Emirates Team New Zealand’s meticulous evaluation of ‘final card’ foils underscores the meticulous planning and attention to detail essential for a successful America’s Cup campaign. The upcoming decisions on foil selection will play a pivotal role in shaping their competitive strategy for the championship defense.
day was a tough one for the engineers with the shore team initially spotting a flaw on the port foil that delayed launch and then the sailors suffering what was described as a ‘control issue’ on a fast bear-away on the new starboard foil where the LEQ12 moded AC40 got all out of whack at high speed and only some very quick and experienced reactions from the crew saved it from capsize.
Analysing the bear-away in slow-motion, the initial part of the turn seemed okay with Nathan Outteridge and Andy Maloney controlling well from the port pods. Then as the boat came to a reaching course, something let go and the boat splashed in to windward before lurching away and beginning a sky-rocket. Reactive control saw the port pod team drop the windward board to regain control and then quick-thinking from Nathan brought the boat round into wind. The inevitable broach occurred as the LEQ12 rounded up and it was a close-run thing to avoid a capsize.
Quite what the issue was onboard was hard to see and certainly coming back ashore after a tow-in with the starboard foil arm raised at three-quarters, there didn’t appear to be any obvious sign of foil damage or UFO collision damage on either of the foils. The technicians came onboard and sat in Pete Burling’s seat on the starboard pod and ran through various Foil Cant System checks which may offer a clue but the boat was smartly taken out and rolled back into the shed for further diagnostic analysis.
Speaking afterwards, Nathan Outteridge gave an update saying: “Yeah bit of a control system issue today, these things happen from time to time, and we managed to get both boards down and spin the boat head to wind before having any issues. But yeah, we got quite a bit of heel as you probably saw, and you know we sat there made an assessment on if we could get the issue fixed or if we had to bring it back and unfortunately today it was one of those days where we couldn’t repair it on the water, so we brought it back in and having a look at it now.”
Asked about the feel of the new foil, Nathan added: “It’s probably still early days on the foil but overall, it’s going really well. It’s interesting, you know final foil, it’s the most important time probably in the campaign to get the foil sorted now we’ve got our final two test foils in the boat doing a bit of a comparison between the two and getting a good feel of controllability as well, so far all going well.”
The team are eyeing a quick return to the water tomorrow with Nathan saying: “I hope we get back out again tomorrow just depends on what the guys find with the foil and you know if we can resolve the control system issue we had today but you know the one thing I’ve learned about this team is that if there’s a problem everyone will work really hard to fix it, quicker than you expect, and yeah so I don’t think you’ll get a day off tomorrow!”
And who would bet against the Emirates Team New Zealand shore crew…more to come this week from the Defenders, for sure. (Magnus Wheatley)
On-Water Recon Report – Emirates Team New Zealand: The Emirates Team New Zealand LEQ12 rolled out of the shed at 10:50am to a warm and sunny day in Auckland city. The shore crew went through their normal rigging processes. However, at 11:10am an issue on the port foil was discovered by one of the Operations Managers.
A group of five then took a close look at the foil until a shore crew member came and (from what we could see) fill in and smooth out an imperfection in the foil.
This delayed the crane in time until the hull was finally lifted off its cradle at 11:22am. The team docked out at 12:04 and proceeded to be towed directly upwind to Mechanics Bay. At 12:17 the tow stopped, and the team hoisted the sails putting up a M2-3 and their J3.
The team started sailing on Starboard tack at 12:27pm. The wind built to 15-17 from 32degrees with small harbour chop. They then proceeded to do a long port tack. Their upwind sailing speed varied from 25 to 32 knots.
At 1239 they dropped off the foils at Browns Island after a bad tack.
At 1244 they were back sailing, it looked like they really struggled to take off on port tack (on the new starboard foil).
At 1247 the team tried to bear away on port. They looked to be out of control until they crashed down. The boat then lifted out of the water again as they put both boards down. The boat then began to do a ‘wheelie’ – skimming very loosely above the water on both foils with their bow high. The boat eventually came down and rounded up into the wind while at the same time heeling over a disconcerting amount.
The team experienced a control issue and made the decision to finish the sailing session after spending a few minutes debriefing with the chase boat. The jib came down at 12:55 shortly followed by the main. At 1304 the tow line was on and they headed back to base. The boat was lifted out of the water at 13:55.