Please select your home edition
Edition
SW newsletters (top)

Sail-World NZ - Dec 30, 2020: Hard lessons from America's Cup WS... Vendee Globe latest

by Richard Gladwell, Sail-World.com/nz 29 Dec 2020 05:52 PST 29 December 2020
Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli with American Magic - December 18, 2020 - Waitemata Harbour - Auckland - 36th America's Cup © Richard Gladwell / Sail-World.com

Welcome to Sail-World.com's New Zealand e-magazine for December 30, 2020

Just over a week ago, in case you'd missed it, the first of what was to have been three America's Cup World Series was decided in the final race.

On the second leg of the six-leg race, a deficit of 800 metres was turned into a 300-metre lead and winning margin.

The following day, the Xmas Cup ran out of wind just before the finish line. Britannia II was physically only a few metres astern of the race leader, Te Rehutai - but in reality, was 5,500 metres adrift - or two legs behind.

Both races were decided by the teams' light weather ability or lack of it.

Surprisingly the sail that could have made a difference, the Code Zero, remained firmly in the sail lock on the teams' chase boats.

What was learned from the two series?

Firstly, all teams have a weak spot in winds at the lighter end of the range, which is not 6.5kts during the race - but only for a five minute measurement period before the race start.

The AC75 wind measurement system is not perfect, but the same system worked very well in Bermuda. Its only weak spot was demonstrated in one of the last Practice Races, where Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli were due to race. In the five minute period between minutes nine and four of the countdown, the wind did not trigger the lower limit of the rolling average of 6.5kts, and the start proceeded.

Within the final four minutes, the wind became significantly lighter. Neither the Italian nor the Kiwi boats could foil, and in the end, both struggled to make it to the start line before the race was blown up, several minutes after the starting signal.

During the third and final day of the ACWS, we saw several instances of AC75's sailing at speeds of close to 30kts, but making 0kts VMG (speed toward the next mark).

It was similar to what we saw on Bermuda, where the AC50's could make a windward mark on occasions, but when the time came to turn downwind, the sailing physics didn't work out. All they could do was sail back and forth hoping for a slight increase in pressure, which would be sufficient for them to point in the direction of the leeward mark, and maybe gain a race-winning edge over their opponent.

Then Regatta Director Iain Murray likened the situation to cutting a piece of wood with a blunt saw.

In the whole of the Bermuda regatta, light winds only precluded racing on two days out of 17, and caused another race to be abandoned and restarted, after a time limit expired.

On several occasions the course was set up for a sea breeze, only to have the westerly check-in around 4.00 pm - confounding the forecasters - and making racing feasible on Course C but not on Course A.

For various reasons, the British Challenger, INEOS Team UK failed to fire - due to a combination of breakdowns and poor light weather performance. From the outset, they came under siege from the world's mainstream and sailing media - most of whom have never seen an AC75 sailing, but seem to have answers aplenty.

There is a sense of déjà vu about the Brit's situation. Forty years ago Jack Knights wrote ahead of the America's Cup Challenger Final in 1980: "In most previous challenges the British didn't know what had hit them until they were being congratulated for going down like gentlemen. This time they understood the magnitude of their task within a week of arriving in Newport. Once you diagnose the problem, you are halfway to a remedy."

Whether INEOS Team UK have diagnosed their problem will be revealed in two and a half weeks.

British helmsman, skipper and team principal, Ben Ainslie has certainly put a brave face on the team's issues. The best possible spin on the situation is that Britannia II has some significant issues in lighter winds, but is competitive, all systems working as they should, in the moderate to fresh.

Maybe the Brit's problem could be as simple as a poor wing choice when they declared their configuration five days ahead of the start of racing. For the Prada Cup, the AC75's configuration needs only be declared two days in advance of racing.

The rule's intention is for the teams to use wings that are "all-purpose" - able to operate across the range of conditions and not be targeted for an expected windstrength, based on a long-range weather forecast.

Looking back over Sail-World's image files, several wing shapes have been trialled by INEOS Team UK, including ones that look to be more conventional.

Of course, while there is a limitation of six wings per boat, that doesn't mean three pairs, and each AC75 can also have up to 20 wing flaps. Add into that mix the allocation for the first boat (another six wings and 20 wing flaps) - and Ainslie's team should have plenty of data and options.

Getting additional horsepower out of the rig is another option for INEOS, and indeed all teams. While hull surgery may be an obvious option, other team designers say the hull is just an endplate between the rig and the water - quite a different proposition from displacement yacht design.

While American Magic finished ahead of Luna Rossa, the US team has been sailing in Auckland since July - more than any team, other than the Defender. The position could easily be reversed, once the Italians get in some more sailing miles - which they have been doing since the conclusion of the ACWS.

Emirates Team New Zealand topped the leaderboard for the ACWS, despite being the last boat to launch. The Kiwis had been in the water for less than four weeks, compared to the almost eight of the other three - who launched within five days of each other between October 16-20. ETNZ splashed on November 19.

There is a limit as to what can be read into a three-day series. Fortunately, each day was quite different - Speed being the determinant on Day 1, Match racing on Day 2, and lighter air Flight control prowess on Day 3. The regatta management got a good workout over the three-day series and the five days of practice racing. Herding the spectator fleet is a work in progress.

All teams claim they have plenty of developments to put aboard, and no doubt are looking to put the polish on their crew-work, match racing skills and systems reliability during the five weeks of racing in the Prada Cup.

Quite how Emirates Team New Zealand approaches the next two and a half months will be followed with real interest by kiwi fans.

Overarching the intrigue on both the Defender and Challenger sides of the equation is COVID-19. The cancellation of the 2020 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race should be a salutary lesson to all involved in the 36th America's Cup regattas.

For all the latest news from NZ and around the world see the Top 50 stories below.

Between newsletters, you can follow all the racing and developments in major and local events on www.sail-world.com/nz or by scrolling to the top of the site, select New Zealand, and get all the latest news and updates from the sailing world.

This will be our last newsletter for 2020. It's been a year like no-one could have imagined. In the past four months, we've made big gains in readership at Sail-World, and by all accounts the marine industry in New Zealand is going gang-busters. Long may it continue.

Wishing you a great 2021!

Good sailing!

Richard Gladwell
NZ Editor

Please forward your news stories and images directly to Sail-World NZ as text in the email and attach images in the standard way for emails. Our email address is sailworldnzl@gmail.com

To subscribe to Sail-World.com's NZ e-magazine published weekly go to the website sail-world.com/nz and click on Newsletter and Subscribe. You can see previous newsletters by clicking on Newsletter and then Archive from the drop-down menu.

To check if you have been missing one or more Sail-World newsletters - then check on Archive in the Newsletter section - and if you are missing some, then enter a new email address for you. Again the location is www.sail-world.com/NZ/newsletter

Or if you are a potential advertiser and want to understand how Sail-World can work for your company, website or product, then drop a line to Colin Preston whose details are in the Contact section of sail-world.com/nz

If you need to contact the Sail-World team, our phone numbers are +649 489 9267 or 021 301030 or from outside New Zealand +6421301030 and on WhatsApp at the same number. Our Skype address is sailworldnzl

Related Articles

Speed = Smile on the Dial
Four articles and two events in play at the present, continue to captivate us all around the globe Flying Nikka, the MW40OF Offshore 40 footer, I feel the need…, and David Henshall's The Greed for Speed are unequivocally all about this very subject. Of course, there are also two events in play at the present, the Vendée Globe and America's Cup... Posted on 10 Jan
I feel the need...
It would have to be one of the most oft quoted lines from the movies It would have to be one of the most oft quoted lines from the movies, and finishes with... 'The need for speed!' (As well as that big high five.) Now it is no stretch to discover that we have used an aviation-based theme here. Posted on 28 Dec 2020
All hail the new Chief of the Village
Which village, you ask? Well that would be the one of the TeePees... Which village, you ask? Well that would be the one of the TeePees, and the very new CF 520 could well be the one adorned with the huge plumage. Now we won't have to wait too long to find out, either, because the first one will be out sailing next Spring. Posted on 20 Dec 2020
Adrian Finglas - unending smile and passion
After all these years, and the number of times I've written his name, you still simply type in, Aidz You know it's still funny. After all these years, and the number of times I've written his name, you still simply type in, Aidz. The nickname is as synonymous with the man, as that smile, and his faultless dedication to task. Posted on 14 Dec 2020
Offshore in a blow with Il Duce
Offshore training ahead of the Sydney Hobart Race in a blow, with Il Duce (Andea Francolini) Il Duce (Andrea Francolini) stepped on board InfoTrack as they departed Sydney Heads and went out and South looking for an inbound front, as part of their training ahead of the 2020 Sydney Hobart Race. Posted on 10 Dec 2020
SOLAS race images by Bow Caddy Media
It was a great day for sailing, and photographers, at the SOLAS Big Boat Challenge It was a great day for sailing, and photographers, when the SOLAS Big Boat Challenge marched around Sydney Harbour. Posted on 8 Dec 2020
C43, but it's not an AMG
It does share a lot of the performance attributes of the Merc. It does share a lot of the performance attributes of the Merc. Well, as long as you make sure you select the right one for the road, and the other for the water, that is. Posted on 6 Dec 2020
Sail-World NZ: Dec 4 - Latest NZ and World News
Welcome to Sail-World.com's New Zealand e-magazine for December 4, 2020 Welcome to Sail-World.com's New Zealand e-magazine for December 3, 2020 Posted on 3 Dec 2020
There's a place called Hobart
It's pretty special all year round, and it's also a good springboard It's pretty special all year round. Hobart is also a marvellous springboard from which to leap into history, culinary delights, nature's gifts of both flora and fauna, all manner of beverages, trails, bushwalking... Posted on 22 Nov 2020
MBW newsletters (top)