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America's Cup Rialto: August 10 - And then there were two - Defiant and Te Aihe sailing on the Gulf

by Richard Gladwell/ 10 Aug 13:42 BST 8 August 2020
Emirates Team New Zealand's Te Aihe crosses American Magic's Defiant - August 10, 2020 © Emirates Team New Zealand

Two America's Cup teams were out sailing on the Hauraki Gulf today - for the first time both had their AC75's afloat, and no doubt looking for some sort of informal hookup.

Emirates Team NZ were first to launch today, hitting the water in the near dark at 07.30am, before leaving the dock at 9.00am and headed for Rangitoto Beacon at the entrance to the inner Hauraki Gulf to set up with mainsail and Code Zero, and their #1 jib.

After a brief test sail, Te Aihe headed out deep into the Hauraki Gulf sailing on foils into what was showing as a 11kt northerly breeze - a lot more than was on offer in the inner harbour - where glassy calms abounded. It was Te Aihe's first outing since July 20 - three weeks in the boatshed.

American Magic launched Defiant at 9.00am and was off the dock by 10.30am, under tow and without any sails hoisted until they too reached Rangitoto light.

They missed any unplanned rendezvous with the America's Cup Defender by a good margin, and rigged at the same point as the Kiwis and hoisted what looked to be a similar sail combination. Before taking off to the north briefly before turning east to get into the same patch of breeze as the Kiwis who were foiling quite happily, albeit near lost in the cloudy murk in the area.

The forecast for the Waitemata Harbour today was for winds of a westerly direction of around 8-10kts. It only swung to that direction about 11.00, with American Magic just catching the change nicely. By 12.30pm the breeze had spread across the Gulf embracing the two AC75's in an 11-13kt NW breeze - ideal test conditions. They would have been expected to hit close to 40kts in these windspeeds.

Unfortunately our AC75 stalking technique was off-pace today, complicated by a mid-afternoon physio appointment.

Only saw Emirates Team New Zealand at a distance after they moved onto the outer Waitemata Harbour off Mission Bay. They looked very fast, but today was one where the AC75 is probably at its most impressive. Although they started the day with Code Zero they finished on #2 jib.

The real time windspeed readings showed 15kts average - although visually it didn't look anything like that windspeed.

American Magic was off Takapuna sailing with her Code Zero and #1 jib in breezes that looked around the 10kts mark. Her previously seen issue with having difficulty staying on her foils following a tack without doing a touchdown was again evident. However it was more a light bounce, but looking at a video of ETNZ Te Aihe also appeared to suffer the same affliction but to a lesser degree, and with just the briefest of touchdowns. These touchdowns can be clearly seen from both AC75's in the Airflow videos.

But remember that both videos were shot on the inner Waitemata, and there is substantial variances in wind pressure and direction, which are often completely random and varaiance in flight height are not necessarily due to operator error on flight control systems.

The lesson from today is that the AC75 is very susceptible to variances in wind pressure, and that it is way too easy to draw nit-picking conclusions about perceived differences between boats, new design additions etc.

Off course action

Ashore at the High Court, Justice Simon Moore delivered his formal decision on the whether the temporary injunction obtained by Emirates Team New Zealand and their events organisation arm, America's Cup Events, should become permanent - preventing further publication of a leaked and confidential letter/report from the CEO's of Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment and Auckland Council, along with an interim audit report. The documents along with secret recordings of ACE meetings claimed irregularities in the expenditure of a $40million (USD$25.5million Event fee) of which three of four instalments have been paid by MBIE who was responsible for the payment of the event fee.

Justice Moore concluded that the temporary injunction should become permanent, sparking another round of muted media outrage. It should be noted that of the widely quoted $NZD250million being spent on the 2021 America's Cup, by the NZ Govt and Auckland Council, approximately $NZD210million is being spent on the capital works, which become an asset completely owned by the City and 50% paid for by the NZ Govt. The $210million investment covers rectification of contamination from the removal of fuel storage and dangerous substance storage facilities which previously covered the area - a cost for which the Council was solely responsible.

The $NZD40million Event Fee is paid by MBIE, but is only part of the cost of staging the event with the balance being raised by ACE through sponsorships, and with contributions from other organisations. On March 1, 2020, America's Cup and Challenger Selection Series naming rights sponsor Prada advised that they had signed a contract with COR36 an organisation controlled by Patrizo Bertelli for a sponsorship contribution of E23million ($NZD41million). COR36 is the organisation charged with organising of the challenger side of the event under the banner of the Prada Cup.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, easterly winds in excess of 30kts are forecast, becoming light on Wednesday and for the rest of the week.

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