After a rare ‘mechanical’ yesterday, Emirates Team New Zealand brought their LEQ12 moded AC40 back in tip-top condition today for a two-and-a-half-hour session predominantly out by Rangitoto Island on a gloomy Auckland afternoon with winds all over the place gusting at 17 knots at times and dropping in the lee to 9 knots.
From the outside looking in, it appeared a ‘meat-and-potatoes’ day for the Kiwis who, once launched out of their Wynyard Harbour base, applied the pressure to the LEQ12 up the main channel towards Devonport and looked solid as a rock in flight with Blair Tuke and Andy Maloney just keeping it low and steady upwind in the flatter water and dicing with added height downwind.
The concentration seemed to be very much up aloft, with necks craned skywards assessing sail shape and plenty of attention being paid to mast rotation particularly upwind with Pete Burling at one point coming out of his pod to look at the mast base controls. So smooth is the trim on the LEQ12 that it’s hard to appreciate the head-spinning matrix that the sailors are applying between mainsheet tension, cunningham, anti-rotation, flattener and traveller but in flatter water they look sublime.
Interesting observation today from the recon team on the water who noted that the LEQ12: “seemed noticeably faster on starboard upwind on the new foil (port side) especially with the extra breeze around 13 – 15knots.” The recon team estimated the port tack speed gain at some “2 knots” which is significant, if true, with the torpedo shaped port side bulb working super-efficiently in the increased breeze that they will look to test further later this week as the wind stays up. And with the Chase Boat following very closely behind, much closer than we normally see, and plenty of photographs taken looking upwards, from the leeward side at the middle and top third of the outer skin of the mainsail it’s clear that the Kiwis are working hard on the aero side this week.
At almost two hours into the session, Pete Burling stepped off the LEQ12 and allowed Josh Junior to replace him, affording Pete, one of the brightest engineering brains in this America’s Cup cycle, the opportunity to see the sail trim and controls from off the boat.
Speaking afterwards, Pete tellingly noted: “Well it’s always good to have a bit of redundancy, so you know we’re trying to keep Joshy up to skill with all the areas, he’s doing an absolutely awesome job and it’s also nice to get off and have a look at it from off the boat every now and then as well – it always looks slightly different from onboard to off-board, you can look at a lot of videos but to actually get off and see it is a great as well, so yeah nice flat water, middle of the road conditions today so an awesome opportunity to do it.”
Pete also has a very keen eye for control details saying: “It’s just interesting to see how the systems work and little bits and pieces and we’re obviously trying to progress forward as quickly as we can so just to be able to see it from a side-on perspective, it’s good… We’ve got a few details changing all the time and yeah for us this is a great opportunity to try and get through some learnings. Obviously, you can’t do much on the foils or the sails in the AC75 environment which we’ve been spending a lot of time on over the over the European summer, our winter, so it’s awesome to be back here and actually to put some of the ideas into practise.”
Tight manoeuvres dominated the latter part of the session today with a tally count of 26 tacks and 18 gybes almost all foil-to-foil, and certainly in anger over short made-up courses around the various buoys of Rangitoto and Cheltenham Beach. Impressive sailing from the Kiwis again who are looking for the gains and know where to look. (Magnus Wheatley)
On-Water Recon Report – Emirates Team New Zealand: Day 42 for Emirates Team New Zealand on the LEQ 12 proved to be slightly different conditions to the sunshine and clear skies of the last couple of weeks. Today was gloomy, overcast and with the promise of showers at some point throughout the day. Breeze was up and down as rain cells passed close by to the west, seeing as little as 9 knots and as much as 17 knots out on the training area. After docking out at midday as planned, sails were hoisted, and the team was sailing by 12:20. M2 and J2 were the sails used for the entire session.
The team began the sailing session with a few manoeuvres off the Viaduct harbour and Yacht Squadron just below the harbour bridge. After some control issues yesterday on the foils, the team seemed eager to load up the boat and check everything was working well, which it was. After a small session here, the team blasted down the harbour and headed out around North Head and based most of today’s training up between Rangitoto Lighthouse and A Buoy at the end of the shipping channel.
The boat was looking smooth, and even with the increasing sea state of up to 0.4m, the team were locked in. Running some decent height and windward heel on the upwinds, and really pushing the ride height downwind, the boat looked fast. It seemed noticeably faster on starboard upwind on the new foil especially with the extra breeze around 13 – 15knots we were seeing at the time. The team were sailing in quite a small zone which forced a lot of manoeuvres. They were using marker buoys where possible to practice mark roundings, and even did a quick practice start at one point.
Over 25 tacks and 18 gybes were recorded today, and many high-speed round-ups and bear-aways were seen as well. Eventually the sea state became a little too big here next to Rangitoto, so the team set up to do some more testing near North Head off Cheltenham Beach in flatter water. The boat came to a stop and the chase boat came alongside. Peter Burling jumped onto the chase boat and Josh Junior, an Olympic Finn Sailor, took his place. The team carried on with a very similar format of training, short up and down winds including lots of tacks and gybes. Here we saw another slight build in the average wind speed and were seeing 15-17 knots at times.
At 1407 the team left this training area and headed toward home. Sails were dropped at 1415 and the team were back on the dock just after 1430. The yacht was lifted out by 1500 and the team went back into the shed looking content with the short, but sweet, session of the day. We managed to grab Peter Burling, one of Emirates TNZ’s Helmsman for the interview today to try and give us an insight into the direction of the testing today and going forward.
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