Friday, June 21, 2024
HomeRegattaAmerica's CupChallenging Breezes on Hauraki Gulf Test Emirates Team New Zealand’s Preparations

Challenging Breezes on Hauraki Gulf Test Emirates Team New Zealand’s Preparations

Winter hasn’t quite clenched her fist on Auckland just yet with a glorious day presenting itself on a billiard-table flat Hauraki Gulf and gentle south-westerly breezes for another two-boat race practice session for Emirates Team New Zealand’s senior squad and another opportunity for the Women & Youth teams to get out. Unfortunately for the Women’s team, who docked-out early, the wind was a cruel mistress and even when joined by the LEQ12 in the afternoon, it was a struggle to find any kind of consistent breeze.

Sam Thom / America’s Cup

However, the chase boat teams did their best and towed from Browns Island to off the picturesque Rangitoto Island, sniffing the zephyrs and using every ounce of local knowledge to get a session underway. Eventually they were rewarded with a 5-9 knot breeze that made life tricky for both teams as Josh Junior, Sam Meech, Gemma Jones and Marcus Hansen jumped onto the one-design AC40 to continue their enthralling battle with Pete Burling, Nathan Outteridge, Blair Tuke and Andy Maloney.

Sam Thom / America’s Cup

With a J1 set on the one-design and a J2 set on the LEQ12 there was certainly some equalisation in the pre-starts that were far less combative than we see when the breeze is up. The key was just staying on the foils and going from puff to puff with wide disparities in the starting-box often seeing the boats completely disengaged and effectively sailing their own races. Occasional engagement on the lead-backs occurred but predominantly it was about time-on-distance and not doing too many manoeuvres – and certainly no tight turns as a fall off the foils effectively brought matters to a conclusion.

Sam Thom / America’s Cup

Good light weather training day for the team and afterwards Leo Takahashi, one of New Zealand’s brightest up and coming youth sailors spoke to the recon team about his experience with the AC40 and the upcoming competition: “They’re a very cool boat there’s lots to it and yeah really enjoying the learning process, lots of time in the SIM and then putting it out on the water is pretty cool…The Sim’s great and I’m really enjoying playing the game as well, it’s a cool tool to learn all the buttons and then actually being able to put it on the water is a pretty cool thing to be able to do and then I enjoy the gaming and the racing side of things as well so pretty good practice.”

Sam Thom / America’s Cup

Extracting as much experience as he and the rest of the Youth and Women teams can, Leo spoke about the incredible opportunity, saying: “We’re all here spending as much time as we can at the base and then be out on the water and watching the other teams sail as well. Every time you’re on the chase boat you’re actually just taking in as much as you can, listening to the comms and then even just being able to watch the boats go around and do as much racing as we can, we’re learning from that and taking notes and as much as we can and put it into our own practice.”

Sam Thom / America’s Cup

The days are ticking down to the start of all the competitions of the Louis Vuitton 37th America’s Cup and Emirates Team New Zealand are certainly eyeing more than just one (major) trophy this summer – the Unicredit Youth America’s Cup and the inaugural Puig Women’s America’s Cup are very much in focus too. A clean sweep? That’s a tough call. (Magnus Wheatley)

On-Water Recon Report – Emirates Team New Zealand: Clear skies started today’s sailing session with Emirates Team New Zealand. Heading out early this morning was the Women’s team so they could get some more time in the boat before being joined later in the day for two-boat practice racing.

After a short-lived sailing session in a very light south-westerly, the women’s team spent the remaining time waiting for wind. Joined by the LEQ12 and getting the crew of Josh Junior, Sam Meech, Marcus Hansen and Gemma Jones onboard the AC40 OD they attempted to get some racing underway down the harbour near Browns Island however both teams struggled to keep foiling as the breeze was below 5 knots and dropping.

Sam Thom / America’s Cup

Towing out towards Rangitoto Lighthouse the teams managed to find enough wind to get some sailing in and set a course for some starts. The aim of the game was now to keep the boat foiling. Both teams requiring assistance to get foiling from the chase boats but did manage to get starts away. Watching the starts today was a vast difference from previous days with teams choosing to disengage with each other in favour of keeping the boat foiling. Working hard on minimising manoeuvres during the pre-starts. At times even sailing to other sides of the starting box from each other. Impressive that the teams were able to keep the boats foiling throughout manoeuvres as at times the breeze was below 6 knots.

In these very downrange conditions, the J1 of AC40 OD was an advantage through the manoeuvres however the LEQ12 still held a higher speed average.

With the wind delay the teams managed just under an hour of starting practice before calling it a day and heading for the dock.

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