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Emirates Team New Zealand's Women & Youth Sailors begin on water AC40 Training

by Emirates Team NZ/Sail-World.com/nz 27 Mar 05:37 PDT
Emirates Team New Zealand - AC40 - Day 72 - March 16, 2024 - Auckland © James Somerset/Emirates Team NZ

Emirates Team New Zealand's Youth and Womens AC sailing teams have begun their on-water training ahead of the Unicredit Youth and Puig Women's America's Cup regattas, later in the year.

The Kiwi crews had a challenging three-hour workout in fresh conditions on Auckland's Waitemata Harbour on Tuesday.

With several team members away due to Olympic sailing and other commitments, Gemma Jones and Oscar Gunn got their first taste of sailing the AC40 for real after spending countless hours over the previous few months surrounded by computer screens, practising with the AC40 simulator and game.

"We've been working the simulator a lot, so we got used to how it reacts there," Jones says. The daughter of multiple America's Cup winner Murray Jones and Olympic Silver medalist Jan Shearer, Gemma Jones was the helm of NZ's Nacra 16 at the Rio Olympics. However, on Tuesday, she was in a trimming role on the AC40.

49er sailor Oscar Gunn, who had to withdraw from the 2024 49er Worlds after his skipper broke a leg, was also in the trimming role on board the AC40.

"It was pretty unreal actually getting the feel of the boat. In the simulator, you can play all the controls and watch it on the screen, but you don't get the feeling of blasting along. Today was a pretty breezy, epic session." said Gunn.

Kiwi SailGP strategist Liv Mackay and Tokyo2020 49er helmsman Leonard Takahashi joined Jones and Gunn for Tuesday's on-the-water session.

Mackay and Takahashi were refamiliarising themselves with the AC40, having previously sailed onboard Te Kakahi last year.

"Getting on the water is a huge step forward for the women's team," explained Mackay.

Former Finn Gold Cup winner and Tokyo2020 Olympian Josh Junior has been integral to the selection and development of both women's and youth crews. The twice America's Cup winner has been onboard helping the sailors get up to speed on the AC40 in Tuesday's fresh 17-20 knot winds.

"They've been spending a lot of time in the simulator, and it's clear that all that work has been paying off - they were handling the boat really well," Junior said.

"We'll slowly build up with the crews. We don't want to throw them all on the boat at once. But as everyone gains more confidence and with all their training on the simulator, they'll be out there on their own soon enough."

The New Zealand Youth and Women's crews will compete against teams from 12 countries in September and October 2024 in Barcelona as part of the 2024 America's Cup events.

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