America's Cup, Kiwis seeking waves
America's Cup, Kiwis seeking waves
In training for the last America’s Cup in Auckland in 2021, the teams actively sought out flat-water around the various inlets and bays of the Hauraki Gulf and depending on the wind direction could pretty much find what they sought on a daily basis. Now with the 37th America’s Cup in Barcelona and the expected October swells, it’s a very different story, especially for Emirates Team New Zealand who by dint of being the Defenders of the Cup have a pass directly through to the Match.
So, when the opportunity arises to sail in waves, the Kiwis are taking it and with the relentless north-easterlies that have sat over Auckland since before the weekend, the swell that it has kicked up is just perfect for crew training on the AC75. Today the skittishness was gone as the Kiwis fitted their longer rudder and this allowed for a far prettier bow-down trim, especially downwind where before it was, as Nathan Outteridge described: “all on to keep the rudder in the water.” The extra length seemed to give Pete Burling and Outteridge a little added confidence today (Thursday) as they barrelled around just off Mechanics Bay threading Te Rehutai through the waves downwind and blunder-busting upwind with windward heel through the 1.5 metre chop.
The travails of yesterday with the blown tack that caused the jib to rip from the forestay and hurtle back down the port side just as Josh Junior was adjusting the leech line (poor chap) was yesterday’s news. The Kiwi shore team were in on it quickly overnight and as Ray Davies said: “Yeah remarkably little damage, we weren’t 100% sure if we were going to be able to go sailing today until we did all our checks - not many battens left in that jib - and I’m sure everyone has seen that the footage - that's what happens when there's like 55 knots of apparent wind. Even in super slow motion it peels back pretty quickly.”
This was Emirates Team New Zealand’s third day of sailing in a row and their fourteenth sailing Te Rehutai since re-launch on the 20th March 2023 and the benefits of this programme have been immense. Pete Burling reflected yesterday on the improvements to the power train via the cyclors and it’s clear that getting the hydraulics right is something that can only be effectively done and trialled at scale but equally, the sailing style that the helms, trimmers and flight controllers are developing are new skills in these AC75s. Ray Davies sees huge positives and progression saying: “I think it’s just time on the water for sure, just getting used to what the waves do, where you need to turn relative to the waves and yeah both Pete and Nathe just coming up and Andy and Blair all being more and more on the same page. It’s definitely a challenge but time on the water and we’re finding it easier today than the beginning of the week for sure.”
It was low flight and ultra-control all afternoon today and as Davies says, a big improvement on recent days. Long runs through the chop allowed for plenty of trim adjustments whilst through the tacks the team were co-ordinated with fast board drops right on the turn, then a simple carry through the wind on both boards followed by a fast raise of the windward foil to herald the windward heel and bring on the power. Majestic to watch.
Emirates Team New Zealand have blocked out every day for the remainder of April as possible ‘sailing sessions’ on the recon portal and will be desperate to get out there so long as the north easterlies persist. Stay tuned.