Kiwis Win First "Road to Cup" RegattaWELLINGTON, New Zealand (Mar. 10, 1997) Team New Zealand defeated New York Yacht Club, 4-0, in the first of a series of competitions leading up to the America's Cup match in 2000.
Originally scheduled as a seven-race series, the inaugural Road to the America's Cup regatta ended after just four races due to gale-force winds. The races were sailed in a matched pair of International America's Cup Class (IACC) boats, NZL-10 and NZL-12, which were built for the 1992 event.
However, winds gusting to 40-plus knots forced the organizers to call it quits after four races. Earlier, the high winds prevented the Kiwi and NYYC crews from getting in any sailing practice prior to the start of racing on Saturday.
The races were held on short, four-mile, America's Cup-style courses off Queen's Wharf. Russell Coutts led the New Zealand team and Ed Baird was at the helm for the Americans. Both agreed the event offered good preparation for the event to come.
A return series is set for March 28-30 in Auckland, followed by a mini-America's Cup scheduled for April 2-6. In the mini-Cup, NYYC will be joined by challengers San Francisco YC (U.S.), Royal Dorset YC (Great Britain) and Societe Nautique Port Camargue (France). A challenger elimination series is to be held April 2-4, with the winner meeting Team New Zealand in the match final, April 5-6. St. Francis YC/AmericaOne was not invited to participate in this event.
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