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Racing in the AC45F (One Design) - Emirates Team New Zealand © Hamish Hooper/Emirates Team NZ http://www.etnzblog.com
Racing in the AC45F (One Design) - Emirates Team New Zealand © Hamish Hooper/Emirates Team NZ http://www.etnzblog.com

America’s Cup

Emirates Team New Zealand skipper, Glenn Ashby has confirmed that Emirates Team New Zealand will launch their AC50, in Auckland and will do a substantial build up on the Waitemata harbour before shipping to Bermuda.

His comment confirms that Emirates Team NZ will use their 28-day Blackout, or no sail, period to ship to Bermuda, probably leaving sometime in March and arriving a couple of months before the start of the Qualifiers on May 27, 2017. That will give Emirates Team NZ the bulk of the Kiwi summer to work up their Race Yacht.

Groupama Team France is expected to adopt the same strategy with their Blackout period. The other teams are all in Bermuda and will have to take a 28 Blackout probably starting on January 9. The Blackout period was agreed amongst the six teams contesting the 35th America’s Cup in a deal ahead of a ruling by the America’s Cup Arbitration Panel over the remedies to be applied after the Panel found against Cup organisers over the abrupt withdrawal of the Qualifier Series from Auckland.

The Qualifier Series was pulled on April 1, 2015, and the Arbitration Panel hearing did not take place until July 2016. The Decision did not determine Remedies which will be determined in a further Hearing, yet to be held. The AC50’s to be used in the America’s Cup were allowed to be launched from December 27, 2016, and the deal on the sailing Blackout was hammered out just 11 days previously on December 16, 2016.

Giles Scott - Land Rover BAR's AC50 arrives in Bermuda Hamish Hooper/Emirates Team NZ http://www.etnzblog.com

Giles Scott – Land Rover BAR’s AC50 arrives in Bermuda Hamish Hooper/Emirates Team NZ http://www.etnzblog.com

It means that two of the teams will use the Blackout to Transition to Bermuda, the other four will not launch their Race Yachts and are expected to start their Blackout near immediately. While the Blackout is running, they cannot work on their Race Yacht if it has been launched. If a team has not launched their AC50 then they can continue to work on their Race Yacht and can sail their AC45-S test platforms – most of which are running AC50 gear anyway.

Speaking on Newstalk ZB, Ashby said the Emirates Team New Zealand AC50 had been assembled and was having hydraulics, daggerboard systems and electronics being installed at present.

‘We launched our second wingsail just before Christmas, and it’s now sitting on the shelf, ready to go in the Race Boat,’ he explained.

‘It’s all going well and we are in fantastic shape.’

‘We’re aiming for a launch towards the end of the month.’

The team is still waiting on the arrival of some additional components from New Zealand and internationally before the Race Yacht can be fully assembled.

It seems the AC50 will sail for several weeks in New Zealand.

‘We want to get the boat in the water and sailing as quickly as we can.’

‘Every day that we can spend on the water debugging and ticking things off before we head away is Gold.

‘Once we are happy with it we will pull the trigger and go into race mode, and start sailing mock race courses, practice courses and concentrating on the performance aspects all the way through.’

‘We’re really looking forward to the challenge, and as people will see on the harbour this boat will be a very impressive machine.’

Ashby claims the AC50’s will be 30% faster than the AC72’s used in the 2013 America’s Cup, but qualified that by saying that the top end speed of the AC50 would be faster than an AC72, but not by that percentage. The boats will be substantially faster in the mid-range in winds of 10-16kts, which are the conditions expected in Bermuda. Much of the performance gain is expected to come upwind with the advent of foiling tacks and the maintenance of a much higher upwind speed and quicker legs than was possible with the AC72’s which foiled only through a loophole in the class rules. The smaller AC50 has been designed as a foiling wingsailed multihull.

The manoeuvrability and upwind performance of these boats is incredible. These boats are at the cutting edge of not only hydrodynamic technology but also hydraulic and electronic technology. We’ve pushed to the limit in the quest for ultimate speed.

He refuted suggestions that Emirates Team New Zealand will arrive in New Zealand short of a gallop.

‘I would argue to the contrary. We will be the last team there, but the Great Sound in Bermuda is not a huge area to sail and test in, and we will have a better testing area in the Hauraki Gulf. We are very comfortable with our program, and will be coming in there hot at the end.’

Ashby also alluded to the fact that they didn’t want to arrive in Bermuda too early and showed their cards to the other teams – a mistake they made in the 2013 campaign when they showed off their foiling ability early leaving the other teams time to copy.

‘We’ll be there in plenty of time – but won’t be in Bermuda as long as the other teams.

Emirates Team NZ launch their only AC45S - Emirates Team New Zealand © Hamish Hooper/Emirates Team NZ http://www.etnzblog.com

Emirates Team NZ launch their only AC45S – Emirates Team New Zealand © Hamish Hooper/Emirates Team NZ http://www.etnzblog.com

Ashby would not comment on the Arbitration Panel Decision or even the Blackout period, which has been agreed between the teams and published as Protocol amendment, but without any comment from the Golden Gate Yacht Club, as regatta organisers as to why the Blackout period is necessary. ‘Unfortunately I can’t discuss that,’ was his only comment.

Team NZ’s late arrival in Bermuda means that there will not be a lot of time available to them if they have to make changes to the boat to play catchup with the other teams, and similarly, if Team NZ proves to have an edge in early test sailing (not that this is currently permitted in Bermuda).

‘There’s not a whole lot you can do with your equipment. Over the past two years the teams will have had to have done their homework well, and in Bermuda, it will be a matter of executing well, and being able to deliver the kind of performance necessary to bring the Cup home.’

‘We’ll have plenty of time to see she what our opposition has up their sleeve, and hopefully we won’t be giving anything away and will be in a position to do well.

by Richard Gladwell, Sail-World.com NZ

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