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sail-world.com -- Gladwell's Line: Lean with Us?

Gladwell's Line: Lean with Us?    
Mon, 16 Sep 2013

Normally entering your own competition is frowned upon, if not illegal. Emirates Team NZ stepped over that line today, with their attempt to enter long-time sponsor, Toyota’s 'Lean on Us' contest.

The idea is that you take photos of yourself or friends in a variety of crazy leaning poses. And the best stunt wins.

For non-Kiwis here’s how the campaign blurb goes:

'Lean with us' is a play on the boat's ability to lean at an incredible angle before it foils at amazingly high speeds. The more Emirates Team New Zealand can foil, the faster the boat goes.

With many of the world’s top photographers having sparks flying out of their shutter buttons, today, Emirates Team NZ should not lack for entries into Toyota’s Americas’ Cup competition.

But most would have preferred that they stayed out of that contest

About half way up Leg 3 of Race 8 today, Emirates Team New Zealand tacked to leeward of Oracle Team USA. They did not have sufficient pressure in the hydraulic system, and the 14metre wide catamaran came close to capsizing as the wingsail failed to flip onto the new tack.

Many have had concerns about the viability of the AC72 catamaran for sailing at this level. Today underlined they are maybe too close to the edge.

Hydraulics are not new to sailing at this level, but most boats that do use them extensively are running small engines to provide the required hydraulic pressure. The AC72’s rely on grinders. It takes four grinders to produce the same horse power of a sewing machine – about 2hp – and that’s before the lactic acid kicks in.

So it is small wonder that there was a incident arising from a lack of pressure in the on-board systems.

The way it was explained at the media conference, a cam belt comes into play when the boat tack – cranking the 40metre high wingsail out of its old shape, and into the new, as the boat tacks.

Lack of pressure mean that the cam belt wouldn’t move quickly enough, and the wingsail retained its old shape triggering a capsize situation. Fortunately the grinders had the presence of mind to keep winding as the opposite hull towered above them – eventually getting enough pressure in to the system to grind the wingsail through to its new shape.

But the drama caused audible cries of 'Oh no' on the water, and Kiwi fans could only watch and hope for the miracle which happened, saving a catastrophe.

Most would have been quite happy to emerge from the race in second place, and with the wingsail intact.

Oracle Team USA emerged from the day in much better shape than most had expected. Rather than clocking up a couple more losses, they came out with a win, and took heart from an improved performance (by their accounting) against the New Zealanders.

Whether that is correct is another matter. The USA team lost both their starts against the Challengers – an area in which they had previously been dominant in the regatta.

They rounded the leeward Mark 2 behind NZL5 on both occasions, although they did make an impression on the Kiwis on the windward beat which has normally been their nemesis. New Zealand led at the time of their near capsize, in Race 8, and were also ahead when Race 9 was abandoned.

The ebb tide – allowing the US team to use the full width of the course, sailing to windward – may have given the Defenders the ability to avoid being herded by the Kiwis.

The big bonus for the Defender is that they have gained more time to work on their boat and speed, and the hope to be able to further close down the 6-2 deficit in on the water results.

For the NZers their focus will be on winning to more races on Sunday, and maybe completing the task early next week.

For the NZ fans, their hope will be for no more 'Lean on Me' moments.

by Richard Gladwell



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