More science than art, Emirates Team New Zealand’s pre-Christmas training is all about time on the water whilst evaluating the foils and getting to grips with the new controls and systems on the team’s much modified LEQ12. But that’s only the half of it. Technique is at a premium with accuracy even more highly prized
And on a pitch-perfect day in Auckland with flat water and moderate breeze, the sailing team, this most remarkably cohesive and stable unit in the 37th America’s Cup, were working hard to push each other to higher performance, working together to understand the foil profile whilst trim and eke performance all round. It was an impressive display again from a team that looks to be well advanced, sails supremely well and pushes each other relentlessly.
At one point, Nathan Outteridge was seen coming out of his port pod to inspect the starboard foil, discussing with Peter Burling and Andy Maloney, pointing at the flap and cant, before returning to his helm station, no doubt with a new technique to try. Deeper cant was obvious today and the intersection with the water on both foil arms looks to be far smoother than we see on the pure one-design foils aided in a large part by the fencing array at the top join to the arm.
There was also plenty of looking upwards at the leeward mainsail skin – this is an area that all the AC teams have identified where gains are to be made and no longer is the leeward skin a forgotten item that merely mirrors the windward skin. Key controls here are at the foot and one would suspect that the split cunningham at the tack is equally a significant function although seeing the effect is probably one for the thermal images at the debrief unless the sailors can see that data on the water (not confirmed). The LiDAR cameras scan relentlessly so there’s plenty of shape and depth data with real time imagery for the sail design team and sailors to get immersed in after sailing.
It was a day for big tacks – 40 in total – with execution and exit speed being finessed. The recon team noted late board drops and in the recon video it’s noticeable the reduction in the tacking angle. In Jeddah at the Preliminary Regatta, the Kiwis had an ability to wriggle out of mid-fleet positions through better tacking and were more than comfortable to take leeward positions upwind to then put the squeeze on and force opponents away. All round, it’s the accuracy and racecraft that sets them apart. Today just built on that process.
Speaking afterwards, Ray Davies the Team Coach, described the day saying: “We had a little westerly and then a north-easterly, the two breezes were fighting. We transitioned into the north-easterly and just had glamour day and the outer golf out between Tiri and Rakino and we played around in 12 to 13 knots of wind for most of the afternoon and then sailed around the back of Motutapu and then got back into the westerly and had a nice sort of 12-13 knot beat all the way back up the harbour, so it finally feels like summer’s arrived.”
And Ray continued: “We’re still working on performance, at the moment there’s lots going on with changes to the foil and there’s always sail trim – there’s always something to learn there – technique and communication is pretty critical but we had pretty steady conditions which makes it a lot easier so it’s basically just manoeuvres and sailing accurately… we spend a lot of time working on technique and feel like there’s gains to be had there, and I think as we saw in that last regatta in Jeddah that manoeuvres are so important so yeah we put a lot of time into that.”
Talking about sailing in the summer conditions of flat water, 23 degree air temperature and 10-15 knots of breeze for the team that have chased the sun this year, Ray added: It’s a much easier day for them, they’re pretty comfortable in this boat on the flat water. Obviously, you’re not hearing the comms but it’s pretty chilled onboard you know the conditions today were as good as it gets, so pretty easy sailing for the guys out there today.”
Pretty chilled? Don’t you believe it. More to come in the next few days for Emirates Team New Zealand
On-Water Recon Report – Emirates Team New Zealand: A light, but building, northerly sea breeze was utilised by Emirates Team New Zealand in their LEQ12 testing today out on the Hauraki Gulf. Peter Burling and Nathan Outteridge were on the helm, and Andy Maloney and Blair Tuke in Flight Control. Sails used in today’s session were the M2-3 main and the J2-2 Jib.
With a dock-out of 12:15, the breeze had not yet filled in throughout the harbour, so the team opted to tow upwind towards Tiritiri Matangi. Just off Rakino Island, the team cut the tow at 13:09 and they were off foiling in about 10 knots of breeze. Not long into the session they came off the foils as they sailed into a lull. A couple of checks were carried out on the main sheeting system at 13:15. After only a 2-minute stop they were taking off again and sailing a long upwind towards Tiritiri Matangi into a building sea breeze.
Yesterday there were very few manoeuvres and a lot of the focus seemed to be on straight-line testing and sailing different modes. Today was quite different, with the boat looking very stable in flight and pitch, and loads of tacks performed with very short intervals between at times.
A few tacks from starboard to port were seen being made with quite late board drops, but all were fully foiling apart from a couple of early tacks in light breeze. They carried on tacking for a lengthy upwind before finally bearing away up near Tiritiri Matangi at 14:20. From here they performed multiple gybes downwind. The team then chose to cut through between Rakino and Motutapu Islands, then sailing through the Motuihe Channel all on mostly a long port gybe. Here they eventually ran through the northerly and were forced to tow-foil until around Browns Island where they met the converging Westerly breeze. From here it was an upwind beat back towards the base on the inside of Rangitoto Island in breeze that averaged between 12-15 knots.
Again, many tacks were carried out as the team made their way upwind back toward the base before dropping sails off the Viaduct Harbour.