America's Cup- AC45 Pre-flight check and Launch
by Richard Gladwell on 15 Feb 2011
Getting a wingsailed AC45 loaded up and off the marina is not a simple task. The degree of difficulty is similar to undertaking the same task in an AC monohull with the sails up, rather than being towed out by a tender.
Cast-off - AC45 - 14 February 2011 © Richard Gladwell http://www.richardgladwell.com
For the AC45 the issue is complicated in Auckland by the fact that immediately after release the yacht must undertake a 180 degree turn against a backdrop of superyachts and a very solid looking wall on the other side of the marina. The maneuverability of the wingsail means this operation, while looking to be a heart stopper, is not too bad. As the AC45 exits pitlane, she has to do two 90 degree turns - again with little margin for error - but has the maneuverability of a Laser dinghy, there seem to be few problems.
Since the early days of the AC launch, the process seems to have been refined - doing the standard dinghy practice of keeping the yacht's head to wind - and pulling astern to clear the marina - like pulling a cork from a champagne bottle.
Step 1: Nothing happens without the ubiquitous crane operator and his remote control
Step 2: Fitting the rudders into their hull and deck slots
Step 3: Removing the lifting strops
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Step 4: The incoming crew do some basic wingsail checks
Step 5: Getting some shots of the wingsail for the family album
Step 6: Pre-sail discussion
Step 7: Front sails come on board - some of the sails are already furled and in place on the trampoline
Step 8: Hanking on the jib - TNZ's tactician and skipper for the day, Ray Davies working the bow - whatever next?
Step 9: The stern towline is attached
Step 10: All tensioned up and ready to pop back into the marina
Step 11: The leeward lines are cast off while the bow remains hauled into the wind
Step 12: Moving astern at several knots - the idea being to quickly clear the marina
Step 13: Released and trying to get power into the wingsail to stop the momentum astern
Step 14: The speed comes on and the AC45 heads into the 180 degree turn to exit the marina
Step 15: Gybe completed and the AC45 lines up for the first of two 90 degree turns as she sails out of the Viaduct Harbour