America’s Cup: Monday Masterclass in chilly Auckland

America’s Cup: Monday Masterclass in chilly Auckland

America’s Cup: Monday Masterclass in chilly Auckland


10/06/2024 - 14:58

Winter’s grip is tightening down in Auckland with some stunning late afternoon low cloud accentuated by early darkness giving a dramatic backdrop to Emirates Team New Zealand’s last few days of training on the Hauraki Gulf. Pretty soon the team will be taking flight up to Barcelona and preparing for the fight of their lives to try and retain the Louis Vuitton 37th America’s Cup.

These are valuable sessions with the whole focus on pre-start preparation and, having been pushed hard in recent sessions, Peter Burling and Nathan Outteridge put on a top class performance, keeping cool and calm in a tight box with a committee boat bias. The ‘A’ Team pairing have been threatening to do this for some time and were imperious in the final approaches, happy to let the AC40 one-design lead back in and then pouncing in the final seconds. Almost a rope-a-dope strategy, Josh Junior and Sam Meech were fighting to stay on foils through the sharp manoeuvres as the pressure came on and more often than not, it was the Burling/Outteridge combination that just sneaked into the command position as the clock ticked down.

It was a slightly later than planned session on Monday with the LEQ12 having what looked like some hydraulic issues that required a couple of technicians from the shore team to RIB out and effect repairs but once done, the sailing team were confident enough to push to the max. Dock-in was at 4.30pm with the light fading but plenty of take-aways as the Defenders ramp up training before Barcelona.

Bronze medallist from the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in the Laser class Sam Meech, who will be a cyclor on the AC75 but who has been a very effective helmsman and trainer to the Youth & Women team in the AC40 gave his assessment of the day saying: “It was awesome, just pre-starts again. We had a bit of a delay at the start of the day so we chucked the Youth and Women back on and they got an epic session you know they're ripping around there doing all sorts of pre-starts and manoeuvres, I mean they've come so far in such a short time so you know split focus between them and then getting some racing for ourselves...They have stepped up so much, a couple of weeks ago they were there just learning but yeah now they're able to reach around and do all sorts of manoeuvres in the pre-start so it's pretty cool to see how far they've come, and you know I think the quality of this event for the Youth and Women it's going to be right up there you know because they’re sailing the boats so well now.”

Looking forward to Barcelona, Sam added: “Can't wait I'm getting pretty envious watching the other teams sailing around on the racecourse and I mean it's starting to get pretty cold here so we're looking forward to getting up and getting into it...everyone is headed up over the next few weeks and yeah I think we should be sailing pretty soon up there.”

Ever enthusiastic, Sam reflected on this training block saying: “I've been loving it, the AC40s are so cool and yeah I'll take any chance I can get to go sailing out there but yeah be cool to get back in the big boat and it'll be good to get started lining up with the others out there, it will be pretty special.”

Emirates Team New Zealand have another two days of training blocked out in the recon schedule this week and will take every second on the water that they can. Impressive sailing from a team that look very in control of things at the moment. (Magnus Wheatley) 

On-Water Recon Report – Emirates Team New Zealand: Heading out on the water into a grey and rainy winter’s day here in Auckland, the team towed out just west of Browns Island to meet the AC40 OD, which had been training with the Women's and Youth AC teams earlier this morning.

During the rigging process, the LEQ12 spent longer than normal hoisting the sails; however, they eventually got them up and appeared to be in normal condition. Unfortunately, the team didn’t get into sailing right away, as they encountered some onboard issues. A chase boat headed to the dock and returned with two members of the shore crew, along with what looked like hydraulic repair equipment. After roughly 25 minutes, the team resolved the issues and finally set sail about an hour after initially hoisting the sails.

Once on the water, both teams ran through a very brief warm-up and immediately dived into some starts. During the first two starts, the importance of keeping the boat foiling became evident. Underpowered on the J3 sails in a softening breeze, the teams occasionally struggled to maintain foiling. Interestingly, it seemed that the AC40 OD team prioritized staying in a controlling position rather than emphasizing foiling, which eventually led to their disadvantage.

As the wind diminished, the teams switched to bigger jibs: J1 for the AC40 OD and J2 for LEQ12. Engaging in more pre-starts, we witnessed close racing and solid starting. Today, the team set a slight boat bias in the start line.

Despite the hydraulic issues causing delays and the fading winter light, the teams decided to head in, calling it a day.

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