Monday, May 13, 2024
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Emirates Team New Zealand First to Navigate the New AC75

With the weather clearing in Auckland, Emirates Team New Zealand took advantage of a window to quietly launch the raceboat that will defend the Louis Vuitton 37th America’s Cup in Barcelona in October. The hopes of this sailing-mad nation rest on a progressive and heavily refined design, a (big) step-on from their America’s Cup winning boat ‘Te Rehutai’ of AC36. The full naming ceremony and blessing is not scheduled until later this month, but time is a valuable currency in this competition and the clock is ticking.

Hamish Hooper / Emirates Team New Zealand

The shore crew worked quickly to step the mast – noticeably more aft of the foil arms than on the previous generation and the new boat was towed out to begin its early commissioning on a residual and gradually lessening breeze up the Hauraki Gulf.

What we see from the initial underbelly shots is a slenderer bustle/skeg running all the way aft having begun at a micro-chine on the bow. A more pinched and acute stern houses a neatly hung rudder off the back of the skinny bustle taper whilst at the foil arm junction there is a neat volume-reducing indent that announces the ‘crew-area’ of the hull that is exquisitely shaped with a slight concave.

Hamish Hooper / Emirates Team New Zealand

As we saw on the Alinghi Red Bull Racing reveal, the hull is aggressively flared off the bustle to produce an almost flat flaring that runs aft whilst the crew pod area tapers smoothly as opposed to the harsh cut-out that was on display by the Swiss. The foil arms and indeed the foils themselves looked to be either legacy or very much base models and it’s totally understandable that the teams won’t be revealing anywhere close to final foil iterations until much closer to the competition.

Hamish Hooper / Emirates Team New Zealand

The bow and foredeck profile is conservative, eschewing the ‘Venturi’ bumps or tunnel profile that we saw on the Swiss reveal, and expect elsewhere, although the hull/deck join is certainly a nod to aero simulation and modelling. The bow itself is sharp and thin, coming to the minimum volume quickly after a fine entry – certainly a consideration for the expected waveforms in Barcelona – and from bow-on the hull flairing is very evident. Up forward, just ahead of the trim station, the jib tracks and the 3D trim mechanism are sunk into small pods either side. From dead astern, the form is virtually elliptical, tapering smoothly to the transom. What it screams all over is ‘efficiency’ and there looks to be barely a millimetre that hasn’t been pored over in the design office.

Hamish Hooper / Emirates Team New Zealand

Out on the water during the tow test, the crew configuration could be seen, and Emirates Team New Zealand will be running with four crew in each pod with the cyclors aft, the helm position immediately after the cyclors and the trimmer in the forward position – a standard set-up that they used on Te Rehutai. The deck moulding is super clean and flares up to mould into the crew pods, creating a very clean flowing lower section where the aero is most disturbed. 

Sam Thom / America’s Cup

Not only did Emirates Team New Zealand launch, step the mast and tow-test but the sailors also managed to launch sails and be the first boat of the new AC75 cycle to actually sail – big milestone for the 37th Louis Vuitton America’s Cup. And it was here where we saw some great sail detailing, with the neatest clew area yet seen on an AC75, with the fairing extending low-down like an anvil stretching to the mainsheet traveller – quite where the controls are housed (presumably within the double-skin mainsail) is what the recon will reveal soon. Great detailing that we will see a lot more of in the coming weeks. On this maiden sail, the mode was low and fast with the end-plating effect very much in evidence as Blair Tuke and Andy Maloney rode that ride-height super-close to the water’s surface.

Hamish Hooper / Emirates Team New Zealand

It was a long day on the water with the new boat returning to base in the dark after a small issue with lowering the port skin after the halyard lock stuck, but Peter Burling, skipper for Emirates Team New Zealand seemed stoked with the new boat saying: “Awesome day to get the raceboat out of the shed, get everything calibrated, get through all our checks and then get a short sail in at the end of the day just before we lost the light. It was absolutely amazing and incredible effort by everyone involved in the team to get that done…it was pretty incredible to be able to sheet on and get a few foiling tacks straight off the  bat but the boat felt really good, it felt quite like we predicted it to which was nice as well, and now we’re looking forward to going back and having a good look at the data and trying to make good plan going forward.”

Talking about the overall design, Pete added: “We’ve definitely been pretty aggressive with the design, so we’re really happy with what we’ve produced. It’s been really cool to see Alinghi (Red Bull Racing) as well and I think we’ll see a few more boats very soon. This is the most exciting time when you get to see what everyone’s been up to for the last two years, so to wheel it out of the shed and finally have it out in the open and be testing and developing on it was incredible.”

Sam Thom / America’s Cup

This was a statement day for the Defenders of the Louis Vuitton 37th America’s Cup. With the Swiss boat revealed and Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli launching on Saturday, Emirates Team New Zealand beat them all to the punch by actually getting sailing. Great team effort by the ruthlessly efficient Kiwis. The new era of the America’s Cup has well and truly begun. (Magnus Wheatley)

On-Water Recon Report – Emirates Team New Zealand: Today Emirates Team New Zealand launched their America’s Cup race boat, Boat 3 AC75. After a long morning of waiting for the weather to clear up enough, the shed doors opened, and the boat rolled out into the sunshine for the first time. Sporting the same paint job as ‘Te Rehutai’ did for testing early in this cycle, you could have mistaken B3 for Te Rehutai, however changes were very noticeable.

The team rolled the boat out of the shed at 12:22 into the forecourt in front of the base, then proceeded to start the necessary calibrations required. As they completed a 360° spin with the boat for compass calibrations, recon got its first good look at the boat from all angles and while it has roots in the design of ‘Te Rehutai’, there have been significant design changes.

The shore crew worked quickly and effectively to step the rig, with all systems seeming to run smoothly during the stepping process. The base was alive with everyone coming down to watch the boat splash for the first time. A host of people quickly sprang into action on the boat once it was secured on the dock, starting a range of system checks and calibrations. We saw for the first time, the ‘cyclors’ joining the sailing crew, running through essential dock checks. Seen for the first time now was the configuration of the sailors onboard the yacht. With two cyclor pods aft of the helm and trimmer on each side of the yacht. Spending roughly an hour running over on the dock, the team departed to start some tow testing down the harbour. Docking out at 15:40.

In a moderating westerly breeze, the team completed a long foil tow heading east down the harbour and towards the ‘Back Paddock’, towing at times with speeds in the high 30’s and low 40’s. Dropping off the tow, the boat rounded up, and the chase boat came alongside to start working on hoisting sails for the first time. Spending roughly one hour working on hoisting both mainsails and a J4, the shore crew returned to the chase boat, and the sailing team started getting the boat sailing upwind.

With a very controlled speed build and take-off, the new boat was officially flying under sail and started accelerating upwind. Looking in control, the team went into a few tacks, completing them fully foiling. Being late in the day, and quickly running out of light, the team stopped sailing after just 10 minutes and began getting the sails down. This ended with a slight delay as they had trouble getting the port mainsail off the lock and had a man up the rig working on it for quite some time, eventually getting it sorted; the team towed back towards the base in the dimming evening light and hit the dock just after sunset at 18:20.

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