Monday, May 13, 2024
HomeRegattaAmerica's CupTaihoro's Departure Marks the Beginning of a Quest for Perfection

Taihoro’s Departure Marks the Beginning of a Quest for Perfection

After fourteen quite magnificently efficient days of commissioning, Taihoro begins her journey up to Barcelona to defend the Louis Vuitton 37th America’s Cup, leaving perhaps, to the casual spectator, more questions than answers with certainly a whole heap of performance improvements yet to be realised. This has been a valuable block of training for the Kiwis who know they have an immense platform to now work-up into a world-beating machine – and the Kiwis know it will be anything but easy.

Sam Thom / America’s Cup

Today in Auckland there was a bit of everything and just a perfect way to end the AC75 block. They’ll be back to AC40 race training soon enough as Taihoro gets loaded onto a ship and heads to the northern hemisphere but what we saw was plenty of straight-line sail evaluation mixed with high technique where once again, New Zealand look to be innovating and mastering. Leeward heel is the most prominent, followed by downrange roll-tacking and on both accounts Peter Burling and Nathan Outteridge are getting it nailed.

In the lighter airs at the beginning of the session, the roll tacks were in, heeling the boat to leeward just before the tack, dropping the new board smartly whilst getting the maximum out of the immersed foil. Trim was over-sheeted on the windward side into the tack, allowing the big power-on, traveller up, straight after. Cue high exit speeds and a perfect mode – sublime to watch. And in flight, in anything up to 12 knots of breeze, the Kiwis are really leaning into the immersed foil, heeling over with determination, and driving to those predicted target speeds – and this is with legacy, shorter span foils so plenty more to come when the race armoury is added.

Sam Thom / America’s Cup

As the breeze increased, the sheer power of ‘Taihoro’ gets unleashed with Blair Tuke and Andy Maloney relentlessly dialling her low with a wide cant, getting the bustle absolutely end-plating and then having that extraordinary balance that just keeps the bow a few inches clear and simply looks right. ‘Balance’ is something that everyone is seeking alongside consistency to keep the platform delivering the power that is inherent. In fourteen days, they’ve barely missed a beat and have pushed the bar to almost impossible heights for the Challengers who now have the window of freight shipping to try and close the gap.

Sam Thom / America’s Cup

Speaking afterwards, Nathan Outteridge summed up the day saying: “Awesome range of conditions we got out just before the westerly really filled in, so we had the bottom end right through to top in a space of a few hours this morning. It kind of wrapped up a really good block for us, got to test a lot of things then go through the packing the boat up and getting ready to send it away…Today was the last day, so it was great to go out with such a good sail back up the harbour and drop sails out front. It’s such an impressive boat to sail and when we got a nice windy flat water westerly day sailing up the harbour, we really enjoyed that, so it’s been an awesome block.”

Sam Thom / America’s Cup

Looking at the overall commissioning block, Nathan commented: “I don’t think it could have gone a whole lot better, we’ve had 14 days on the water in less than three weeks so pretty good ratio for commissioning a new boat…some really long days far out searching for waves and some shorter days where we clipped through things way quicker, so the team’s done a fantastic job over this last period to commission the boat, see the boat through the wind range, test the boat to its limits and it’s holding up really well, so the next phase is getting to Barcelona and then sailing it over there.”

Sam Thom / America’s Cup

Reflecting on just what has been achieved, and, more importantly what’s to come, Nathan added: “The performance numbers have been going really well…we’ve been doing a lot of straight line stuff so that’s a bit of validation of the numbers and checking that the boat’s on its performance predictions, also looking at a lot of sails at the moment because we got more sails to design for the future so you didn’t see too much around the track, it was more straight-line performance testing but everything went really well and we’re really looking forward to putting it into a smaller narrow course and really trying to spin it round a bit harder.”

Sam Thom / America’s Cup

So, the next time we’ll see the Defender of the Louis Vuitton 37th America’s Cup will be in Barcelona. The target is the beginning of July for her next sail and all eyes will be on the foil and rudder package, as yet unseen, and the projected sail modifications that they’ve worked so hard on in this block to ascertain. Hard to bet against the Kiwis but the Challengers know the level now. (Magnus Wheatley)

On-Water Recon Report – Emirates Team New Zealand: Day 14 of sailing Taihoro AC75, and the last day of sailing for the boat in New Zealand waters. Docking out at 9:00am after a now run-of-the-mill rigging process, the team towed out of the harbour and stopped off Narrow Neck Beach to hoist sails. Hoisting the M1 and J2 to start the day in a light westerly wind.

Getting started sailing at 09:35, the team attempted to pop without assistance, but this was unsuccessful, so they hooked up to Chase 1, and during a short spell got sailing and headed downwind out of the harbour, sailing out into the middle of the Gulf. During this sailing period, the team could be seen making some adjustments to a system at the base of the rig and spending time straight-line testing. A few manoeuvrers later and now heading back upwind, the team touched down exiting a tack and then came to a stop at 10:13. A quick break, and they were sailing again at 10:22 in a now building westerly wind.

Completing some longer windward-leeward laps off the Northern Bays and into the Gulf, the team was now sailing very fast in the up-range conditions. Seeming at times to be quite overpowered on the M1 and J2 combination. Recon observed the team sailing upwind with more leeward heel than normal. Stopping sailing at 10:41, the team changed to the M2 and J4, which seemed a more appropriate combination for the breeze conditions. Swapping some grinders during this stop. Getting sailing again, they completed two more fast windward-leeward laps with a range of manoeuvrers and some roundups with both boards down before sailing back into the harbour and all the way up and came to a stop off the base. Stopping sailing for the day at 11:30.

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