lake won’t be too much of new experience for him.

“Technically, sailing in fresh water as opposed to salt water won’t change the way we sail the boat too much. The bigger consideration with this regatta will again be how shifty and puffy it could be if the wind is blowing through the skyline again like we saw in New York but also just how restricted and tight the race course is in Chicago.”

Ashby is referring to the race track, a tight course confined between the famous Navy Pier and the outer harbour breakwater.

“We are literally confined between a rock wall and the city water front”, helmsman Peter Burling explained. “So all of the action is going to be really really tight which means it will be even more difficult than usual to pass boats, which therefore means getting good, clean starts and rounding the first mark in front is going to be paramount to having a successful regatta.”

More than anyone, Burling knows the importance of the starts, it is his job as helmsman to get the boat in position for the best possible start to each race.

“As with all events, it is going to be full on racing no matter what the conditions. If it blows, like it so often can in Chicago then it has the potential to be one of the most intense regattas on the World Series yet.”

Prior to stepping on a plane for the long 40 hour flight from New Zealand to Chicago, skipper Ashby had this to say: “We can’t wait to get there and get into it, the racing is going to be fierce. As always we go to these events fairly open minded as to what we are going to get, but every opportunity we have to sail together on the AC45’s is just another chapter in our march towards the America’s Cup in 2017 and a chance to get better and stronger as a team.” 

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