Sailing: First America's Cup challengers up and running in Auckland

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - American Magic, the first challengers for the America’s Cup to have arrived in New Zealand, marked their inaugural day of testing in Auckland on Monday.

In contrast, three other challenging syndicates, INEOS Team UK, Italy’s Luna Rossa and Stars and Stripes USA, have yet to arrive.

“It was fantastic to be out there and sailing on New Zealand waters again,” Dean Barker, the New Zealand skipper of the team, told TVNZ.

“It has been close to five months since we last sailed the boat so it is sort of just finding your way again.”

The syndicate from the New York Yacht Club arrived in late June after the New Zealand government granted them exemptions to travel to the country to begin their preparations for the challenger series early next year.

The first edition of their AC-75 foiling monohull, named Defiant, spent much of the training session sailing around areas that organisers have designated as five potential race courses.

The challenger series for the Prada Cup runs from Jan 15-Feb. 22, 2021 before the America’s Cup match against holders Team New Zealand begins on March 6.

Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Edwina Gibbs