Ashburton kitemaker and sailing enthusiast Peter Lynn says time is against American Magic as they pull out all stops to get their America’s Cup campaign back on the water.
And Peter is defending American Magic skipper Dean Barker, saying a sudden gust of wind turned the final leg of Sunday’s race against Luna Rossa into the equivalent of a Formula One crash.
The innovative kitemaker is passionately following the challenger and cup series in Auckland, knowing first-hand that boat design and technology has resulted in yachts racing at the very edge of control.
His son Robert was a development engineer for Team New Zealand in 2003; that same campaign Peter’s kite company was asked to build a kite spinnaker for the mono-hulled yachts racing in the Hauraki Gulf for the 31st campaign.
The 35th campaign in Bermuda saw twin-hulled catamarans and in this 36th campaign the yachts are foiling on single hulls.
It’s exciting and edgy stuff, Peter says.
He spent 25 years experimenting with foils on kiteboats and kite boards at Lake Clearwater, building around 140 prototype vessels.
He has ended up in the water in exactly the same fashion as American Magic many times.
The America’s Cup crew was sailing into the wind on Sunday and rounded the top mark to be then sailing with the wind. A sudden gust saw the boat rear out of the water, crash land and then capsize.
Peter said a big hole on the underside of the boat suggested a heavy battery or the foil operating equipment had dislodged and fallen through the bottom.
The sailing community and AM fans all around the world have been discussing events leading to the capsize, some critical of the skipper’s decisions.
But Peter said the direction of the breeze gave them little choice, if they were to protect their preferred side of the course.
He says it is unlikely the Americans will be able to repair their boat Patriot for racing on Friday, but they would probably be ready for semi-final racing on January 29.
But while repairing the boat, the crew would be unable to practise and develop on the water.
“It is devastating for the Americans.”
The lack of time on water, and repairs that could add weight to the boat, put Patriot at a disadvantage.
Peter said the team had resources that gave it the best chance possible of making a comeback. Team New Zealand, afterall, won the cup after spectacularly capsizing in the challenger series in Bermuda.
“The boats are incredible. It has put yachting on a different plane. It used to be like watching paint dry or grass grow. It is now like watching Formula One, particularly with crashes like Sunday’s.”