Adam Mustill / America's Cup
ETNZ, foiling in light breeze on AC40 in LEQ12 version
Today, after what has been almost a month off the water for the traditional Kiwi summer break, the New Zealand juggernaut came back to work for a day of testing in light summer airs with their LEQ12 prototype adaptation of one of the team’s two AC40’s. Pete Burling and Blair Tuke, fresh off the plane from a thunderous victory at the SailGP grand prix in Singapore, joined Nathan Outteridge and Andy Maloney for what proved to be a light-airs afternoon session with a premium on maintaining flight.
The way the Kiwis are sailing the AC40 is interesting with a very noticeable windward heel upwind, International Moth style, and a high flight mode offwind as close to the edge of control as possible. It’s precision flying with highly accurate execution co-ordinating helm, sail trim and flight control into almost an art form and even after considerable time out of the LEQ12, the team were straight back into it. Beautiful at times.
Initial flight was achieved by a tow-up from the chase boat with the wind struggling in the transition zone of 7-8 knots but once the breeze came in at a more consistent 10 knots, there was no problem in attaining self-take-off. And once airborne, the team opted for straight-line data gathering rather than manoeuvrability, throwing in just 10 tacks and 8 gybes throughout the two-and-a-half-hour session.
Elise Beavis, the current Women’s Waszp World Champion, one of ETNZ’s Performance Engineers and a true global superstar of the foiling generation offered refreshingly honest insight into the first day after the break, saying: “It was really good getting back into the routine of things having had about a month off the water. The last time we were sailing, we were sailing 43 - the one design boat - but today we're back on 41 the LEQ12, and the processes around that in starting the day, ending the day and saving the data from the sailing day is a little bit different, so remembering those and also just all the processes going alongside the chase (boat) and stuff but everyone got back into the swing of things.”
Now with two boats in Auckland with the delivery of both AC40s, the much-anticipated match-racing scenarios are on the horizon as Elise continued: “I think we're still some weeks away but that's the goal to get into the two-boat programme so we can really work on the match-racing. And with the vision to the AC75’s, where we’re expecting the boats between all the teams to be a lot closer this time in Barcelona than in Auckland, that whole match racing skill side of things is going to be even more at play. As a team we see two boat match-racing practise to be quite a crucial part of it…we are still sailing one boat at the moment, and we’re swapping round crew and ensuring we've got enough people trained up to sail both boats.”
From here on, the programme will be at the intensity we’ve come to expect from the holders of the America’s Cup. Beavis offered that “we’ll have a new sail or two come online soon,” and that the time to start building the AC75 is “coming fast.” For all the teams training for AC37 in Barcelona, 2023 is the make-or-break year. Fascinating to watch. The Kiwis are very much back.