America’s Cup 2021: Advantage Luna Rossa? Team New Zealand skipper Glenn Ashby’s hint about rival’s ‘patented’ strategy

Team New Zealand skipper Glenn Ashby has hinted that they are “mixing it up” on the water, but the defenders are still keeping their cards close to their chest about potentially using their rival’s “patented” strategy.

Rumours that Team NZ will copy Luna Rossa’s twin-helmsman system in the America’s Cup match gathered pace this week when the challenger’s skipper Max Sirena suggested the defenders were employing their method, with Peter Burling and Ashby operating the wheel from either side of the boat.

In an interview with Sky Sport in Italy, Sirena joked that his team had “patented” the system and “we have already sued the British and the New Zealanders”.

“We watched them as they trained to make starts. At least in the starting phase Peter Burling no longer goes from one side to the other,” Sirena said.

“It is evident that having a double helmsman, especially in the starting phase, has great advantages because there is not that period of time in which the boat can be less under control when the helmsman goes from one side to the other.

“They are training – I hope they do it also in racing because it would give us an advantage. It is not something that comes immediately.”

While Team NZ have refused to confirm using the strategy, Ashby seemed to suggest that he and Burling have been trialing different things on the water.

“I just sit down on the leeward side and have a look out the window and just keep my eye out for a marker or two that we have to go around,” Ashby told Stuff.

“Pete does a great job and all the guys on the boat have all got their roles. We have to do different roles at different times. We’ve certainly been mixing it up and basically trying to get the boat around the track as best we can.

“You obviously can’t be on both sides at once, so you have to do your best where you can and be a team player for sure.”

The twin-helmsman system, which has been used by Luna Rossa since their launch, gives teams the ability to complete tacks and gybes without the crews changing sides.

It is especially useful during the hectic pre-starts where Luna Rossa co-helmsmen Jimmy Spithill and Frencesco Bruni have thrived in their campaign thus far.

The first race of the America’s Cup match is expected to start on Wednesday after this weekend’s races were postponed due to Auckland being in alert Level 3.

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