Team Emirates New Zealand scored its second point of the America’s Cup challenger series, the Louis Vuitton Cup, by winning its second race on San Francisco bay today, July 9, 2013. Both today’s and Sunday’s races were won by default, since the boats scheduled to race against the New Zealand boat were no-shows. At the first race, held Sunday July 7, Team Prada – Luna Rossa refused to race as a protest against new rules that they claim discriminate against their boat in favor of the defending Oracle team. A hearing was held Monday to address that protest, with the ruling scheduled to be announced today or tomorrow.
For today’s race, the schedule called for a match between New Zealand and team Artemis, the Swedish entry. That also turned into a one-boat race. Artemis’ skipper Dean Barker and crew were unable to race, since they are still preparing their boat under a time extension granted as a result of their crash while practicing, which caused the death of crewman Andrew Simpson earlier this year. Artemis hopes to be racing again in two weeks.
New Zealand’s AC72 hard-winged catamaran, named Aotearoa – which translates from Maori as “Anzac day”, a day set aside to honor soldiers – ran a fast two laps of the 16.16 nautical mile course in 45 minutes, 28 seconds, close to a full minute quicker than they ran the same course during Sunday’s first race. Wind strength was slightly higher today, with a high of 20 knots of breeze compared with a high of 16 knots on Sunday. Top speed during the race was 43.26 knots, or about 49.7 miles per hour.
During both races, the New Zealand AC72 boat only had both hulls clear of the water and up on its hydrofoils for short stints. Since their solo run today guaranteed a full point towards the Louis Vuitton Cup, awarded to the winning challenger – as long as they finished – their on-course time was used for practice rather than ultimate speed. For those not familiar with hydrofoiling, here’s an explanation.
The short description is that, while the twin-hulled AC72 catamarans, even without hydrofoils, are much faster than the single-hulled boats used in most previous America’s Cup races, the addition of hydrofoils – which are relatively small, almost flat wings, attached horizontally to the two rudders and two dagger-boards that extend down from each of the twin hulls of the AC72 – can be compared to adding an after-burner to a jet engine, or a supercharger to an automobile engine.
With both hulls completely above the water while riding on the hydrofoil wings, the drag on the boat caused by the movement through the water is dramatically decreased and the speed of the boat equally dramatically increased.
The New Zealand AC72 was the first of the four teams, challengers and defender included, to get their boat up on hydrofoils, and has more total hours hydrofoiling than any other team.
After today’s race, Ray Davies, the Emirates New Zealand crew member and tactician said; “There was a little bit more breeze today, probably a knot or two on average compared to the other day. We took a few things away from that first day, and worked on it (and) studied the video. It’s good to have proper video footage, so we can analyze things better. It’s an opportunity to watch, learn and improve.”
“They’re slick in jibing,” said Murray Jones of Oracle team USA, the America’s Cup defender, which was practicing on the racecourse before Emirates Team New Zealand’s solo race today. “But our programs are different. They have to race now and we don’t have to start racing until September.” (Only the three challenging teams will race against each other during the challenger selection series, called the Louis Vuitton Cup, with the winner of that series facing-off with defender Oracle Team USA in the America’s Cup finals, scheduled for mid-September of this year) “We’ve been working on our straight-line speed and now we’re moving into the race training portion of our program.”
Veterans of previous America’s Cup matches, who sailed in much slower monohulled AC race boats, expressed their awe after seeing the speeds attained by the new generation of AC72 racers.
“I come from 3,000 to 4,000 hours of sailing a 12-Meter off Fremantle,” said current America’s Cup Regatta Director Iain Murray, who raced in the 1987 America’s Cup in the waters off Western Australia. “The time we spent trying to tack a boat and minimize our speed loss from 8.25 knots down to 6.5 knots in a tack. I look at these boats go from 21-22 knots and touch on maybe 10 knots as the bottom speed in a tack, maybe 25 knots as the bottom in a jibe, these are speeds we’ve never seen before in sailing.”