MEDIA RELEASE – 14 January 2020
The “voice of the America’s Cup” PJ Montgomery predicts big changes to all challenger boats for the PRADA 36th America’s Cup challenger series
The speed and performance of the 36th America’s Cup challenger boats will have all stepped up significantly according to pre-eminent yachting commentator Peter ‘PJ’ Montgomery.
Speaking ahead of the PRADA Challenger Series round-robin tomorrow, Montgomery says all of the campaigns have been busy making big changes to their boats since the PRADA America’s Cup World Series wrapped up before Christmas (NOTE: see below for full transcript).
“These are significant changes too. They’ve made changes to a variety of things from their foils to the sails to all sorts of other things in the way these boats are set up. And they’ve had to – because they are now playing for keeps,” said Montgomery.
The soon to be America’s Cup “hall of famer” said all three challengers, American Magic, Luna Rossa and Ineos Team UK are desperate to be on top of the table at the end of the PRADA round robin because of the huge advantage it’ll deliver them.
“The crew that ends up on top of the round robin goes straight through to challenger final. That boat will have a huge advantage because that means that one: they will know who their competition is and two: they will have more time to make other changes and improvements before they go into the challenger final,” said Montgomery.
“PJ” Montgomery, has become synonymous with the world’s oldest international sports event since delivering his live commentary of an America's Cup race involving a New Zealand boat in 1986. “PJ” is once again behind the microphone anchoring live radio commentary for the 36th America’s Cup across Gold AM, Newstalk ZB and iHeartRadio.
Montgomery says so far, the 2021 event hasn’t thrown up too many surprises, but he has singled out America Magic for some high praise.
Montgomery: “American Magic was first here, and their work ethic has been second to none. They have worked really hard and certainly the afterguard led by Dean Barker has worked incredibly hard on their starts and it shows really in all of the starts they have had so far.”
As for the defender, Montgomery said sources have told him Team New Zealand has “a lot of good stuff to come yet”, but he warned of the quickly improving challengers and the Kiwis need to improve their starts.
“We know that certainly Team New Zealand have to improve their starting and quickly. Because in these short races, unlike the longer form racing here in Auckland last go and in Valencia in ’07 a good start is crucial.
“Just having a great boat is one thing. Putting it in the right spot is another thing altogether,” said Montgomery. ENDS.
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TRANSCRIPT: “PJ” Montgomery shares his thoughts ahead of the PRADA America’s Cup challenger series.
Q: How would you describe the racing that we have seen so far?
PJ: America Magic was first here and their work ethic has been second to none and they have worked really hard and certainly the afterguard in Dean Barker have worked incredibly hard on their starts and it shows really in all of the starts we have had so far and Luna Rosa certainly proved to be very competitive .
Q: What are your thoughts on what we can expect from here on – will be boats be faster, will the racing be closer?
PJ: The campaigns have all made changes and you would have to assume they’ve resulted in improvements to boat performance and speed. And these are significant changes too. They’ve made changes to a variety of things from their foils to the sails to all sorts of other things in the way these boats are set up. And they’ve had too – because they are playing for keeps now.
At the end of the round robin, before the challenger semi- finals, the crew that ends up on top of the round robin and goes straight through to challenger final. That boat will have a huge advantage because that means that one: they will know who their competition is and two: they will have more time to make other changes and improvements before they go into the challenger final.
Meanwhile, the two left in the challenger semi- final which is number two and three from the round robin, one of those will be going home pretty quickly - after all of the years of preparation, the countless thousands of hours or work and money that’s gone into their campaign “pop” goes the balloon just like that.
Q: Your thoughts on Team New Zealand - are they in the sweet the spot?
A: Well a while ago I thought that they were doing well and wasn’t sure whether or not the challengers good get closer. Now we know that certainly Team New Zealand have to improve their starting and quickly. Because in these short races, unlike the longer form racing here in Auckland last go and in Valencia in ’07 a good start is crucial.
I mean team New Zealand look good and I hear through my people in the field that they have a lot of good stuff to come yet. But, just having a great boat is one thing. Putting it in the right spot is another thing altogether.
But they look quite good and that’s encouraging so far. The great unknown is what the challengers are coming up with – as I mentioned earlier, all the challengers will continually be making changes and potential improvements.
So, the answer is - it all depends where the challengers will be and what are they bringing against Team New Zealand.
Q. What are your thoughts on the conditions on the harbor and the boats? Are they all lining up for some fantastic racing?
A. Early indications are that for the end of the week – there’ll be enough wind for foiling – although at the lighter end of the scale. But it is very early in the piece just yet. We know that at this time of the year the winds are lighter during the middle of the day.
This is why they are holding the races from 4 pm. Back in the 2003 we lost so many race days because of a lack of wind. It was so very frustrating for the crews because as they were getting towed back in, a beautiful breeze was coming down the harbor from the Waitakere’s and at 4 o’clock most days there could be a nice summer breeze coming in over the Hauraki gulf.
As I say - foiling should not be problem for these boats and crews this weekend.