A day high on technique with an emphasis on speed out of manoeuvres and pushing the foil profiles to their limits was the session order for Emirates Team New Zealand out on the Hauraki Gulf this afternoon. A short two-and-a-half hours but some of the most intense training we’ve seen in the LEQ12 moded AC40 as the Kiwi testing programme ramps-up with added confidence building into the technology coming onstream.
After a 1pm dock-out, Pete Burling and Nathan Outteridge called for the sail hoist up in Mechanics Bay and with the J3 jib set, the sailors were immediately into some quite exquisite gybes, holding the mainsail to windward on the entry to give a tight angle out of the manoeuvre before dropping the traveller back down to the centreline. Power generation looked immense and was carried through on some blistering downwind legs on very flat water and around 12 knots of south-westerly breeze.
Upwind on the new port foil, and its bullet shaped bulb, there was some notable steering twitches with Pete Burling eking to windward whilst Andy Maloney and Blair Tuke kept quite a wide cant profile with the outer wing just breaking the surface and inducing a low ride height. As the session progressed, it felt more like a manoeuvre-fest with the team pushing into some uncomfortable situational scenarios using the double-board down technique being practised which on reality on a racecourse gives the helms so many options particularly in the pre-start and final line-ups to the start-line.
Emirates Team New Zealand are dynamite in practice, shadow-boxing like a middle-weight and pushing continually out of the box to find the limits. As the breeze built with gusts around 16 knots, the only difference is the ride gets resolutely lower, the windward heel increases, and the trim gets even more accurate.
Talking about the trim, Nathan Outteridge the true ‘find’ of this America’s Cup cycle and a smart appointment by the Kiwis, noted: “There’s obviously plenty of controls on the main you’ve got Cunningham, (mast) rotation, clew position, mainsheet traveller so it’s a combination of all of those things that you need to do to get the boat through a wide range of wind speeds and boat speeds as well. So, it’s beautiful having batteries to power the whole thing so you can pull stuff as fast as you want and it’s perfect for testing different sail shapes and you know what it’s like here, it’s quite puffy so you can go from 8 knots to 14 knots very quickly, and you require a very different sail shape when you go through those so it is part of the testing programme.”
Summing up an intense day, Nathan added: “We’re just getting comfortable with both the foils again, we were just sort of starting to push the manoeuvres a little bit more and do things a little bit more out-of-the-box and just try and work out how they perform when you put different loads through them and up until today I guess we’ve just been doing the standard tacks and gybes, today we sort of mixed it up a bit and yeah it’s good fun.”
The million dollar question was posed to Nathan about how testing on the AC40 scales up to the AC75 and he responded: “Ultimately all the controls we have on the AC40, we have on the AC75, I guess the difference is powering it with batteries versus manual human power but everything that we’re doing at this scale in testing, does scale up really well so it’s nice to build custom sails and just see how the controls affect the sails shapes and twist profiles and that’s sort of us now for the next few months here testing and developing and getting ready to build sails and foils and systems for the race boat next year.”
In total Emirates Team New Zealand executed 45 tacks at a 95% foil-to-foil success ration whilst over the 32 gybes it was a bullseye with 100% being foil-foil. The on-water team recon team noted: “Lots of manoeuvres today, and circles including full tacks and gybes in each circle. Sailing for periods with both foils down through multiple manoeuvres. Also, some glide tacks with slow turns through head to wind. Couple of manoeuvres landed on new foil before full cant setting too so it seemed.”
Great day for the Kiwis and more to come this week with a decent breeze forecast through Thursday and Friday for the LEQ12 to get some much-desired up-range testing in.
On-Water Recon Report – Emirates Team New Zealand: A consistent breeze from the southwest delivered some great conditions for Emirates Team New Zealand today out on the Hauraki Gulf. Averaging around 15 knots with gusts up to 18, Day 43 on the LEQ12 test boat, was a good one.
The day started with a dock out at 13:00 before hoisting sails off Mechanics Bay a short time after. The team then commenced sailing by popping up on the foils on starboard tack off Tamaki Wharf at 13:24 before bearing away and heading downwind toward Browns Island while completing a few manoeuvres on the way. This included some gybes, big round ups and even a couple of circles off Bean Rock. It was evident the team were feeling confident in the boat and with their handling after having a few great sessions under their belts since returning from overseas.
After the initial downwind, most of the testing session took place between Browns Island and Rangitoto where the southwest breeze seemed to be funnelling and very consistent. The team carried out a few upwind and downwind laps with very short intervals between tacks and gybes. Manoeuvres were locked in and so was the yacht.
It did seem however, a few of the manoeuvres and turns were slower than normal. Some of the foil arm drops also seemed slower than others but all were smooth and seemed to work well. The only bad manoeuvres we saw today were when the team were really pushing the boat around in circles and at one point seemed to lose flow over the new foil and crashed down. This type of thing can be expected in these sessions however, as they were really pushing the boat a load more than we have seen in the last few sailing days. A couple of tacks were even held halfway through where the yacht was basically foiling head to wind for a period before steering through to complete the tacks. This may have been a drill or maybe cant was not at target on the new foil. Whatever it was, however, the tacks were full foiling and very little, if any, losses were made.
As the session continued, the manoeuvres intensified. The team set up just past Bean Rock to the northeast at 14:38. Here they carried out multiple manoeuvres and 360 degree turns in both directions in a small space of time and area. One section of the testing even included multiple manoeuvres, both tacks and gybes, whilst keeping both foils in the water and still maintaining sufficient boat speed to not even get close to losing the rudder elevator lift. From the outside this all would have looked like a pre-start drill, however it carried on for nearly 10 minutes with no stoppage. Obviously, the sailors and also the engineers monitoring the yacht were very confident in the way the yacht was performing.
After what was not a long session, but one of the more intense we have seen, the team sailed upwind into Mechanics Bay to drop sails just before 1500 hours. The team looked happy and in good spirits as they arrived back at the dock at 15:30 before lifting out at 16:00.
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