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Cup Spy Nov 13: Kiwis abort session after control issue

by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World NZ 13 Nov 2023 05:26 PST 14 November 2023
Emirates Team New Zealand - AC40 - Day 41 - Auckland - November 13, 2023 © Sam Thom/America's Cup

Emirates Team New Zealand had a rare breakdown early in their testing session today, Monday.

The purpose of the session is guessed to be further testing on their two development wing foils, with the most recent being the wing foil fitted to the port foil arm, which proved to be problematic.

On the video the LEQ12 did some runs in the upper Waitemata Harbour crossing into Shoal Bay, in flat water and about 10-12kts of breeze, and seemed to be sailing well.

They did a couple of tacks/gybes transitioning foils without an issue.

As can be seen on the video there was one foiling issue when the LEQ12 was sailing on the port foil, which broke the surface as the LEQ12 rolled into windward.

They tri-foiled for a period and then gybed onto the starboard wing foil and sailed down the harbour, past Stanley Bay. Again sailing normally and fast. They attempted a gybe off the Naval Base in Devonport. The port foil arm did not appear to lower properly, and the LEQ12 splashed down.

Drop the video into slow motion (0.25 speed) to watch both of these foiling incidents.

They then sailed slowly in displacement mode down to the waiting chase boat off Mechanics Bay. From the shore, it was not clear what the issue was. After being stopped for 30 minutes, the support crew transferred across, to assist with dropping the sails before towing back to base, and hauling out.

From the video one of the engineering team appears to unscrew a panel in the port foil arm, as the crew gathered around to have a look, as is done in F1, with the real intent to shield the issue from the AC37 Recon Team camera. Another team member can be seen standing to one side operating a laptop. The rest of the video shows the LEQ12 being lowered into the marina, and the AC37 Recon Team reports on the rest of the short-lived session, when the port foil failed again.

In the interview coach Ray Davies said the issue affected the whole boat, which is an interesting comment, and may point to a power issue, or a PLC issue or a software issue.

We have seen similar incidents with other teams, including one losing the foil arm inspection hatch completely, allowing water to enter. The foil arms have a hollow area through which the control lines pass to operate the wing foil flaps. This is a separate function from the Foil Control System - which raises and lowers the foil arms in tacks and gybes.

Weather forecasts for the rest of the week look to be good for test sailing.

PostScript: We can report that Emirates Team NZ were back on the Hauraki Gulf on Tuesday. We watched most of the session, which went off without a hitch - that we could see. They sailed in an onshore breeze of around 12-15kts with a moderate seastate. It is not known whether yesterday's issue on the port wingfoil was resolved, or if on older/one design foil was fitted to ensure the session could be conducted on other testing items.

AC37 Joint Recon Team Reports:

Emirates Team New Zealand - AC40/LEQ12 - November 13, 2023 - Auckland

A light but building WSW tending West breeze blowing across the Hauraki Gulf today as Emirates Team New Zealand launched the LEQ12. Crane was at 12:15 for a scheduled dock out of 13:00hrs for Day 41 of testing. Another great sailing day in Auckland where the sun was out.

The breeze had built to a steady 10-12 knots that was almost from the West by the time sails were hoisted at 13:20hrs.

Sail choice today was the M2 and J2. The lads onboard commenced sailing at 13:30 in the upper area of the Harbour off the Viaduct before bearing away and heading down the Waitemata on port tack.

Off Devonport, the team attempted a gybe but quickly came off the foils on the exit and limped over to the chase boat. The team appeared to be having control issues on the port foil and ended up dropping sails at 13:50hrs. They then commenced a displacement tow back to the dock for a better look.

Once at the dock, the team hauled out of the water at 14:30 before re-launching at 15:15hrs. While out of the water, the electronic and hydro team were working inside the inspection hatch on the port arm, confirming the potential of a control issue on the port foil flap.

After hoisting the same sail configuration as earlier, the team set out again at 15:42hrs from just off the Viaduct Harbour.

Following a short tack on port, the team on the boat tacked over, foiled for no more than 20 seconds before crashing down on the port foil - the same foil which seemed to have an issue earlier.

It was clear the issue was not properly resolved, and the team got straight into the second sails down of the day.

The team were back at the dock around 1615hrs before hauling the yacht out for the final time of the day. We are assuming they would like to definitively find the cause of the issue so they can make the most of the good conditions over the next days. We managed to interview Ray Davies, Emirates Team New Zealand Coach after the session today who confirmed to us it was a control issue and answered a couple more questions regarding the past few sailing sessions.

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