Please select your home edition
Edition
Southern Spars

America's Cup- Confessions of a Wingman

by www.ENTZBlog.com on 16 Mar 2013
Glenn Ashby (white sunglasses) trimming the wingsail aboard NZL5 Chris Cameron/ETNZ© http://www.chriscameron.co.nz

Glenn Ashby describes his job as wing trimmer on Emirates Team NZ's AC72 as a bit like driving a truck.

The multiple A-Cat world champion, Olympic Silver medalist, and former Tornado cat world champion, is talking a really big truck with a 32-speed gearbox as it traveling up and down a series of hills and turns.

The driver, he says, must always think ahead, two or three moves ahead. And that’s what he does on board the AC72.

Glenn’s changing gears (adjusting the wing trim) almost constantly. Either driving a truck and trimming the wingsheet, or with the hydraulics, so there’s never a time when he’s not thinking, looking for the breeze ahead and changes in wind patterns – thinking about the next gear change to achieve best performance.

The wing is set up differently for different modes – upwind a low fast mode or high, slower mode for instance. Racing downwind, the wing set up has a huge influence on the boat’s performance and must be used accurately with the front sails, making for dozens of small adjustments throughout the leg.

'Anticipating the next gear change and executing it well, is where big gains can be made over your opponent,' says the former Australian sailmaker.

'Dean Barker, James Dagg, Ray Davies and I work closely on boat speed – effectively managing the speed and angle of the boat. It’s a team effort for best round-the-track speed and we all need to be on the same page.'

'It’s like sailing a double-handed dinghy in a way – the forward hand controls the mainsheet and the helm steers and they work together to extract maximum speed. It’s a bit like that on the AC72, but with a lot more buttons and strings to play with.

'To be effective we have to have good communication so we each know instinctively what the other is thinking. That’s one of the reasons time on the water is extremely valuable.'

Glenn recalls the first time they got up on the foils downwind. 'I’ll never forget looking through the tramp at the daggerboard going through the water – and knowing it was supporting the entire boat and the crew at close to 40 knots.

'It had been something that we had been working on for a very long time and to see it at AC72 scale was pretty awesome and a great feeling.'

'Part of me was saying ‘that’s not right’ and the other part was saying ‘this is exactly how it’s supposed to be. By getting rid of a lot of the drag the hulls are effectively just going along for the ride and something to sit on!.'

He admits to having more than a passing thought then about 'knowing if the foil goes bang or we have a hydraulic failure it would be very easy to capsize the boat.'

He says the team is pushing boundaries of foil and hull technologies to places where they have 'never been pushed before. It took a massive effort by a lot of people to get the boat up and foiling stably – a massive full team effort.'

'Now as a sailing team, we must continue to learn how to sail the boat to its full potential and keep pushing ourselves and the boundaries to the limits. A lot of the time we’re pushing into the unknown, but that’s what makes what we are doing so special. Hopefully the path we have chosen is the correct one.'

Bakewell-White Yacht DesignKilwell - 3Southern Spars - 100

Related Articles

America's Cup - Changes proposed to control future Cup options
Changes are being mooted to put the America's Cup on a longer-term footing according to the Daily Telegraph (UK) News that changes are being mooted to put the America's Cup on a longer-term footing is being floated in the Daily Telegraph (UK) by the British Challenger, Land Rover BAR. According to the Telegraph, some of the teams in the 2017 America's Cup are keen to lock-in parameters which would bind successive holders of the a style and frequency for the next America's Cup Match.
Posted on 8 Jun
America's Cup - Oracle Racing win in Court but with collateral damage
Oracle Racing have had another claim against them by a former crew member dismissed. Oracle Racing have had another claim against them by a former crew member dismissed. Mitchell focussed largely on the circumstances of the matter and introduced into the public arena some interesting documents to support his claims.
Posted on 23 Apr
Terrific battle in Oyster Regatta Antigua finale
On the final day, two of the three Classes were so close that the winners were decided on the last race. On the final day, two of the three Classes were so close that the winners were decided on the last race. Spectacular sailing conditions prevailed with a brisk 20 knots of wind from the south east. Oyster yachts are built to sail the oceans and revelled in the conditions.
Posted on 12 Apr
America's Cup - Emirates Team NZ welcome Optimist Nationals fleet
ETNZ sailing team popped down to the Kohimarama Yacht Club to give to the Toyota NZ Optimist Nationals fleet a hand Emirates Team New Zealand sailing team popped down to the Kohimarama Yacht Club to give to the Toyota NZ Optimist Nationals fleet a hand at the end of the regatta. The Team welcomed the 258 young Opti sailors back after the finish of the Nationals.
Posted on 1 Apr
34th America's Cup - Oracle pumping claims are flawed - Update
Claims that Oracle Team USA broke the manual propulsion rules in the 34th America's Cup are seriously flawed Claims by an American journalist, Bruce Knecht that Oracle Team USA broke the manual propulsion rules in the 2013 America's Cup are seriously flawed. The allegations received considerable airplay in New Zealand on Friday and over the weekend.
Posted on 6 Mar
America's Cup - Emirates Team NZ remain on top of LVACWS leaderboard
Emirates Team New Zealand have maintained their lead on top of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Emirates Team New Zealand have maintained their lead on top of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series after an exhaustive two days of close light air racing in Muscat, Oman. Emirates Team New Zealand and Ben Ainslie Racing were the only teams to win two races each out of the six after Glenn Ashby and crew won the first race of the day again.
Posted on 28 Feb
America's Cup - Another win for Oracle Team USA in California Courts
America's Cup Defender, Oracle Team USA has been successful in its legal effort to swat away another complaint America's Cup Defender, Oracle Team USA has been successful in its legal effort to swat away a complaint brought by former Oracle Team USA crew member, Matthew Mitchell. Mitchell's complaint against his former team was dismissed by a San Francisco Court on Wednesday. The amount of damage/injury claimed was stated as $400,000.
Posted on 12 Feb
America's Cup - No action against Kiwi sailor, but rule changes made
The International Sailing Federation has changed the process for Rule 69 Hearings in line with CAS recommendations One of the Oracle Team USA crew members found by the International Jury to have been involved in boat tampering activities with the America's Cup World Series regattas ahead of the 34th America's Cup has not been further penalised by the International Sailing Federation.
Posted on 19 Nov 2015
America's Cup - ISAF and Cup Jury summonsed by California Court
Five members of the AC34 Int Jury and the Int Sailing Federation have been summonsed by a San Francisco Court The International Sailing Federation, the controlling body for world sailing, and the five individuals who made up the International Jury for the 34th America's Cup have been summonsed by a San Francisco Court, to answer a lawsuit.
Posted on 9 Sep 2015
Dean Barker's Blog - Back into the racing
Five times America's Cup helmsman Dean Barker gives his view on his split with Team New Zealand and life since Writing on his blog at Kiwi Yachting Consultants' websites, of which he is a substantial shareholder and director, five times America's Cup helmsman Dean Barker gives his view on life since Team NZ. This is my first blog for quite some time. In fact since September last year when I was still a part of Team NZ racing in Istanbul for the Extreme Sailing Series.
Posted on 20 Apr 2015