Emirates Team New Zealand sign off the AC75 in Auckland

Emirates Team New Zealand sign off the AC75 in Auckland

Emirates Team New Zealand sign off the AC75 in Auckland


17/05/2023 - 06:39

There was very much a feeling of the last day of term in Auckland as Emirates Team New Zealand signed off on their antipodean summer training session before packing up ‘Te Rehutai,’ and loading her on a ship bound for Barcelona in a few months’ time. The sailors signed off in style though with a five-hour session, navigating all around the sailing waters in the shadow of Rangitoto Island, concentrating on flight height and boat handling of the much-modified AC75, now in close-to Version 2 mode, in which they look increasingly comfortable.

To watch the Kiwis sailing now as opposed to in the last America’s Cup is to see them flying far lower to the surface, especially pronounced on the flat waters they encountered today, with the bustle of ‘Te Rehutai’ skimming the surface upwind with maximum apparent wind whilst going scarily high off wind where the apparent wind has less effect. In the late summer light, Blair Tuke and Andy Maloney relentlessly kept low to the deck as Pete Burling and Nathan Outteridge pushed ever harder. Over some short-course racing late in the session, the intensity was noticeably ramped up – time on distance is meat and potatoes for the Kiwis, it’s all about tight manoeuvres and circling now as the Kiwis fought an imaginary battle in the pre-start box, executing fast and exiting faster. Impressive to watch and yes they nailed the ‘T-O-D’ too.

The AC75 programme will pick up again quickly in Barcelona with the team itching to test themselves on the America’s Cup racetrack and see for themselves the much-vaunted swell conditions that they have tried hard to find and replicate this summer in Auckland. In 8-10 knots ‘Te Rehutai’ flies but it’s marginal, above that and the boat is on rails with assured flight, so it’s the lower end that the team will be working on hard.

What will undoubtedly be key is the inter-relationship between rig and sails with plenty of development runway to play with. Burns Fallow, the genius and long-serving sail-designer of Emirates Team New Zealand was onboard today to see up close the size of the challenge that lays ahead for him and his team in the coming months. Stepping ashore, Burns commented: “Everything on these boats is integrated and as each campaign’s gone on you get more and more involved in other departments, and rig design’s a big part of it, especially with these twin skin sails but certainly they all act as one, as I guess they do on any boat, but we definitely approach the two of them together for sure.”

Today the Kiwis set the smaller M2 mainsail which is their go-to in around the 10-12 knot range and above. Speaking about that, Burns said: “These are clearly sails from the (last) Cup so we know them well by now, yeah it (the M2) was at the minimum of the old range but we can have smaller sails than that now going forward in the new rule so we kind of want to feel our feet up range and see if that's how we want to be, you know as big as we are, or maybe a little smaller.”

But the overall perspective from a sail and aero designer’s eye was interesting as Burns offered: “We have to evolve because that boat won't be quick enough to win the next Cup. That’s just an assumption every Cup winner has to take so there will be evolution but of course you have to wait and see what that is for another few months…I think we had plenty of revolution in the last one, there was a lot of stuff we thought we knew and now we do know, so I guess that by default that makes it evolution whereas last time we didn't know anything so it had to be revolutionary.”

The Kiwi design machine is in full flow now and the America’s Cup world will have over a year to wait until we see the next iteration of New Zealand sailing philosophy. Be in no doubt that they’ll be on the money. Next stop Barcelona for ‘Te Rehutai’ alongside the team’s two AC40s – it’s going to be an interesting European summer ahead.

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