Sailing: Final America's Cup preparations begin as yachts arrive in New Zealand

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - The next America’s Cup has come firmly into focus with all of the challenging syndicates’ second generation hulls of the AC75 foiling monohulls expected to be in New Zealand on Sunday.

FILE PHOTO: Sailing - America's Cup finals - Hamilton, Bermuda - June 24, 2017 - Oracle Team USA crosses finish line to beat Emirates Team New Zealand in race six of America's Cup finals. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo

British challengers INEOS Team UK said their hull arrived in Auckland on Friday while Luna Rossa expected to receive their hull on Sunday after it left Italy on Friday.

Both will be fitted out at their team bases and are scheduled to be on the water by the end of October.

The arrival of the hulls in New Zealand signalled the winding down of the second stage of testing for the challenging syndicates, with American Magic confirming they had decommissioned their first-generation yacht.

TVNZ reported that holders Team New Zealand are due shortly to decommission their first-generation boat, named Te Aihe.

American Magic were the first challengers to get their yacht, named Defiant, on the water in September 2019 and then arrive in New Zealand for next year’s regatta.

“Defiant has been an absolutely perfect tool for us to use in the development process,” American Magic skipper and executive director Terry Hutchinson said in a statement.

“With this type of boat, with the foils and the sails and the hull forms and the systems inside the boat all being incredibly complicated, it has been a great platform for us to learn on.”

All of the team are allowed to build two versions of the yachts that have been introduced for the 36th America’s Cup, which will be raced from January-March next year.

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

Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Dan Grebler