It’s all smiles for the America’s Cup teams as the brand new AC75 boats hit the water. But the serious business starts soon…

Everyone in the America’s Cup world is in a good mood – which isn’t always the case. Given the years of development and more than 80,000 hours it has taken to build each of these new flying beasts it’s easy to see why there are so many smiles as Cup teams wheel their final pieces out into the open for the world to see. Each new America’s Cup boat looks wicked in its own way and there’s plenty to celebrate.

This is also one of my favourite parts of any Cup cycle. As well as the fun of trying to understand and unpick the teams’ thought processes, each launch is full of hope, expectation and excitement.

And aside from being proud of their boats, no one has yet lost. At this stage they’ve not even had to defend a technical breakdown.

By late May, five of the six boats had been seen in public leaving the French Orient Express Racing Team the last to show their hand – not surprising as they’re the ‘smallest’ of the teams and have been quite open about being last to the party.

While they have the biggest mountain to climb between now and the start of the Challengers’ series in August this year, they have two things going for them. First, is a young and dynamic sailing team that have frequently demonstrated their abilities in both SailGP and the two AC40 preliminary events. Second is they’ve gained a technical leg up by buying a design package from the Kiwis. So they’ve got a couple of the crucial areas covered already.

Another team interesting to watch and talk to in the build-up so far is Alinghi Red Bull Racing. Having spent time at their boat christening in Barcelona where they revealed their radically styled AC75, the atmosphere within the base took me back to Auckland 2002.

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Back then, aside from stealing the show and winning the Cup, Alinghi HQ felt different to everyone else. Not only did they invite the public to come and see how they operated, but they built a dedicated viewing area that took you into their compound.

But the thing I remember the most was the calm confidence of the team members. Despite having poached several of the key players from the previous Kiwi Cup winning team, they knew winning on a first attempt in a multi-challenger event was going to be tough. We all know what happened next.

Twenty years later I’ve been getting a similar feeling, especially when they describe how they got to this point after sitting out the last three Cups. Like the French, they knew they had a mountain to climb and admit to it being tougher than they’d thought.

Design co-ordinator Adolfo Carrau was candid about how intimidating their first few outings in the former Kiwi AC75 were. He also told me how much of a wake-up call it was across the entire team (my words not his).

But now with a season of sailing at the notoriously lumpy Barcelona venue in a boat that was the same size as their eventual machine, they seem to have wrestled themselves onto the front of the wave. Next up is to see whether their boat is a fast and reliable one.

On that front, the Defenders Emirates Team New Zealand delivered an unequivocal demonstration of where they are and how they feel about their yacht. They might have been second team to reveal their boat (after Alinghi Red Bull Racing), but they were first to go sailing.

Unlike any of the other teams, they went sailing just hours after putting Taihoro in the water for the very first time. Not only is that impressive, but it’s a statement to the Challengers. And they weren’t finished at that. Sailing in 30 knots in a boat that was just seven days old and clocking up 14 days under sail in less than three weeks was also a clear indication as to where they are at.

But they also had to do this. Delivering Taihoro to Barcelona by sea will take 30 days, during which time most of the challengers would be testing and training off the Spanish coast.

The British INEOS Britannia were among them. And while they only went for their first sail in their new machine on the day the Kiwis did their last day afloat, they looked relieved, confident and happy.

Ben Ainslie’s team has put most of their eggs in the technical basket and have suffered mishaps and problems along the way which has attracted plenty of concern among supporters. But when Ben came off the water after the first day’s sailing he did something he hasn’t done in front of the camera for a while… smile.

As I say, everyone’s in a good mood.

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