Adam Mustill / America's Cup
ENTZ, working on the foils and racing software
While the AC sailors in the northern hemisphere don drysuits and sit shoreside dodging inclement but frequent storms, it’s a different story down in Auckland where fast-dry T-shirts, shorts and heavy-tint goggles are currently the pre-requisite for summer days on the Hauraki Gulf.
For Emirates Team New Zealand, the team whose training programme will unashamedly be chasing the sun around the globe, it was a day for light air transition training as Mother Nature called a halt to the wind Gods. With the breeze struggling all morning, the team docked-out at midday with the safety of the Chase Boat to provide a tow-up but the initial flight was self, and Pete Burling and Nathan Outteridge had an afternoon of hard concentration to ‘pop’ to flight and then keep the LEQ12 airborne.
From a sailing perspective, precision was the overriding take-away of the day out in what the Kiwis call the ‘Back Paddock’ near the Coromandel and it’s very clear that progress is being made in the sheer technique of light-air flying – vital for the expected mean conditions in Barcelona. Tacks were rapier-fast through the turn and then precisely steered bang on the wind – no luff, no bear-away, almost as if flying purely on numbers and pre-set angles. The boat was set-up low upwind, canted to windward, eking maximum power whilst offwind was remarkably undramatic – relatively high but conservative.
The recon unit captured some very nice photos of the much-talked-about and intricate port foil on the ETNZ LEQ12 that today sported what is assumed to be a flow-strip on the outer section and marker strips for easy analysis of the camera footage that ran relentlessly through the session. Does that foil bend under load? How much movement does the incredible arc of the flap afford? And is the flap all one piece that moves as one? These are some of the questions that are being asked alongside the sheer engineering of such a delicate looking foil.
Sadly, answers in verbal form weren’t forthcoming today, as ETNZ fielded software programmer, Jeremy Parker, for a very short post-session interview that stayed determinedly off-topic but did reveal that the team are testing their race software. With marks laid for the LEQ12 to round, albeit more today for the documentary-makers to get some race-pace action shots, it’s clear that ETNZ is lining up for the start of the two-boat testing season. What will be interesting then is to see Pete Burling going head-to-head with Nathan Outteridge start after start on opposite boats and then to see who the team will promote into the helming roles accompanying the team’s Olympic Gold medallists. More on this coming soon.
It’s summer days out in Auckland with heat set to rise in the coming weeks. Stay tuned.