Emirates Team New Zealand: DEFENDER
The 36th America’s Cup defender soared to its position atop the sailing world with innovation, resilience and a supremely talented squad of sailors, which continues to its current defense.
Representing: Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron
Principle: Matteo de Nora
Base: Auckland, NZ
Helmsman: Peter Burling
Yacht name: Te Rehutai
Emirates Team New Zealand earned its second America’s Cup defense the hard way when it won the 35th edition in Bermuda in 2017. With a reputation for extreme team unity, resilience and innovation, they rallied after a catastrophic capsize early in the series by rebuilding their boat mid-competition and then went on to easily upset the deep-pocketed Defender, Oracle Team USA. The win was sweet redemption for their shocking loss to Oracle, which came back from an 8-to-1 deficit in the 34th Cup in San Francisco.
Winning the Cup is one thing. Defending it is another. The New Zealanders, however, have the home-water advantage, a sailing and design team loaded with talent and experience, and a jump-start on the development of the AC75 class design. Their fearless and young Olympic champion skipper, Peter Burling is a high-performance sailing savant and in the afterguard, he’s flanked by Olympic teammate and fellow Cup winners Blair Tuke (flight controller) and Glen Ashby (sail trimmer), as well as a number of returning grinders and specialists.
Team New Zealand innovated the use of a sailing simulator before Bermuda and has carried this technology forward, allowing them to be the first to fly their AC75 with apparent ease and set the benchmark for their three challengers to strive for.