AC45 on the Hauraki Gulf on Day 2 of sea trialling
Sail-World was very privileged to get a look at the new AC45 sailing on the Waitemata Harbour and Hauraki Gulf, in conditions that were testing - a 20kts SW breeze, gusting to 26kts.
It was very hard, or impossible to find fault with the AC45, which turned in a remarkable performance by any standard and particularly for a multihull.
She exhibited excellent speed up and downwind - hitting 13-16kts upwind and 27-30kts downwind.
The sailing angles were very good - comparable with a keelboat, maybe not up at the angles of an AC Version 5 - noted for their closewindedness.
AC45 cruises up the Waitemata Harbour after Day 2 on the water
Handling was an absolute dream - even some quite radical maneuvers such a several 'S' bend bearaways at speed from an on the wind course, there was no tendency to bury a bow, and she stayed almost level throughout.
Tacking was unbelievable - far quicker than a monohull - even an AC class yacht - and more akin to a very well sailed foiling moth - which does not put her hull in the water during a tack. The AC45 put both hulls in the water for maybe a second as she went through the eye of the wind, and then she was back flying a hull again on the new tack.
Gybing was slightly less radical, but still well above the standard of a monohull - giving the impression that matchracing will be very possible in these boats - if the AC72 scales up from the AC45.
AC45 at close to 30kts on the Hauraki Gulf today
(The video's below are not high quality - being shot from an iPhone4 in a chase boat doing around 30 kts downwind and 16kts upwind - so there is a bit of camera shake. The first is of a two minute speed burst in which the AC45 was moving at 25-30kts. The points to note are the stability of flight, the leeward bow not diving - especially cutting through a powerboat wake at 25kts plus, and the speed of the boats following. In the second, sailing upwind the stability of flight is probably the key point.)
Leaving the dock was a little tricky in the conditions, and you couldn't have got a more difficult place in the wind conditions. A bearaway off the dock, two gybes and she was out in the harbour - all alone and without assistance. Returning was easy with a chase boat strapped alongside.
The dropping in and out of the water was not much of a problem due to a clever system used to lift the boats, the main trick being to keep the boat head to wind while the rudders were fitted and then squeezing out of the confines of the marina berth.
We'll have a full review, more pictures, comments from Murray Jones and video later tonight. (Excuse the quality of the video - shot from a chase boat using an iPhone4 at 30kts - however if you look closely you will see that the AC45 has few vices, including cutting through a powerboat wake at close to 30kts).
AC45 buries a bow today in the Hauraki Gulf
The AC45 prototype smokes up the Waitemata sailing at over 15kts in a 20kt breeze.
AC45 lifts off on the Hauraki Gulf today