The Kiwi sailors of New Zealand have encountered a formidable opponent in the form of Swedish Vikings who have dominated practice races preparatory to next month’s America’s Cup.
To make matters worse, it is not Eric the Red or Leif Erickson piloting the Swedish boat, but an Aussie by the name of Nathan Outteridge.
The Swedish contender is christened Artemis and it has beaten all comers, winning nine times over four days on the Great Sound.
The performance establishes Artemis as Emirates Team New Zealand’s primary rival in the challenger series. Oracle Team USA, with financial backing that would make the GDP of many countries blush with embarrassment, won five times from nine, making them the second best in the practice races.
Sailing experts caution that the practice races are not always indicative as a definitive form guide, however, as most teams are engaged in constant tweaking of their America’s Cup Class catamarans. That includes the Viking boat, where team manager Iain Percy stated that there is room for improvement in the six weeks leading up to the beginning of the competition proper.
Team New Zealand arrived at the Bermuda site of the next round of trials running from April 24 – 28, but as yet, has not committed to racing.