Just 10 days after nearly sinking, American Magic’s AC75, Patriot, the U.S. challenger for the 36th America's Cup, returned to New Zealand’s waters in time to continue its quest to regain the America's Cup.
Just getting the heavily damaged boat back to the water in time for the Prada Cup semifinals was a massive accomplishment considering the boat’s hull had been holed and all its electronics were ruined in the near sinking.
As she appeared from her shed in Auckland, New Zealand, Patriot sported a graphic where previously the hole that nearly sent the American AC75 to the bottom of the Hauraki Gulf had been. Stickers depicted two Band-aids with the words "thank you" and the flags of New Zealand, Italy and Britain, in a tribute to the three competitor nations and the first responders who prevented the sinking.
The American Magic syndicate made no secret of the fact that they would not have been able to return to the water in time had it not been for the speedy response by its competitors and the generous assistance they received in repairing the boat. The New Zealand defenders were particularly helpful by providing every possible resource to get their American opponents back on the water. Team New Zealand made its construction team available, which built the carbon-fiber hull section to repair the hole in the hull so the Americans could concentrate on the other aspects of Patriot’s repair.
“The band-aid graphic with the three flags that covers the repair is an acknowledgement from all of us of the invaluable assistance received from each of the other three syndicates,” an American Magic representative told The New Zealand Herald.
Soon after yesterday’s relaunch, Patriot returned to one of the racecourses for testing. Due to light winds, she first sailed in displacement mode, but when the late afternoon winds kicked up, she foiled back and forth across the water. When American Magic skipper Terry Hutchinson was asked after seven hours of sailing whether the boat felt as it did before the crash, his answer was short and to the point. "Forty-five knots. So yes, it did," he said.
Getting back on the water in time for racing impressed the American’s competitors, including British skipper Ben Ainslee who wrote about it in his weekly column for Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper. “I asked one of our senior engineers whether we would have been able to make it back for the semi-finals had the same thing happened to us,” Ainslee wrote, “and he said, ‘No chance.’”
The Americans will face the Italian challenger Luna Rossa on Friday for the first day of semifinal racing. The winner of the semifinals will face off against Ainslee and the British boat, which finished first in the Prada Cup round-robin series with a 5-0 record giving them a bye for the semifinals.