With GBR Challenge based halfway round the world in Auckland, it’s easy to forget that Britain is warming up for its first attempt at the America’s Cup in 16 years. James Stagg sends us an excerpt from his diary to keep us up to speed

James ‘Shag’ Stagg, GBR Challenge
“Monday was a big day in that it was the first day we had two boats out on the Gulf. This, combined with lighter warmer conditions, made for some good but long sailing days. It seems like weeks since we have sailed in these conditions – most of the crew could not remember the last time we had hoisted an asymmetric spinnaker (which as a rule we fly in sub-15 knots).

It goes without saying that the work rate is just as hard, if not harder, handling the A sails and all the manoeuvres that come with them. This month has opened our eyes fully to the varying conditions on the Gulf in October and how when the forecast says ‘wet and windy’ it means it.

The arrival of the second boat (GBR 52) means we can continue and expand the two-boat exercises we started back in the Solent in May. It didn’t take long before we went into our first practice match race in NZ. Practice it might be, but the inter crew competition is high and you really do not want to lose, if nothing else but for the grief and comments sent your way back at the dock. The team is also now fully aware as to how hard and long our Auckland days are going to be from now on in.

This week I have been dedicating most of my time ashore to the new boat deck layout. Chris Mason and I work with Jaime Marina on this side of things. We will probably go home a few weeks before everyone else does for the launch in April so we can oversee and help in the final design.

Everything at present is obviously just in the drawing stages, but I have to ensure that the Sailing Team have some say and input into the way we are building the specific aspects of the deck format that affect them. It is always good to have different points of view and the more feedback means more progress in developing the right set up for us.

Thursday and Friday of this week see our official base opening. We have received a good reception from the NZ media and public so we want to keep it that way. Although these are seen as important days for the team, it does not mean the work stops; one boat will be out tomorrow and, oh yeah, circuit training starts at 0610.

James, James Stagg, Bowman, GBR Challenge