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America's Cup: An upgraded Te Rehutai returns to the Waitemata

by Hamish Hooper/ETNZ 21 Mar 01:10 PDT 21 March 2023
Emirates Team NZ's America's Cup champion, Te Rehutai, is launched and set up after an upgrade to Version 2 of the AC75 Class Rule - Auckland - March 20, 2023 © James Somerset/Emirates Team New Zealand

Te Rehutai, Emirates Team New Zealand’s 36th America’s Cup winning yacht is set to return to the waters of Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf just over two years since the last time it was sailed for the final race of AC36.

The team’s AC75 emerged from the shed after a long hibernation on Monday for a series of rig and dock checks encompassing a mix of old and new. Visually sporting fresh new livery and technically presenting a valuable bridge between the 36th and 37th America’s Cup AC75 class rules.

“It's a really cool day for the team wheeling out Te Rehutai which is obviously a very special boat, having won the America’s cup for us.” said Nick Burridge, Team Reliability and Maintenance Manager.

“The boat has been upgraded to meet the latest rule changes. So, we've got a bit of rig tuning, messing around with a few geometries before we put it on the water and run through a series of checks and things to make sure it'll be safe to push off the dock and go sailing when we get a favourable weather window.”

There will no doubt be many questions and speculation by both the casual observers and the teams viewing the joint recon program about exactly what has changed. Many of which will likely remain unanswered.

But one of the more obvious changes from the last time Te Rehutai sailed is the installation of bikes as a power source as opposed to the former grinding pedestals from AC36.

The Emirates Team New Zealand cyclors have played an important role in the implementation of the systems that will help power the AC75’s with three less crew than that used in the 36th America’s Cup.

“It no secret that most, if not all, of the teams are going down the cyclor path in their AC75 designs for Barcelona.” said Cyclor Simon van Velthooven.

“Obviously we have some experience with cycling from the 35th America’s Cup in Bermuda, but that was six years ago now, so we have been working closely with the designers to create the most efficient systems possible. However, in saying that, this won’t change the fact that as cyclors we will still be required to push ourselves to the physical limit each time we are onboard, but it will be a welcome change from the long hours spent on a stationary bike in the gym each week. So, we are all chomping at the bit to get back in the saddle so to speak.”

For Emirates Team New Zealand having previously focused on the commissioning of their AC40’s as well as a block of two boat testing and race simulation, getting ‘the big boat’ back out presents yet another step up in intensity for the team in an ever-decreasing timeline towards Barcelona in 2024.

“It is a mindset change and step up for everyone,” explained Boat Captain Spencer Loxton, “It’s a big boat relative to what we have had, and it opens up a whole heap more jobs for everyone. It is the next phase for the campaign so focus and attention to detail to get the most out of our testing period is important.”

Emirates Team New Zealand COO Kevin Shoebridge explained the scale of work that has gone into getting Te Rehutai onto the water. “As always, this has really been a full team effort in the shadows to get Te Rehutai back out sailing again. From the team of boat builders at our production facility that have quietly undertaken the refit over the past few months, to our designers and engineers that have pushed the envelope of design as usual and of course the shore crew that work tirelessly to reach such critical deadlines. It is something this team can be proud of for just one minute before focusing on what will be a very intense period of sailing over the coming while.”

Te Rehutai will be the third AC75 back on the water for the 37th America’s Cup campaign, following Alinghi in Barcelona and American Magic in Pensacola.

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