America's Cup: Kiwis keep it short and focussed in Auckland

America's Cup: Kiwis keep it short and focussed in Auckland

America's Cup: Kiwis keep it short and focussed in Auckland


28/04/2024 - 07:20

With forecast conditions showing a shut-down in the wind later on Saturday, Emirates Team New Zealand called for an early, 8.30am, dock-out to catch the best of the day on Saturday and complete their eleventh day of training. Pushing the sail trim programme hard, it was a day for the tweakers to play around with particularly the double-skin mainsail with emphasis seemingly on the area around the tack.

Flight was smooth as always with great end-plating effect being achieved on the super-flat waters out by the Back Paddock in Auckland and lift-off was all attained under their own power throughout the session. Taihoro has an easy form in flight with the back two thirds of the angular bustle, hunkering down close to perfection, leaving the bow just risen from the water’s surface. The power generated is enormous and even in the 5-10 knot conditions with legacy foils being carried, she just flew.

Interesting to note the wide cant angles that the team run and, where possible, they keep the mode flat and only occasionally, as they power through a lull do they induce any kind of windward heel. After just 35 minutes of smooth flight, Nathan Outteridge and Blair Tuke could be seen standing on the transom and looking deep into the innovative traveller and mainsheet system that Emirates Team New Zealand have designed. Whether an issue there was the reason for the day being short, is unknown but soon after the sails came down and the boat was put on a tow back to base to dock-in at 10.15am. Short and sweet, another session under their belts.

In the lighter airs, the pain lockers at the back of the boat where the cyclors, virtually unseen, pump out the watts relentlessly, is undoubtedly the busiest part of the boat. With micro adjustments being made to keep the boat flying, the demand in the light is intense and requires athletes at the very peak of their powers. One such athlete and endurance multi-sport champion is Dougal Allen who is a key part of the cyclor programme and one of the most popular members of the team.

Speaking about joining Emirates Team New Zealand with absolutely no sailing background but plenty of astonishing feats of endurance that have garnered him countless medals and championships, Dougal gave a brilliant insight into the team’s mentality saying: “It's been awesome joining Emirates Team New Zealand for sure, like definitely career highlight and becoming part of team with a proven history of success so yeah it's all looking forward towards the America's Cup for me now, I don't look back all that often because everything in front of me is so exciting so it's just really awesome to be here and be part of the team.”

And he continued: “It started nearly two years ago really for a lot of us so part of it is the fitness side so being in the gym, riding the bike, and getting really physically fit and part of it is the more technical aspects to the role which you can only really learn by being on the AC75 and sailing so it's sort of a combination of the two.”

The technicalities of being a cyclor and often mis-understood by the sailing fraternity and building the power unit into a cohesive team is what the endless hours on the water are all about. Dougal gave an insight into this saying: “When we're on the boat it's really important that we can deliver power when it's needed so that's really what it comes down to. Anyone could sit on a bike and pedal as hard as they can but, it's more than that and it's about working together, there's four of us on the boat cycling, so it's no different to say sitting in a white water raft, you're trying to deliver power as a uniform team so that's where we've been focusing on, being as good as we can...I think part of the learning is the open channels of communication so definitely between segments of sailing we will sit together and debrief how we’re going and I think what's really cool in this team is we can be open and honest and always look for ways to be better as a as a group so definitely there's a lot of conversation involved.”

The programme goes on and the hours are racking up for Emirates Team New Zealand who have hit the ground running with their new boat and are well down the road in its development. For sure, a mighty defence of the Louis Vuitton 37th America’s Cup is on.


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