Emirates Team New Zealand testing the AC72 on the Hauraki Gulf.
After a week in the shed for modifications, Emirates Team New Zealand’s AC72 is almost ready for another intensive round of tests and crew development.
With 16 of the 30 allowed AC72 sailing days used, the team now aims to make the most of the 14 days remaining. Skipper Dean Barker says there’s a lot to accomplish – and the 14 days will go very quickly
Starting next week, the team will be out on the Hauraki Gulf checking the modifications and changes made this week.
'We’re trying to improve and refine in a number of different areas. There’ll be some obvious visual changes – fairing on the aft beam for instance.
'We’ve sailed the boat for three months and now we’re seeing ways of modifying some of the systems. That’s just part of the process with any new boat. It’s important to learn what we can now and feed the refinements into the design and build of Boat 2.
Emirates Team NZ's AC72 would blitz the Coastal Classic record in the conditions forecast for the 2014 event.
'We still have a lot to learn about sailing this boat. We have countless drills and manoeuvres to work on and there’s always demand from the designers to need to understand more about performance at different settings.
'The test programme is a balancing act to achieve the goals of making the boat go faster and learning how to sail the boat better and improving the systems so that we can sail the boat better.'
There’s also the prospect of lining up against Luna Rossa’s AC72 which is in the early stages of sea trials. 'Hopefully when Luna Rossa has got through its initial trials we will get some race practice later in November which will be very beneficial for both teams.'
Reviewing the first 16 days of testing, Barker said: 'It feels like we’ve made some massive gains in understanding the boat and how it behaves – and the limitations.'
He asks, 'Are there enough days between now and the start of the Louis Vuitton Cup? Probably not, but we feel like we feel we’re developing well but it also feels like we’re just scratching the surface.'
He says testing with only one boat takes some getting used to: ‘There’s no better way to test and develop than to line up against another boat – as we have done in previous campaigns – and test changes and modifications to understand how we’re performing.
'Now the rules dictate one-boat testing. Data collection becomes much more important because it is our only yardstick to measure how we’re going.'