Team New Zealand will join the huge job of getting American Magic’s damaged boat back into action.
Patriot has a massive hole in the hull to be fixed and will need a total electrical rebuild to be ready for the Prada Cup semifinal repechage that starts on January 29. The damage came after a high-speed capsize in Auckland on Sunday.
Skipper and chief executive Terry Hutchinson confirmed American Magic would not contest the rest of the round-robin series to be sailed this week but said he believed the boat could be ready for the following weekend which will be the start of a best-of-seven series against the second-placed boat.
Getting Patriot fixed will be a collective effort, with Hutchinson praising the way the Auckland maritime industry and their cup rivals, including defender Emirates Team New Zealand, had instantly offered their services.
“From a boat building perspective, the defenders are in the strongest spot because we are in their home town,” Hutchinson explained of Grant Dalton’s champion syndicate.
“They are winding down a certain portion of their programme so there are a lot of people available to help us out and straight away they [Team New Zealand] put us in contact.
“I think Dalts’ quote was: whatever you need we have it for you.”
In the public eye, the America’s Cup is known for its wrangles more than its camaraderie but the events of the past 24 hours, when teams instantly sent their chase boats to help save Patriot from sinking, have reinforced to Hutchinson the special qualities of the cup community.
He described it as “an element of sportsmanship that is the highest level”.
“We have had great support from all the teams … everybody has offered up their services to get Patriot back on the water.
“As competitors, the majority of the time we argue with each other about things that are just about racing sail boats, we argue to get our points across.
“But today you could not come across more sportsmanship or more generous teams than we have around us.
“With all the sincerity in the world, they extended pretty much all the facilities for us to use to rebuild Patriot.”
Dalton played down Team New Zealand’s involvement, telling Stuff: “The entire marine industry is rallying around American Magic. We are just playing our small part if needed.”
Any help will be welcomed because Hutchinson left no doubts about the size of the task involved.
“It will be a big effort to get the boat to go sailing in the semis, we have a realistic timeline … the team is committed to it,” he said.
“The beauty of our team is a high level of resolve. What we are going to see over the next seven to eight days is the boat getting rebuilt. She might not come out of the boat shed as pretty but she is going to come out of the shed and we are going to go back racing.”
Hutchinson confirmed the hole had been caused by internal pressures after the boat slammed down from its leap out of the water as they tried a difficult tack-bear away at the final mark while leading Luna Rossa.
“It is fine when it lands flat on its heel but when you land on the side, the structure inside just guillotined the panel and out it came.”
Alarm bells rang when one of American Magic’s chase boats found a large section of the hull floating nearby, confirming Hutchinson’s worst fears as he had plenty of water splashing around him aboard the crippled AC75.
Hutchinson emphasised fixing the hull would be the easy part. An ultrasound of the hull began at 3am on Monday and took seven hours, giving them some reassurances.
“If you have concerns or worries, it is dealing with what is inside the boat … the hardest part is the electronics. That is going to be a big job.”
They had the components to get that done.
All three rival teams showed a great standard of sportsmanship in coming to stricken boat’s aid.
American Magic’s withdrawal from the last phase of round-robin racing this week will likely see the schedule adjusted.
It leaves INEOS Team UK and Luna Rossa battling for direct entry into the Prada Cup final and the British have one foot in the door. They are unbeaten with four wins and one more victory would put them through. They have two races scheduled against the Italians.