America's Cup 2021: American Magic skipper Terry Hutchinson defends expensive foiling monohull format

NYYC American Magic skipper Terry Hutchinson refuses to criticise an America's Cup format that has seen his team exit early, after being eliminated from challenger contention.

Looking shaven and relaxed, now that his harrowing campaign is over, the veteran sailor has told The AM Show that the length of the regatta "felt about right", despite only three syndicates raising enough money to develop the costly AC75 foiling monohulls. 

"I'd love to keep racing," he admits. "But it's a tricky question, because the boats are hard to maintain and hard to race... they're very complex.

"It would be great to have more challengers. This is the entry fee into this - not the actual entry free, but the running cost is quite expensive.

"You'd love to have more competitors, but what you see there and the technology is quite expensive."

American Magic were the first offshore team to arrive in Auckland and settled as early favourites to face Emirates Team NZ for the 'Auld Mug' in March.

But their hopes crashed, when yacht Patriot caught a rogue gust of wind while making a turn in Prada Cup round-robin racing and smashed into the water, suffering a massive hole in the hull and fried onboard software.

While rivals spent two weeks racing and developing their boats further, the New York Yacht Club entry lost their competitive edge, scrambling just to get back on the water, and were swept by Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli in a first-to-four semi-final series.

Sailing commentators Ken Read and Richard Gladwell have both questioned the challenger schedule, ruing the sudden-death nature of a three-boat fleet.

"It is shocking to think we've just started," Read told The AM Show.

"I think when they go back and look at the scheduling at this event, there will be questions asked over time whether this was done properly for the challengers to pick the best person, because really they are just starting."

Said Sailing World editor Gladwell: "In Fremantle [1987], the round robins ran over three months, while the round robin here ran over just five days - it's just crazy."

But Hutchinson, 52, refuses to question the choice of boats made by cupholders Team NZ.

"That's not for me to decide - we didn't win," he insists. "It's a question for the defender and the next one, whoever that may be.

"You have to define what you want the event to be. I wasn't 100 percent certain this was going to be a great boat...

"Each time you go racing, regardless of the boat, it's always difficult.

"Is this difficult? Yeah, but that's part of the challenge and the coolest thing about it - that it is hard.

"When you see these guys out there, and you see us out there racing these boats and you see what happened to us, that's a demonstration of how hard it actually is."

The defeat has been particularly galling for Kiwi helmsman Dean Barker, who suffered his fifth straight America's Cup defeat on his home waters. His inability to capture the trophy has raised questions over his future in the event.

"Deano's a great sailor," says Hutchinson. "We've had some incredible racing with each other and against each other.

"The work that he did, particularly inside American Magic, when you see that was on display all the way through this programme, it's a great representation of his sailing skills.

"We all take it hard, but we're a team and we're there to support each other."

Watch the video for the full story and join us on February 13 for live updates of the America's Cup challenger series between Team UK and Luna Rossa