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America's Cup Rialto: September 5 - Two AC75's train in fresh breeze

by Richard Gladwell/ 6 Sep 2020 04:04 PDT 6 September 2020
American Magic does speed runs while Emirates Team New Zealand do the same close to Motutapu Island - Waitemata Harbour - September 5, - 36th America's Cup © Richard Gladwell / / nz

For only the second time since the arrival of the first America's Cup Challenger, American Magic, there were two AC75's out training on the Hauraki Gulf today.

Te Aihe sailed on Monday of this week. Today was the first time Defiant has been out this week. A combination of light winds and too much wind disrupted training opportunities during the week.

Both left their respective docks within a few minutes of each other around 1030hrs, with American Magic towing their AC75 Defiant on her foils, while Emirates Team New Zealand's Te Aihe hoisted their sails just outside the marina and sailed down the harbour.

This the first weekend since the reduction of COVID-19 Alert Levels from Level 3 - which bans all recreational boating to Level 2.5 which apparently doesn't. With a fine Spring day, blue skies and a moderate SW (offshore) there were plenty of recreational craft afloat, plus Winter Series racing for yachts and dinghy sailors making up for missed days.

Not surprisingly both AC75's headed further into the Hauraki Gulf, training off Auckland's North Shore in the area bounded by the East Coast Bays on the western side and several islands, but mainly Rangitoto and Motutapu - or more simply known as the America's Cup course area from the 2000 and 2003.

American Magic seemed to be more focussed on straight line speed testing, possibly testing a new wing.

The Emirates Team New Zealand did their usual mix of race training, along with speed testing - with several fast runs being undertaken parallel with Motutapu. One of the chase boats dropped three yellow racing buoys which seemed to be more used as target practice rather than racing on a set course.

Windstrength at the Northern Leading beacon at the entrance to the inner Waitemata was measured as 20-23kts, which seemed a bit on the generous side.

Sunday September 6 - American Magic has long session in a strong breeze

No eyewitness account today due to family events. American Magic was the only team to sail today in a westerly breeze recorded at 25kts, gusting 30kts around midday - easing in the afternoon. They sailed a five hour session on the area known as "The Paddock" or Course E on the eastern side of Browns Island. Sail-World has had several reports of Defiant briefly capsizing around 1.30pm before coming upright with no apparent damage and continuing sailing. This ability to recover from capsize and nosedive situations and continue race training is very pleasing to see in the AC75, and means that the boats can be pushed very hard in racing situations, and recover from a mishap, unlike the AC50 and AC72 of the 34th and 35th America's Cups.

We did catch Defiant, on live video, sailing up the Waitemata, returning to her base - and she looked very comfortable in the fresh breeze finishing off with a good final tack across the Harbour.

Mike Millet of the Youtube channel AirflowNZ captured the action as Defiant sailed back up the Waitemata at the end of the session. He reports that Defiant "spent five hours well out of view near Waiheke Island. They had a wild ride back to dock in the Harbour with huge wind gusts testing man & machine!"

Again an even more impressive performance given their capsize earlier in the day.

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