by Josh Impey
Emirates Team NZ, test sailing the AC72 with a Southern Spars supplied wingsail
The massive 40m carbon fibre wing on the newly-launched Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ) AC72 catamaran is made up of components supplied by carbon fibre specialists Southern Spars for the incredible new class of America’s Cup yacht.
Southern Spars has been involved in producing much of the leading edge technology used in America’s Cup yachts since the company was formed in 1989, and as America’s Cup challengers prepare to compete in the 2013 Louis Vuitton Cup, Southern Spars is involved once again.
As Southern Spars’ director Mark Hauser notes, the 34th edition of the America’s Cup is very different to previous events.
'Conventional carbon masts and rigging supporting high-tech sails have been replaced by 40m wing sails for the 2013 AC72 class yachts,' says Hauser.
'Working with Emirates Team NZ designers, Southern Spars has manufactured 75 per cent of the wing sail components and around 35 per cent of the beam structures for the huge 72’ catamaran.'
ETNZ enlisted the assistance of another Auckland-based company, Cookson Boat Builders, to complete the catamaran.
Emirates Team NZ's managing director Grant Dalton said at the AC72 launch party on 21 July that he 'hopes the guys at Cookson’s and Southern Spars take the time to reflect on what an achievement they have made'.
The yacht now named New Zealand has completed its maiden sail without an issue.
Hauser says: 'I was lucky enough to be out on the ETNZ tender during the AC72’s first sail. Although the weather didn’t play ball, it was extremely impressive to see the massive structure in action. It truly is a great testament to the quality of work produced by our team at Southern Spars Custom Projects in New Zealand and it is a very rewarding project to be involved with.'
ETNZ tactician Ray Davies sums up the first sail: 'It was a bit of a relief to get out there and fly a hull on the first day. We were doing 20 knots in 10 knots of breeze.'
'With an extremely skilled production and manufacturing team, Southern Spars has successfully adapted to designing and manufacturing the new wing sails,' says Hauser. 'Southern Spars is currently well-advanced with the wing sail production and are in the final stages of completing work on Luna Rossa Challenges first AC72 wing. We have the capability to build multiple AC72 wings in our Auckland facility. The wing masts are designed specifically for ease of shipment and New Zealand has direct shipping links to San Francisco where the 2013 Louis Vuitton Cup and America’s Cup will be sailed.'
With both ETNZ and Luna Rossa Challenge running two-wing programmes, Southern Spars will also be involved in the production of each team’s second AC72.