Prada v TNZ
We will be in for some formidable racing this week on Auckland's Waitemata Harbour. Barker said today, "you certainly don't look down the list and see any easy races."
Andy Green of Britain's GBR Challenged confirmed Dean's opinion, "I don't think there's ever been a stronger field, it's the best Steinlager/Line 7 I've ever been to that's for sure, I think it will be all on, there won't be any easy races."
Ken Read, skipper of Team Dennis Conner's Stars & Stripes is equally impressed with the line up, "who else are you going to get to be tougher than this group? It's pretty impressive, and that's what makes it fun, and we all come to compete, that's what this whole group of people do, that's what we do for a living, we compete, so do what you do, and hopefully you do it well."
And so the comments go on, from every skipper, this is one tough event, and whoever wins will know they've done a race or two, and will very proudly hold the Steinlager/Line 7 Cup on Sunday evening.
The weather forecast for the opening day tomorrow is ideal, says race director, Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron's Harold Bennett. "We are expecting a southerly breeze, 12 to 15 knots, which isn't too severe, and will give them time to get used to the boats."
In a line up of twelve skippers, ten are representing America's Cup teams, with the pressure on to keep their sponsors and fans happy, while for most there is the added spice of points in the Swedish Match Grand Prix Sailing Tour, in which Peter Holmberg and Magnus Holmberg (of Victory Challenge and of Victory Challenge) are battling for top honours.
All the Cup skippers are happy to be getting away from the drudge of daily testing in their Cup boats, and down to some mean and nasty, tight match racing.
Ken Read summed the situation up well, "you can test, and test, and test until your eyes start to bleed, and so every once in a while you've got to throw in a regatta like this to keep everybody fresh, and keep the team fresh, and keep me fresh."