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America's Cup- Confessions of a Wingsail Trimmer - Glenn Ashby

by ETNZBlog.com on 19 Nov 2012
The twist in the leech of the wingsail is very impressive, the giant sail appears to breathe as it works in the strong breeze - Emirates Team New Zealand AC72 testing on the Hauraki Gulf. Chris Cameron/ETNZ© http://www.chriscameron.co.nz

Emirates Team New Zealand wing trimmer Glenn Ashby recalls only one anxious moment while sailing the AC72.

It was the time a squall hit them on Auckland Harbour just as they were about to round North Head.

'We had been in squalls before but never when we either had to tack the boat or commit to bearing away. We were in close to 30 knots true wind speed.

'It’s the only time I remember when we thought ‘uh, uh got a bit on here’ but other than that life with the AC72 has been just fine.'

The strongest breeze they’ve had at the mast head is about 33 knots with a good 25 to 28 knots on the water at times. 'We have had 60 knots of apparent wind across the deck so there can be a lot of wind noise which affects communications. That’s a key area to get right.

'We are just going to keep getting faster and faster and faster. We’re pushing the limits structurally when sailing on the edge but we do have to be able to sail these boats in San Francisco conditions. Hopefully we’ve got a package that’s going to suit those conditions very well.

The team has pushed the boat in a seaway of just over a metre. 'It’s not overly comfortable but the boat’s fine – no issues at all.'

Glenn can see the day when the crew will have no worries about racing around a short and confined America’s Cup course.

'Early on we thought we would have plenty on getting the 72 round the track but after having sailed for 16 days we can see the boats will be very manageable..

'But I believe the racing will still be tough in big breeze – but there’s no doubt the boats will be very sailable and manageable in high wind speeds.'

Ashby described his typical sailing day: 'My role is to trim the wing to a set of pre determined targets while also using judgement to manipulate shapes to achieve the mode that the boat requires.


'It’s bit of a juggle between setting the wing up to match the parameters set by the designers with how the boat is being sailed at any given time.

'The 72 wings are a step up in design and flexibility compared to the AC45. For me it’s less of a physical role, compared with the 45, because the grinders do a lot of the work.

The aim is to learn every time we sail – new stuff about the wing and about the boat in general. There’s still a lot to learn but we’re more comfortable with the boat now.

'We want to keep learning and incorporate what we have learned into wing 2.'

Foiling with the wing does definitely change things. 'We’ve found we have to change the wing trim quite aggressively from when the hull’s in the water to when it’s foiling. It was a matter of trial and error until we got it right.

'Every time we go out we learn something new; the aero guys’ targets change and the trim changes. It’s great to be able to try different settings – a new game for everybody so it’s quite exciting.

'Crew work will continue to keep getting better and better but I think that even if we sailed every day between now and the America’s Cup we still wouldn’t be totally satisfied.'

website: www.etnzblog.com




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