Please select your home edition
Crewsaver 2021 Safetyline LEADERBOARD

Gladwell's Line: AC40 has impressive first day's sailing on Course E

by Richard Gladwell/ 21 Sep 14:54 BST
Emirates Team NZ's AC40 - passes the 150yr old Bean Rock lighthouse at the entrance to the Waitemata Harbour - September 21, 2022 © Richard Gladwell, / nz

Emirates Team New Zealand had an impressive day sailing their new AC40 for the first time. Indeed it was the first sailing for the America's Cup champions, for 18 months. The SailGP squad were away getting ready for this weekend's SailGP regatta in Cadiz.

Today's crew comprised Nathan Outteridge, Nick Burridge, Ray Davies and Sam Meech - Bronze medalist at Rio 2016 in the Men's Laser . All were having their first sail in a foiling monohull. So that considered, it was a good effort.

After yesterday's murk, the morning was bright but with light winds.

The Kiwis may have been out of it for 18 months, but were quickly back to running their predictable, military-like sailing schedule:

  • 10.00hrs Boat to crane
  • 10.30hrs Boat into water
  • 11.30hrs Dockout

The mini-armada consisting of a regulation America's Cup Chase boat, and a 2021 America's Cup umpire boat now re-purposed as a Recon boat, pursued the AC40 towed once again by the bug-like, hydrogen-powered foiling Chase Boat Zero down a barely rippling Waitemata harbour. They hooked up with a second big chase boat in the Channel, which presumably had been sent ahead to check the conditions - with a modest northerly forecast.

The fleet headed off to Motuihe Island, a former prisoner of war camp and quarantine about 5nm distant, before heading down the Channel to the Course E, of the 2021 America's Cup, and set up off Beachlands and the Pine Harbour marina.

There they were getting beyond binocular range - even for a pair of 14x stabilised Fujinons - however, the AC40 seemed to be sailing well enough in what would have been flat water, but with a likely patchy breeze - upset by the surrounding islands. The area is near completely landlocked - and quite a different proposition from the long lolloping cross-swell of Barcelona.

A few hours later, the fleet appeared from whence there had disappeared, and near-straight lined back to North Head, sailing in a light-moderate northerly. At North Head, there was a conflab with the chase boats, before they sailed a couple of short laps up and down the channel before turning right and foiling up the harbour in time to catch the early rush hour.

The AC40 sailing we saw was impressive for a first day in light winds of 10-12kts off North Head, blowing from the North and straight down the Rangitoto Channel. Off Course E it appeared to be lighter based on the Predictwind now-casting read-outs.

Because the AC40 sails so close to the water surface, it is often hard to detect if it is fully airborne or not. The white hull melds perfectly with the giveaway white spray of an underbody touchdown. The effect is somewhat disconcerting - with plenty of double-takes. But even if it was not always clear of the water - it was so close as to be insignificant. It certainly turned on a dime, and its manoeuvrability was impressive - with none of the obvious crashing off the foils during a tack.

Foiling gybes were de rigueur, and foiling tacks almost the same.

The only issues were the raising and lowering the foil arms in tacks and gybes. In the conditions, there was a significant gain to be able to turn a corner and get the old wing quickly clear of the water - and it wasn't as slick as we are used to seeing on an AC75.

There was the occasional roll to windward, as the pressure comes off the rig unexpectedly, and the leeward foil generates excessive lift.

The demeanour of the AC40 is such that it always appears to be sailing bow down - but then again Te Rehutai - the current America's Cup champion from the same design team - has the same sailing attitude.

Undoubtedly, the AC40 will be a challenging boat to sail.

It will be interesting to see how the Youth and Womens crews can throw the boat around in both Match and Fleet racing once their confidence is up, come the America's Cup regattas in Barcelona 2024. One suspects that we may see some completely different racing from that of the AC75's in the last Cup.

Related Articles

Cup Spy Dec 7: INEOS tow tests - sail next week
INEOS Britannia ventured out on the water for another towing test, they hope to sail next week INEOS Britannia conducted a five hour, ten tow testing session off Mallorca, Palma. Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli, the Italian challenger had a useful test sailing session in winds of up to 12kts off Cagliari, Sardinia. Top Kiwi coach joins Luna Rossa. Posted on 8 Dec
Cup Spy Dec 6: Italy and USA back into training
Two teams got back into training for the 2024 America's Cup on Tuesday, in Pensacola and Cagliari. Two teams got back into training for the 37th America's Cup on Tuesday. Luna Rossa and American Magic sailed in light winds in Cagliari and Pensacola respectively. The US team had an 80% dry tack/gybe percentage. The Italians focused on flight control. Posted on 7 Dec
Cup Spy Dec 2: Luna Rossa swims .. Am Magic flies
Luna Rossa capsized in a rapidly building breeze. American Magic foiled solidly for 75nm. Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli, the Italian America's Cup challenger capsized in 21-22kts winds after being caught in a rapidly building breeze and sea state. In Pensacola American Magic put another 75nm in their logbook foiling for 2hrs 43min. Posted on 3 Dec
Cup Spy Dec 1: American Magic caught short
Lesson for all teams as to how crucial the correct sail choice will be in 2024 American Magic spent over five hours on the water, covering 55nm, in lighter winds than expected. Unfortunately the team made the wrong mainsail choice, in the expectation of stronger winds, and had to do tow-starts 75% of the time. Posted on 2 Dec
Cup Spy Nov 30: Fun but Frightening
Italian Flight controller: "The boat is pretty scary in that condition." Plus a look at that Pole. The Italian challenger say they had a "productive practice day" on Wednesday, sailing in their strongest wind yet in their LEQ12 prototype. We look at the British team's battle over the legality of their Instrumentation Pole. Posted on 2 Dec
America's Cup: Match dates released
AC37 Event Limited (ACE) have confirmed both the intended race area and the race dates for the Ameri AC37 Event Limited (ACE) have confirmed both the intended race area and the race dates for the America's Cup Match 2024. The 37th Match will start on October 12, 2024 and racing is scheduled to October 27, 2024. Posted on 30 Nov
Cup Spy Nov 29: American Magic flies high
Motorsport mogul Roger Penske drops in on American Magic. USA and Italy clock up big miles. Motorsport mogul Roger Penske drops in on American Magic, and brings a fresh breeze to Pensacola Bay. USA and Italy clock up big miles on the water in Pensacola and Cagliari. Who will be the first to a 100nm day? Posted on 30 Nov
Cup Spy Nov 27: Luna Rossa sails, Brits tweak more
Luna Rossa went sailing unexpectedly on Sunday, as the Brits continue to twing and twang Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli's LEQ12 went sailing unexpectedly on Sunday afternoon, after being under repair since dropping their mast while rigging on November 6, and damaging the mast head. INEOS Britannia continued their mast setup in Mallorca. Posted on 28 Nov
America's Cup: Rigging the Silver Arrow
The INEOS Britannia shore team and technicians had a busy day dockside in Palma The INEOS Britannia shore team and technicians had a busy day dockside Friday in Palma with the crucial first-stepping of the ‘Silver Arrow' T6 LEQ12 carbon mast and rigging. Posted on 26 Nov
America's Cup: AC40 construction changes announced
Construction changes announced for existing and future AC40 builds following AC40 nosedive Emirates Team NZ have announced the design and construction changes to be incorporated into existing and future AC40 builds. The changes have been developed as a result of damage that occurred after the violent nosedive of the team's LEQ12, on Tuesday. Posted on 25 Nov