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Cup Spy: Emirates Team NZ takes a high speed dive

by Richard Gladwell, Sail-World NZ 22 Jan 19:05 PST 23 January 2023
Emirates Team New Zealand's LEQ12 past the point of no-return in a nose-dive - Waitemata Harbour - January 23, 2023 © Richard Gladwell - Sail-World.com/nz

Emirates Team New Zealand did a high speed nosedive and capsize in their LEQ12 test boat on the inner Waitemata Harbour, early this afternoon.

The incident occurred in perfect sailing conditions, as the America's Cup champions did a bear-away, the fastest point of sailing around an inner harbour mark.

The cause is not clear, but will be revealed when a Recon File System interview is available from the flight controller, double America's Cup winner Blair Tuke.

The incident happened outside the Royal Akarana Yacht Club, Sail-World's New Zealand Editor, Richard Gladwell, shooting still images, and Justin Mitchell shooting video captured the whole incident. Both were standing side by side on the same location, using similar strength lenses (600mm) and about 1nm away from the incident.

A frame by frame analysis of the incident shows the LEQ12 rounding the yellow harbour marker, while flying high on the foils.

As the LEQ12 turns it goes bow down and flies even higher on the foils. The effect of both actions is for the rudder elevator to come clear of the water, and at that point the nosedive and capsize becomes inevitable.

The LEQ12 continued to turn as the bow became embedded and the LEQ12 broached, with the LEQ12 entering the incident on port tack and exiting on starboard tack.

The images and sequence of events throw some light on the catastrophic damage that occurred when the LEQ12 did an earlier nosedive in more extreme conditions off Waiheke Island in mid-November.

Since that incident the bow section of the AC40 was re-designed and strengthened.

The reassuring aspect of the latest incident is that there was no damage to the AC40 hull, and once righted - which took a few minutes - the crew changed to a #3 jib and continued with a couple more up and downwind runs, before sailing back to the team base.

No-one was injured in the incident. The LEQ12 was righted and after changing the jib from a J#1 to a J#3 the team continued with a couple more test runs before calling it a day.

It is the second nosedive involving the LEQ12.

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