'It is fantastic!' This was Paul Cayard’s verdict after a four-hour sail on the AC45 catamaran in beautiful conditions on Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf today. Cayard and a crew from Artemis Racing put the cat through a thorough testing session.
Weekend sailors out on the water in force were thrilled to see the America’s Cup cat fly past – less than a week after it capsized in a freak wind gust in the Rangitoto Channel.
After the capsize, the damaged wing was taken to the Core Builders facility in Warkworth, north of Auckland, where a small team, including the America’s Cup Race Management (ACRM) team and members of the Artemis Racing crew, executed a flawless repair in just four days.
'We learned a lot in the process and were able to make some small modifications which we believe would reduce the damage if we have a similar incident again,' said Phil Jameson from Artemis Racing, who assisted in the repair of the boat’s wing sail.
Conditions on the Hauraki Gulf for the AC45’s return were excellent, with the breeze building from 12 knots to a solid 18 knots towards the end of the session.
Cayard qualified his comments by noting he was not a multihull sailor. 'I have not done much sailing on multihulls, apart from messing about on a Hobie,' he said.
'But this seems to me to be a great boat, very well designed. I was able to sail it for quite some time and it was very user-friendly.'
'One of the biggest challenges with cats is the danger of digging in the leeward bow, but we never had that issue at all. There was always good buoyancy in the bows. I think that when you consider this project went from zero to sailing in just over four months, it is a very impressive effort.'
Commenting on the cat’s tacking and acceleration, Cayard said he was impressed by how nimble it was. 'It is certainly no slower than any monohull through the tacks,' he commented.
For much of the long upwind sessions, the Artemis Racing team dropped the headsail and sailed under the wing alone. 'We found that it was actually faster upwind without the headsail,' Cayard noted, 'and we were probably able to point a bit higher as well.'
'This was a great session,' he added as he dashed for the airport to catch a flight back to the USA. Cayard was not on board when the boat capsized on Monday, so the Artemis Racing CEO was in danger of having to return to the US without first-hand experience. 'I am so happy to have been able to get to sail the boat before I had to leave,' he said. 'It is pretty cool technology.'
During the session, Cayard was very active, taking notes and photographs, moving from the stern to the bow and noting every detail, before taking over the helm for a long tour of the Hauraki Gulf on all points of sail.
The cameras also came out frequently on all types of craft, from kayaks to tin fishing dinghies to cruising and racing yachts as the hard-wing cat made a spectacular sight on the Hauraki Gulf.
The AC45 is scheduled for another session with the Artemis Racing crew Sunday in Auckland.