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The Kiwi's New Kids On The Block


  • The Kiwi's New Kids On The Block

    On a day where the AC40 showed its simply outrageous potential, the Emirates Team New Zealand two-boat training session ramped into gear with short course racing, plenty of pre-starts, and even an episode of out-running the weather – and a customary capsize to boot. Fabulous sailing in Auckland for the premiere finishing school for the next generation of Kiwi talent under the tutelage of some of the world’s finest foiling sailors.

    Sam Meech and Josh Junior, two absolute stone-cold world-class sailors that would make the ‘A’ team of just about any other Cup syndicate, led the charge in the AC40 in strict one-design mode with Youth & Women team members onboard, learning fast and putting the hours spent in the simulator into practice. With winds up-range once again at between 15-25 knots true, Ray Davies made the call to head down to the flatter waters of the area they call the ‘Back Paddock’ and immediately the two boats were lined up in a seemingly mis-match between the one-design AC40 (with the yellow-topped mainsail) and the tricked-up LEQ12.

    all images Sam Thom / America's Cup

    However, as the confidence grew in the AC40 OD team, the deltas closed, and the racing got tight. The teams both had to out-run a large squall filtering down onto them but once safely outrun (amazing!), the two boats returned to resume race practice. One of the hardest things to do is pass on a short course and on one notable pre-start win, the one-design got into the controlling position and covered like crazy, able to maintain the lead over the clearly higher and faster LEQ12 with the brilliance of Burling, Outteridge, Tuke and Maloney pushing hard at every opportunity. Interesting.

    After that confidence boost, the AC40 one-design bit and bit hard with a high ride-height exit out of a gybe on the downwind leg causing a nosedive and inevitable capsize. All very much part of the learning curve and the sublime Emirates Team New Zealand Chase Boat team were in quick and had the boat back on its foils in double quick time and back racing.

    A total of four hours on the water and potentially more to come over the weekend. Emirates Team New Zealand are a busy camp right now and its alive with the Youth & Women’s team members adding to the professionalism that the Defenders of the Louis Vuitton 37th America’s Cup engender.

    Speaking afterwards, Olympic Nacra 17 New Zealand representative Gemma Jones, whose surname registers with every Cup fan (Murray Jones is her father), spoke to the recon team and summed up the day saying: “It's really cool having two boats, we haven't really sailed by ourselves much in the AC40 but it’s really nice to have someone to line up against, we were sort of trying to beat the clouds coming in and trying to get away from it and with these boats go so fast that you're like go away from it and then you can still come back up when without it catching you up but yeah it was really good to do some starting practise and racing to kind of see and check-in how we're going.”

    Talking about the translation of simulator time to on-water practice, Gemma said:“The simulator’s great to sort of get familiar with the buttons and know where they are without looking so that was really key and probably saved us about ten days of sailing, but yeah there's nothing like the sensation of being on the boat and trying to piece it all together and then also with the pressure of another boat I mean in the sim you can just restart when things go bad but obviously you can’t here, you’re a bit more punished and you learn a lot more I'd say...We want to try to do as much as we can to get familiar and get us all hopefully on the boat so that it's not so fresh when we come to Barcelona.”

    Gemma wasn’t onboard the AC40 for the capsize but gave her commentary saying:“The good thing about these boats is they come up really quick. I think they just came out a little hot out of a gybe, but everyone was fine, and it came up and there wasn't any breakages so that was really good.”

    Another top day on the water for the Kiwis with plenty of take-aways and a real confidence booster for the sailors who will be looking to really take on the awesome challenges of the UniCredit Youth and Puig Women’s America’s Cup events in Barcelona this summer. (Magnus Wheatley)

    On-Water Recon Report – Emirates Team New Zealand: Day 73 for ETNZ sailing the LEQ12 was another day with some two-boat testing. Both LEQ12 and AC40 OD were out sailing for today's session. Showing no visible changes to the sailing vessel, LEQ12 and AC40 OD left the dock at 10:30 heading down the harbour towards North Head. Stopping the tow just north of Bean Rock lighthouse, both boats proceeded to hoist M2 mainsails and J3 Jibs, the expected choice for the building westerly wind.

    Starting sailing, the teams sailed together down the harbour heading around Browns Island and towards the ‘Back Paddock.’ While sailing downwind together, LEQ12 was showing a speed advantage compared with the OD 40, at times having to ‘reset’ into a racing position by completing some manoeuvres.

    Both boats rounded up just north of Pine Harbour and started tacking upwind, working on racing simulation line-ups. Essentially, the LEQ12 showed an advantage; however, as the crew of the AC40 OD gained some confidence, they started to close the speed gap. Today, the AC40 OD crew consisted of Josh Junior and Sam Meech at the helm, with Gemma Jones and Marcus Hansen in the trimming position.

    Chase 1 placed a top and bottom gate in the water, and the teams proceeded to start some race simulation laps, getting practice with mark roundings and lay lines, etc. Sailing another two laps around the course and then coming to a stop for a quick drinks break.

    Quickly getting back to sailing, the teams went straight into some pre-start and race practice. Watching the pre-start practice, the teams can be seen working on getting different styles of starts. With LEQ12 winning a wide right start off the line; however, with a large rain squall coming from the top gate, both boats bore away early and headed downwind to avoid it. LEQ12 looked noticeably more in control throughout manoeuvres. Once the rain squall had cleared past the course, the team sailed back upwind and completed some more starts and races.

    During one of the pre-starts, the AC40 OD won a boat start with LEQ12 following them off the line. During this race, the OD 40 managed to hold its advantage and was first to all the marks by a similar delta from the start. Recon observed OD 40 in a more controlling position during the racing and sailed to the shifts well to keep their lead despite the speed advantage of the LEQ 12.

    While sailing downwind during another race simulation, OD40 capsized out of a gybe. The cause looked to be getting too high on the foils during the manoeuvre. The team jumped to action and righted the sailing boat quickly and safely, and after a few checks over some systems, the boat continued sailing without any signs of concern.

    Sailing another two laps around the course, both boats came to a stop for some time and proceeded to put some of the technical support onboard to fix what Recon believes to be a sailor communication issue. With a possible fix made, the boats started sailing upwind together back towards the inner harbour and eventually dropped sailing in Mechanics Bay completing the session for the day.

    Recon interviewed Gemma Jones and discussed her time on board and her experience with sailing on the water compared with the simulator.
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