America's Cup update


Nigel Cherrie looks at the form in next week's International Regatta
Three America's Cup challengers will take the plunge and square up against Team New Zealand next week in the International Regatta, the only official AC class competition before the start of the Louis Vuitton series this October. Starting on Monday morning, the defenders will join Sweden's Victory Challenge, OneWorld of the USA and GBR Challenge for a week of exhibition fleet sailing and match racing on the Hauraki Gulf. The organizers, Team New Zealand themselves, have copied the format of the highly successful America’s Cup Jubilee at Cowes last August and will round the week off with a spectacular long inshore fleet race, a day after the match race final. But the whole event is still a double-edged sword. It is well known around the waterfront that several challenging syndicates have lined up against other teams. It's pretty hard to hide what you are doing on the Hauraki Gulf in view of the rest of the world yet most will not discuss their training programmes with the media but the general goal for the overseas teams is to keep the Kiwi’s out in the cold and guessing while boosting the standard of the challengers. That said, next week obviously provides Team New Zealand with some extra curricula competition and a rough guide to the form of three teams at least. There are mixed opinions along syndicate row but GBR Challenge's General Manager David Barnes believes the benefits to the British camp are too big to sideline the opportunity. "If there is racing we'll be there and if we get hammered, it's best you know," said Barnes yesterday. The all-conquering NZL 60, which kept the Cup in New Zealand, is still regarded as the baseline so everyone will be gauging performances relative to the black boat. To stand any chance of prizing the Cup away

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