Final testing day for ETNZ ahead AC Jeddah Preliminary Regatta

Final testing day for ETNZ ahead AC Jeddah Preliminary Regatta

Final testing day for ETNZ ahead AC Jeddah Preliminary Regatta


21/11/2023 - 12:00

Pitch-perfect early-summer conditions down in Auckland with a southerly breeze that ranged from 9-16 knots and flat water afforded Emirates Team New Zealand a wide window for sail testing on Tuesday ahead of the team de-camping to Jeddah for the America’s Cup Preliminary Regatta, presented by NEOM, at the end of the month.

With two LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) cameras fitted to the LEQ12 moded AC40 today on either side, optimum sail shape and trim data was being captured for the M2 mainsail paired with both the J2 and J3 bespoke headsails with the sailors noticeably trying varying jib car positions. At times the headsail almost looked too bladed, sheeted close to the mast and stalling whilst at other times, a wide smooth angle appeared to release the boat in flight for speed. Clew position was also altered through the session with the trimmers adjusting the sheeting position down the four-point attachment holes to test a bigger twist-off in the leech.

Flight was magnificent and mesmerising today on a virtually empty Hauraki Gulf morning in the lee of Rangitoto Island with 100% foil-to-foil ratio across 26 tacks and 21 gybes and with the sail testing part of the session completed, the sailors put in some rapid windward/leeward laps and pre-start practice to sharpen their skills ahead of Jeddah. Bow-on, particularly on the new port foil, leeway looked remarkably lessened, especially when Nathan Outteridge and Blair Tuke in the port pod induced windward heel with a wider cant angle and gave the LEQ12 the ability to climb like Edmund Hillary to windward.

Another relatively short session for the Kiwis having docked-out early at 9.30am and returning to the base at just after midday but it was notable for its intensity and very much sticking to a pre-ordained plan for the day. The recon team on the water noted the sailor’s ability to run the J3 quite low down the wind range and being able to use it and still keep flying as winds dipped to the 10-12 knot mark. A change up to the J2 certainly released more horsepower and saw them through to the end of the session – interesting to see where the Kiwis believe the cross-overs are and how that will translate up to the AC75.

After sailing, Burns Fallow, the man credited with so many sailmaking innovations and details spoke to the recon team and gave his usual fascinating perspective into where the programme is with the LEQ12 in relation to the new AC75 saying: “Clearly the next sails we design are the real thing, and we only get to design six more mainsails in the campaign…and so whatever we can stretch out of this we can although there certainly are limitations because you know the mast is obviously very different from the big boat mast but there are there are aspects that we do chase down but you do have to take it with a grain of salt developing too much on the LEQ.”

A classic snippet from Burns about Barcelona conditions had a huge dose of truth at the end as he jokily opined: “ I was in Barcelona at the end of September, beginning of October and it was beautiful flat water every day so I don't know I don't believe in all of this wave stuff I think it's a myth…if you design things to averages you probably get it wrong.”

Looking at the competition, Burns was asked who they are watching and again he contextualised it appropriately saying: “Well it's all of them but we haven't really seen much new because anyone who's been sailing an old AC75's had to use old sails so yes there’s been some re-cutting and people trying different systems and things like that so really the cards don't get shown until someone throws one of these new boats in the water and then that will be interesting.”

With this testing block now complete in Auckland, focus shifts to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and some very temperate conditions across the Red Sea with highs of 34 degrees expected and a wide variety of sea states for the pure one-design AC40s. Emirates Team New Zealand will be looking for a great result to round out 2023 and give them momentum into what is going to be a very busy 2024. Stay tuned. (Magnus Wheatley)

On-Water Recon Report – Emirates Team New Zealand: Today was the final testing day for Emirates Team New Zealand ahead of the Preliminary Regatta of the 37th America’s Cup which will take place in Jeddah. Day 46 of the LEQ12 test boat was champagne. A dying breeze from the South was forecast, and although it did drop slightly through the session, the lowest windspeed average we saw on the stations was around 10 - 11 knots.

Sails were hoisted off North Head, going with the M2 and J3 to start. Average wind speed was around 13-14 knots with gusts to 16 at times from around 165-170 degrees. The team started sailing at 10:04 and kept their entire training session in the vicinity of the Rangitoto Channel, and as far up to Bastian Reef area off St Heliers.

A lot of today’s session was spent looking upwards at sail trim. It was interesting to see how long the team stayed sailing with the smaller J3 down range. They did not seem to have any trouble manoeuvring with the smaller sail, however. The manoeuvres today, although less than some other sessions, were flawless with all but a 360 turn being fully foiling. The yacht and the crew were working well and looked very locked in as they sailed various upwinds and downwinds in the training area.

At 11:15 the call was finally made to swap to the larger J2 Jib. By 11:18 after a Jib change and a snack, the team were back sailing. Breeze had dropped to around 10 - 12 knots by this stage. From this point on they practiced mostly pre-start drills, extending out upwind and back after a few of them. I’m sure the team were very keen to do a few of these to get their timing and teamwork in sync leading up to the regatta in Jeddah.

After 5 successful pre-start drills, the team decided to call it a day and headed up to Mechanics Bay to drop sails at 11:53. The on-water team all looked happy, joking around with each other as they docked in and headed for the base. It seems it was another successful day on the water, and the last until after Jeddah. We were lucky enough to catch up with sail designer Burns Fellow after sailing today to get his feelings on this latest test block for ETNZ.

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