No clear favorite as America’s Cup trials near


The America’s Cup trials start two weeks from Friday on Bermuda’s Great Sound, and the man in charge of sailing’s marquee regatta doesn’t believe there’s an overwhelming favorite, not even two-time defending champion Oracle Team USA.

Russell Coutts has been watching practice races between the 50-foot, foiling catamarans. He said he’s impressed with Oracle Team USA, Artemis Racing of Sweden, SoftBank Team Japan and Emirates Team New Zealand, the hard-luck loser in the 2013 America’s Cup on San Francisco Bay.

NBC Sports will present over 40 hours of coverage from Bermuda across NBC, NBCSN and the NBC Sports app, beginning Friday, with coverage of the Cup Qualifiers on NBCSN. NBCSN and the NBC Sports app will provide comprehensive coverage of the qualifiers and Challenger Playoffs through June 12. The first races of the final stage of competition in the 35th America’s Cup, the America’s Cup Match, will take place on June 17, at 1 p.m. ET on NBC.

“I actually don’t think there is a clear favorite right now,” Coutts, CEO of the America’s Cup Event Authority, said in a recent phone interview. “I think it’s really close between these teams.”

Coutts won the America’s Cup three times as a skipper – for two different countries – and twice as CEO of Oracle Team USA, which is owned by Larry Ellison, one of the world’s richest men. Coutts remains CEO of Oracle Team USA, although he said his role is limited to overseeing the team’s budget while general manager Grant Simmer and skipper Jimmy Spithill run the day-to-day operations.

Oracle has capsized twice in the last month, most recently on Wednesday . No one’s been injured and the team said damage was minimal.

The other two teams in the trials are Britain’s Land Rover BAR, led by Sir Ben Ainslie, the most decorated Olympic sailor in history, and Groupama Team France.

Coutts said that while Land Rover BAR is among the best at maneuvering the fast, wing-sailed catamarans, it has a speed problem.

“The French got in late, so it might be hard for them to get up to the level the other top teams are,” Coutts said. “But I would not rule BAR out. They’ve certainly been sailing their boat at the same level as the other four top teams. If they can get their speed together, they will be a force to be reckoned with, no doubt about that.”

Coutts pointed to a recent day of practice racing, when Oracle beat Japan, New Zealand beat Artemis, Oracle beat Land Rover BAR, Land Rover BAR beat France, Japan beat New Zealand, New Zealand beat France and Japan beat Oracle.

Coutts said the conditions were within a knot of wind for all the races.

“They can all beat each other and it depends on how well they sail,” Coutts said. “I couldn’t say that one team’s standing out as being stronger than the others. The outcome is going to be very unpredictable, which of course, in essence, is what we need.”


Date  Start Time (EST)  Event  Channel
5/26 1:00 PM America’s Cup Qualifiers: Round Robin 1 NBC Sports app
5/27 1:00 PM America’s Cup Fleet Racing NBCSN
5/28 1:00 PM America’s Cup Fleet Racing NBCSN
5/29 1:00 PM America’s Cup Fleet Racing NBCSN
5/30 1:00 PM America’s Cup Fleet Racing NBCSN
5/31 1:00 PM America’s Cup Fleet Racing NBCSN
6/2 1:00 PM America’s Cup Round Robin NBCSN
6/3 1:00 PM America’s Cup Round Robin NBCSN
6/4 1:00 PM America’s Cup Playoffs Semifinals NBC Sports app
6/6 1:00 PM America’s Cup Playoffs Semifinals NBC Sports app
6/7 1:00 PM America’s Cup Playoffs Semifinals NBC Sports app
6/8 1:00 PM America’s Cup Playoffs Semifinals (if needed) NBC Sports app
6/10 1:00 PM America’s Cup ACCP Final NBCSN
6/11 1:00 PM America’s Cup ACCP Final NBCSN
6/12 1:00 PM America’s Cup ACCP Final NBCSN
6/17 1:00 PM America’s Cup Match NBC
6/18 1:00 PM America’s Cup Match NBC
6/21 10:00 PM America’s Cup: Courageous NBCSN
6/24 1:00 PM America’s Cup Match NBC
6/25 1:00 PM America’s Cup Match NBC

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Racing in 36th America’s Cup cleared to begin next week

Getty Images

AUCKLAND, New Zealand — Racing in the 36th match for sailing’s America Cup between defender Team New Zealand and Italian challenger Luna Rossa will begin next Wednesday after the relaxation of COVID-19 lockdown regulations in host city Auckland.

The Cup Match was due to begin Saturday but was pushed back to Wednesday when Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, moved to alert level 3 after a small community outbreak.

The outbreak is now thought contained and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced Auckland will move to alert level 2 from Sunday. That will allow racing to take place in the best-of-13 race Match, albeit without crowds at the Cup village or fan zones ashore.

Two races will be sailed on Wednesday with an off-day Thursday. Racing will continue on the next four days — March 12 to 15 — and continue each day afterwards until one team has won seven races.

Auckland COVID outbreak forces America’s Cup postponement

America's Cup
Getty Images
1 Comment

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — The first weekend of sailing in the America’s Cup has been postponed after new COVID-19 cases were reported in Auckland. It is now not likely to begin until March 10.

Auckland was placed in limited lockdown for seven days from 6 a.m. Sunday with travel restrictions into and out of New Zealand’s largest city, strict limits on public gatherings, and a ban on sports events.

The 36th match for the America’s Cup between Team New Zealand and Italy’s Luna Rossa was due to begin next Saturday. America’s Cup Events chairwoman Tina Symmans said Sunday the decision had been made early to give participants “some certainty in planning.

The alert level changes were announced late Saturday after two new coronavirus cases were located in the community which could not directly be linked to earlier cases. Auckland recently returned to level 1 after a small community cluster of infections.

“ACE has always said that it wishes to hold as much of the racing under level 1 restrictions as possible,” Symmans said. “But to be prudent, ACE will apply for an exemption to race under Level 3 restrictions so as to keep as many options open as possible.

“However, racing will not occur before at least Wednesday, March 10. We need to understand all likely scenarios so that an updated racing schedule can be put in place whilst also ensuring the regulatory requirements are met.”

Races in the America’s Cup challenger series took place this month without crowds when Auckland was at level 2. A government exemption would be needed and strict protocols would have to be in place for racing to take place at level 3.