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American Magic back in America's Cup; Penske steps aside

American Magic back in America's Cup; Penske steps aside

The American Magic sailing team rejoined forces with the New York Yacht Club on Friday to announce a challenge for the America’s Cup, although it will be without auto racing titan Roger Penske as one of its principals.

Penske, who owns the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as well as Team Penske, had been one of three principals for American Magic during the 2021 America’s Cup. The U.S. team suffered a catastrophic capsize and was eliminated from the challenger trials without winning a race.

While principals Doug DeVos — co-chairman of Amway — and Hap Fauth will continue to back American Magic, Penske said in an email to The Associated Press that he would not be part of the syndicate, adding, “I had enough,” followed by a smiley face emoji.

Friday’s announcement is the latest turn for the New York Yacht Club, which once enjoyed a 132-year winning streak in the competition for the oldest trophy in international sports. American Magic’s deal with the NYYC ended after the 36th America’s Cup in March and the venerable club signed the all-American Stars+Stripes sailing team in late July. In mid-October, the club announced it was pausing its challenge due to uncertainty surrounding the 37th America’s Cup, which will be held sometime in 2024 at a venue to be determined.

While Stars+Stripes had to stop construction of an AC75 foiling monohull and never made it to the starting line in the last regatta, American Magic owns two race boats, a half-size test boat and enough equipment to fill 32 shipping containers.

“It’s great to represent the New York Yacht Club in the America’s Cup,” Terry Hutchinson, American Magic’s president of sailing operations, said in a phone interview. “It’s a unique and special opportunity for sailors. ... We built the infrastructure in a startup and the New York Yacht Club’s presence in the America’s Cup is unmatched, so they bring a lot to the table as well. It’s a great blend for American Magic and for New York.”

Hutchinson said American Magic benefited from having Penske, an NYYC member, as one of its principals in the last regatta.

“Roger was and is a great teammate and standing here today we know his commitment to American Magic is always felt, whether he is an active member of the team this time or watching from pit lane, because that’s who he is,” Hutchinson said. “So in that regard we’ll always have Roger’s presence in the team whether he’s standing there or not. He’s focused on car racing right now. Every minute I got to spend with Roger was awesome.”

The reunion between American Magic and the New York Yacht Club came after the club changed commodores.

“The America’s Cup remains the highest peak in sailing and one of the most difficult challenges in the world of sport,” new commodore Dr. Paul M. Zabetakis said in a statement. “The lessons learned during our previous campaign, combined with American Magic’s physical and intellectual assets and a commitment to multiple cycles, will ensure we come into this challenge with a strong chance to claim sailing’s ultimate prize.”

The New York Yacht Club held the Auld Mug from 1851 until 1983. It hasn’t been much of a factor since then.

American Magic is “hungry and highly motivated to be the most innovative team on and off the water,” Fauth said. “We are proud of how our team rebounded during AC36, but we have unfinished business and are committed to investing in technology, design, innovation and talent so we are best positioned to bring the America’s Cup home.”

American Magic's Patriot was leading a race in the challenger trials in Auckland, New Zealand, in early 2021 when it capsized at high speed, was heavily damaged and nearly sank. The foiling monohull was repaired and returned to racing 12 days later, but was swept out of the semifinals by an Italian team.

Hutchinson said it's too early to say who will helm the boat in the next Cup. If New Zealander Dean Barker doesn't return, Paul Goodison of Britain, the mainsail trimmer in 2021, could take the helm.

Emirates Team New Zealand successfully defended the America’s Cup in March. It seems unlikely that the next America’s Cup will be held in Auckland due to financial reasons. The Kiwis are entertaining bids from Cork, Ireland; Valencia, Spain; and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and will announce their choice by the end of March.

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Follow Bernie Wilson on Twitter at http://twitter.com/berniewilson