Sunday, December 3, 2023
HomeRegattaAmerica's CupFoiling Fury: ETNZ and the AC75 Spectacle

Foiling Fury: ETNZ and the AC75 Spectacle

Up close and personal with an AC75 is truly one of the great spectacles of world sport. The rigging whistling in the wind, the foils kicking off plumes of spray, the noise of the traveler and mast rotation screeching out in short, terrifying piques, and the sheer visceral power that leaves every other vessel on the water standing like statues is something that literally makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. In short, the AC75 is the ultimate foiling raceboat on the planet today.

After a quick pit-stop to change down headsails that required a man up the mast to free the lock, the Kiwis performed a series of ‘S’ bends on port gybe/tack bearing-away fast downwind before heading back up and then bearing away again. The suspicion was that this was all about target data gathering and polars in the conditions, as the turns got faster and the bear-aways more aggressive. After that test session was completed, Te Rehutai bore away and rocketed down to the busy Barceloneta beachfront before the W Hotel promontory and dialed in a pre-set course on their onboard computer after a cyclor change.

On the racecourse, it was all business with the Kiwis starting fast and just pushing like crazy upwind and down with desperately rapid imaginary mark roundings and some super-flat gybe angles downwind. The Flight Control was extraordinary, I didn’t see a single touchdown all day and the way Andy and Blair are controlling the boat is on another planet. After 20 minutes of rapier-fast racing, the day was done, and the end of the session was called. Just a perfect day on the water with the Defenders of the America’s Cup for a reason.

 You get a very good sense of the team camaraderie and the understated Kiwi confidence. Information was freely imparted but on an unsaid condition and what really shone through was just how much Emirates Team New Zealand, from top to bottom, are enjoying being in Barcelona. They’ve been taken to the Catalonian’s hearts as almost the ‘home team’ and their presence in the Port Vell is felt by everyone around the America’s Cup community. The team to beat for sure – to do so will require an almighty effort and they’re not giving up the Cup without a heck of a fight.

Job Vermeulen / America’s Cup

Speaking afterwards Cam Webster, a cyclor and champion U23 rower, who absolutely epitomises the spirit of Emirates Team New Zealand gave a great analysis of the cyclor role onboard versus the rowing world where he achieved greatness saying: “I guess the main differences would be here it’s quite peaky efforts there’s a lot of max efforts and a lot of rest and in a rowing boat it’s very consistent you sort of ramp into the effort over a long period of time whereas here you sort of warm up and then you have a lot on during the different manoeuvres and a lot of peaking efforts where you’ve got to provide a lot of hydraulic pressure.”

And when talking about whether the cyclor systems are linked or individual, Cam offered: “It’s one system we power all of the above water functions – the main traveller and adjusting the jib – yeah we provide the hydraulic pressure that’s required for that and as I said before at times it’s a lot harder than others depending on how many functions that the boys and the helm and the Flight Controller are requiring but mainly it’s just building the hydraulic pressure for the boys and the main parts.”

Looking at how the cyclors link into such an effective unit, Cam confirmed that they are all on one system but that there’s high co-ordination between the cyclor unit: “We can have access to power and heart rate and cadence, we try and link up together at a specific cadence, that’s to ensure that we don’t overspin each other most of the time. We’re pretty good at that. We have our individual heart rates to ensure that we’re not going too far and then gassing ourselves out early in the day.”

Emirates Team New Zealand really performed today and the sweat on the bodies of the cyclors was testament to the effort exerted. Ice vests and plenty of fluid and fuel were passed around but the result was another stellar performance where the Kiwis delivered and the defence of the 37th America’s Cup gets stronger by the day

On-Water Recon Unit Notes: ETNZ rolled out their B2 AC75 from the shed at 10.33 am. The boat was craned to the water at 11:05 and the team docked out at 12.00. The M1 and the J1 were hoisted at 12:11, inside the harbor.

The first part of the training consisted of sailing upwind on numbers in a straight line.

It seemed that they were testing to sail with the boat slightly heeled forward, with the bow closer to the waterline than the stern. The lower shrouds were pretty loose in today´s configuration and the forestay looked tighter than yesterday

At 12:40 there was a short stop to fix something on the starboard side foil flap, that seemed to be obstructing its movement. Two team members had to work using tools sitting on the starboard arm, for three minutes approximately. Just a minor thing.

Afterwards, the training continued with a long downwind leg practicing some head-ups and bear-aways.

At 14:03, when the J1 had to be replaced for the J3 due to the increase of the true wind speed, an unexpected issue arose. The jib halyard seemed to be stucked in the jib halyard mast case and block.

The running rigger manager had to climb up on the mast to try to release it. Finally, six minutes afterwards, the J3 was up and the training continued.

After a couple more gybes, head-ups and bear-aways and once closer to the shore, ETNZ practiced an upwind-downwind three lap virtual course, performing three tacks and gybes per leg.

ETNZ did approximately 17 tacks and 27 gybes today, foiling on almost all of them, consolidating another day of strong boat handling and maneuvering performance.

At the end of the day, when the J3 had to be dropped, the jib halyard had to be released from the discontinuous point, as it was not possible to release it completely from the top, confirming some trouble on the jib mast case and block.

It was another good day for ETNZ on the water training, that seemed to be able to check their boxes of objectives for the day, despite those minor issues.

Sailing conditions: Five to ten knots of true wind speed at sea level prevailed today, direction 140/145 turning to 160/165 and reaching as far right as 185, increasing and turning right during the day.

Mostly flat sea state, just a slight 0,4m organized swell.

Sails were lowered at 15:35, the boat was back in the dock at 16:00, craned out at 16:20 and back in the shed at 16:50.

Sebastian Peri Brusa – Recon on ETNZ




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