Wind limits buffet Auckland 2021 America's Cup planning

Wellington (AFP) –


A row has blown up over wind limits for the America's Cup with defenders Team New Zealand and the challengers unable to agree on the upper limits for racing in the 2021 series in Auckland.

The wind range for the 75-foot monohulls was meant to be signed off last Friday, but with no agreement reached the issue will now go to an arbitration panel, website reported Sunday.

It could take at least three months deliberation and if the syndicates cannot find common ground then the arbitration panel will make a final ruling.

The challengers want a 20 knot upper limit which is "unrealistic for Auckland," Team New Zealand legal advisor Russell Green told Stuff.

New Zealand want the upper limit set at 24 knots, the same as for the 50-foot catamarans that sailed in the last America's cup series in Bermuda in June 2017.

"We just think under 20 knots is ridiculous," Green said.

"We don't know what their game is ... Whether they are trying to develop specialist equipment for the lower wind limit, we don't know."

The challengers -- INEOS Team UK (Britain), American Magic (USA), Luna Rossa (Italy) and Stars and Stripes Team USA (USA) plan to use the 20 knots limit for their series to determine which yacht will compete against Team New Zealand for the Cup.

Team New Zealand argue the 2021 America's Cup should be sailed in conditions relevant to Auckland.

"We don't want a whole lot of races being cancelled in conditions that are normal in Auckland, solid 20 knots, that's what people expect to sail in here," Green said.

"This is a big deal but it's a bit like the tail wagging the horse at the moment -- you're being told 'we are only going to sail in under 20 knots in your town'."

Team New Zealand have been comfortably sailing in winds in excess of 20 knots while testing their yacht in Auckland's Waitemata Harbour in recent months although last week they did capsize in winds around 10 knots.