Wednesday, April 24, 2024
HomeRegattaAmerica's CupEmirates Team New Zealand Takes on Gusty Winds in Hauraki Gulf

Emirates Team New Zealand Takes on Gusty Winds in Hauraki Gulf

It has been the wind that has kept Emirates Team New Zealand ashore for the first part of this week in Auckland but today, Wednesday, the team put in an impressive, high-action shift out on the Hauraki Gulf in a solid but gusty 12-18 knots and relatively flat water – perfect for piling the pressure onto the foils and testing technique.

Sam Thom / America’s Cup

More shadow-boxing than anything in reality, the Kiwis got their data through long straight-line runs but then went into an entertaining period where, at top speeds, they were feinting and luffing, using every ounce of technique to mimic race-style situations.

Sam Thom / America’s Cup

Foiling match-racing, as we’ve seen when other teams go two-boating, is a lot about trying to get the other boat off foil and also the lead back into the line is all about killing speed at crucial moments and then building into a perfect time-on-distance approach. What Pete Burling and Nathan Outteridge looked to be doing, perhaps battling an onboard simulation, was exactly that going for aggressive bear-aways almost ‘hunting’ and then shooting up into a stall, building speed and then going again. In breeze, it’s a tough ask but boy did the team look good today.

Sam Thom / America’s Cup

And interestingly, on one caught-on-camera moment we might just have seen conclusive proof of a connection between mainsail and jib trim which has proven to be almost impossible to see in standard flight. As the LEQ moded AC40 hit a big wind gust, riding a low height, suddenly both main and jib eased in remarkable unison. Now that could quite easily be two top trimmers, Blair Tuke and Andy Maloney -arguably the best in the world – just co-ordinating magnificently but the trim back on suggested something different. Whatever, it was effective, and the pulse was well ridden.

Sam Thom / America’s Cup

A great couple of hours on the water for the Kiwis and after sailing, Performance Engineer and Analyst Elise Beavis spoke about the data they’re collecting on these valuable days and how they’re analysing performance: “We’ve got two different foils on each side so anything we notice sort of side to side between them, cavitation speeds, how much the boat speed drops through a manoeuvre and how quickly it accelerates after it, and I guess in terms of coming up with race foils and stuff it’s a whole lot of trade-offs between performance across the wind range then within wind speeds you’ve got that range of boatspeed from bottom speeds out of tacks through to top speeds and bear-away so I guess that’s what makes the design challenging for coming out with the race foils and why all the teams made these different test foils to sort of you know validate our tools which say how well foils will perform in different conditions and then check that that lines up.”

Talking about the aggressive tactical work they did today in imaginary pre-start boxes, Elise added: “Yeah so I guess that recently we’ve been doing some longer straight lines and stuff but getting to a pre-start is also part of the race so just trying out small pre-start type manoeuvres today and checking that everything’s all good.”

Sam Thom / America’s Cup

As with all teams at this stage of the Cup cycle, everyone is eagerly waiting to see what not only their own boat looks like in the flesh and fully decaled up but also what everyone else has been up to. Emirates Team New Zealand are no different in that respect with Elsie saying: “I haven’t personally seen the new boat in the flesh, been pretty busy here and I haven’t had a chance to get up to the yard, but seen pictures and stuff and it’s yeah really exciting and really looking forward to our launch and getting out on it and then also looking forward to seeing what the other teams have come up with. It sounds like quite a lot of us are launching around a similar time, so it’s going to be really exciting seeing the hulls, the foils, sails and what everyone has done.”

The forecast for Auckland over the coming days looks like more of the same so the foil grind will go on this week. (Magnus Wheatley)

On-Water Recon Report – Emirates Team New Zealand: Day 69 of ETNZ sailing LEQ12. The team rolled into a rig-up and boat splash at around 10:15am. Showing no visual changes to the foils or boat, the team went into setting up this morning, running through some at-dock checks over the foil control and rig control systems.

Leaving the dock just after 11:00 am, the team towed towards Mechanics Bay where they proceeded to hoist M2 and J3 sails, which was an obvious choice for the wind strength of the current SW wind. Popping onto the foils, the team sailed downwind out of the harbour towards Rangitoto Lighthouse.

With flat water and 15-18 knots, the Recon Unit had trouble at times keeping up with the LEQ12. The team gybed just north of Rangitoto Lighthouse and headed downwind some more. Gybing back and rounding up, the team started putting the boat through some very rapid and tight manoeuvres.

Completing a few quick laps between Takapuna Beach and the outer channel, Recon observed the team practising many tight round-ups and bear-aways. In what seemed and was later confirmed to be pre-start manoeuvre practice. Some of the round-ups completed resulting in touch-downs and slowing the boat right down, then without stopping, rebuilding speed and popping back on the foils.

Now heading back into the harbour, the team sailed downwind towards the Motuihe Channel, completing some nice flatwater gybes. Sailing a few laps back and forth, completing again some fast combination manoeuvres, they had good control over the boat in the flat water and upper wind range, seeming to be working on the limit of single-board round-ups.

Sailing upwind back towards Mechanics Bay, the team came to a controlled stop and started to drop the sails, calling it time on today’s session.

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