America's Cup 2021: Foiling monohulls never realised potential - Emirates Team NZ designer Dan Bernasconi

While most of his teammates celebrated their latest America's Cup success, Emirates Team NZ designer Dan Bersconi secretly wished for another day's sailing on Thursday.

The Kiwis have clinched their defence of the 'Auld Mug', with a decisive win over Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli on the Hauraki Gulf, sweeping the last five races to seal the best-of-13 series 7-3.

Racing was again delayed by light and shifty winds that required the northernmost Course A to be adjusted before the start, but once that was achieved, Team NZ led at every mark to eventually prevail by 46 seconds.

The finals series was plagued by fickle breezes that forced race postponements and cancellations, and course realignments.

For the most part, races were sailed near the lower limits of allowable wind - an average of 6.5 knots was needed. One day, no racing at all was possible, one race was decided after both boats fell off their foils and the match was stalled on matchpoint, when officials could not reset the course before the 6pm deadline. 

So Bernasconi, the unsung hero who masterminded the AC75 foiling monohull class for this event, was perhaps the most disappointed member of the winning team, as champagne bottles exploded around him, sensing he was just one day away from seeing his creation in full flight for the first time.

"We were looking at tomorrow's forecast and thinking it would be a little silver lining, if we were racing tomorrow, because the breeze was up and it would have been great to actually do some racing in more breeze," he admits.

"Why you didn't give us the point?" pleads Luna Rossa boss Max Sirena.

"There were some pros and cons," chuckles Bernasconi.

"For sure, the boat loves the breeze. Upwind in 15-20 knots is absolutely sensational and we saw a bit of that early in the regatta.

"The boat has a lot more to give in those conditions, but it's also good in the light-to-moderate stuff as well. In the design rule we decided in the beginning, we didn't allow changing of foils day to day, so you had to come out with a boat that was good across the range.   

"That kept costs down, it made things simpler and it proved you could have a really competitive boat that is good across the range, but it would be great to see, in a future edition of this, a bigger range of conditions."

America's Cup has been at the forefront of boat design over the past decade, utilising foiling catamarans at San Francisco 2013 and Bermuda 2017, and now flying monohulls. Just where the event turns next is anyone's guess, although the current class has support among the current racers. 

"It's produced racing beyond our expectations, so I'm really happy with the class," says Bernasconi. "There's always a risk, when you go to a completely new class, that it would be a bit one-sided.

"That was something we worried about - that somebody would get it right and somebody would get it wrong, and the racing wouldn't be there - but an absolute amazing effort by Luna Rossa design team. It was so close."