Please select your home edition
Rooster 2020 - Impact BA - LEADERBOARD

Te Aihe's late afternoon beat-up gives insight into AC75 racing for the America's Cup

by Richard Gladwell Sail-World NZ 11 Dec 2019 21:26 PST 12 December 2019
Emirates Team New Zealand - AC75 - Te Aihe - December 11, 2019, Waitemata Harbour © Richard Gladwell /

On Wednesday for the third time this week, Emirates Team New Zealand put their AC75 Te Aihe, through her paces following the return of Peter Burling and Blair Tuke from the Hyundai 49er Worlds.

Two other sailing crew members Josh Junior and Andy Maloney, are away in Melbourne for the Finn Gold Cup, which starts next week, giving the opportunity for others to get more AC75 experience.

Te Aihe is believed to have undergone substantial modification and enhancements during the two week period behind closed doors at the team base, the team started with two four hour sessions on Monday and Tuesday followed by a monster nine-hour session on Wednesday.

The Wednesday session appeared to be a typical piece of testing - speed runs accompanied by a rest period as data was evaluated, settings checked, and adjustments made. Towards the end, the boat performance seems a lot less erratic, and the development and test process continues.

On the way out, Cup-watchers had the unusual sight of a crew member crawling out on the AC75's raised foil arm to either make a wing flap adjustment, or remove debris.

Returning home in the late afternoon, Te Aihe gives an impression of how racing could look in the Cup, as the AC75 sped up the Rangitoto Channel tacked towards North Head - approaching to within about 50 metres before doing a high-speed roll tack and heading over to the opposite shore. She performs the same manoeuvre off the Tamaki Yacht Club, before taking off at speed up the harbour in her usual mode - flying just above the waves, slightly bow down and heeled to windward.

This was on the area designated as Course C for the 2021 America's Cup - and used for match racing regattas before the courses were moved further up the harbour.

Drawing five metres there is plenty of water close to North Head, a prominent landmark, and extinct volcano, at the entrance to the Waitemata harbour. The AC75 is a jaw-dropping boat to see live, and videos rarely do it justice. Watching a 75ft boat approach at 30kts on foils before spinnings rapidly through a tack, like a downhill skier doing a jump turn, is quite a sight. Somehow whether the boat does a dry tack, or just kisses the water seems irrelevant. However, the speed out of the tack will be a key factor in racing.

Late next week the Match Conditions are due to be published, with wind limits expected to be included. In Bermuda the limit was set at 6 - 24kts maximum measured over a 30 second average in the period of eight minutes to three minutes before the start. Once the three-minute mark was reached (ie three minutes left until the race start), the race would go ahead regardless of what wind strength was reached. For Auckland, given that Te Aihe is seen sailing regularly in winds of 24-25kts, it would seem likely that the Bermuda limit could be increased to 28-30kts. Two rough weather course areas are designated there seems to be a lot more flexibility to ensure that racing is staged in higher wind strengths.

The lower end of the wind range could be set at six-seven knots - whatever the minimum is for foiling in the AC75. Certainly, the foiling monohull is very slow sailing in displacement mode. To get around this same issue in the 2017 Americas Cup with the AC50's, a time limit of 10 minutes applied for Leg 2 (the first downwind leg of the race).

Light weather aside, from what we have seen to date from the AC75, the 36th Match and the Prada Cup will provide the most spectacular racing yet seen in an America's Cup.

Related Articles

America's Cup Rialto: Out of sight in the Paddock
Circuit training in The Paddock, wind pressure affects dry tacks and gybes, dodging a 30-40kt squall American Magic's Defiant left their base around 1030hrs on a fast 10nm foil-borne around for another training session out on Course E - between Eastern Beach and Waiheke Island, otherwise known as "The Paddock". Posted today at 2:35 am
America's Cup Rialto: Defiant's 'glamour day'
After a batten failure, American Magic headed back out for a three hour plus sail on a 'glamour day' After losing an hour or so through gear failure, American Magic headed back out onto the Waitemata for a training session out on Course E - between Eastern Beach and Waiheke Island, otherwise known as "The Paddock". Posted on 6 Aug
America's Cup: Arb Panel rules on CIC application
The Arbitration Panel for the America's Cup has ruled on the Stars + Stripes' application The Arbitration Panel for the America's Cup has rules against the application made to it by the US Challenger Stars + Stripes Team USA. Posted on 5 Aug
America's Cup: NZL60 now on permanent display
The 2000 America's Cup winner NZL-60 has joined the 2017 champion on permanent display in Aucklanaly NZL-60, the winner of the 2000 America's Cup has gone on display outside the Emirates Team NZ base in the Viaduct Harbour, Auckland. In the 30th Match for the America's Cup, RNZYS became the first club outside USA to successfully defend the America's Cup. Posted on 4 Aug
America's Cup Rialto: Aug 3 - New York train alone
American Magic looked to have settled into a training routine putting in five hours on the water American Magic looked to have settled into a catch-up routine to close out the five months they have been off the water. NZL-60 the 2000 America's Cup champion has been refurbished and will go on public display at the ETNZ base. Posted on 3 Aug
America's Cup Rialto: August 1 - AC75's compared
American Magic sailed their AC75, Defiant compared to ETNZ's AC75 Te Aihe While American Magic sailed their AC75, Defiant on three days of the four available, last week, Emirates Team New Zealand have opted to sail only their 12 metre long test boat Te Kahu. Here's some thoughts and images on what we've seen. Posted on 1 Aug
America's Cup Rialto: July 30 - A revealing day
American Magic looked to have dropped into a solid training routine New York Yacht Club's American Magic looked to have dropped into a solid training routine, necessary to catchup the five months that the team has been unable to sail their AC75, Defiant. Posted on 30 Jul
America's Cup: US$35,000 set as refit minimum
NZ government has clarified the requirements which must be met obtain border exemption The New Zealand government is, from July 2020, allowing foreign flagged vessels and yachts with booked-in refits or repairs to enter New Zealand. The minimum repair/refit value has been set at NZ$50,000 (US$33,300) Posted on 29 Jul
America's Cup Rialto: July 28 - First hookup
The two America's Cup teams enjoyed a fresh easterly breeze and flat water, before doing a hookup. On the water the two teams worked to a very different regime - with the Kiwis doing various runs and manoeuvres - but of course with only four crew on the 12 metre long test boat. Updated with video of the day Posted on 28 Jul
America's Cup: David versus three Goliaths
America's Cup: Stars + Stripes Team USA want a green light to take on the Big Boys The fourth Challenger for the 36th America's Cup has sought confirmation of their AC75 build and buy/lease program from the Arbitration Panel, so that they can take on the three so-called Super Teams in the upcoming Prada and America's Cup. Posted on 28 Jul
Vaikobi 2019AUG - Footer 3RS Sailing 2020 - RSSS - FOOTERAuck Boat Show - Launch 728x90 BOTTOM