Emirates Team New Zealand have completed a successful first day of testing for the new AC40, which will be used in the run up to the 37th America’s Cup, and for the Youth and Women’s AC
America’s Cup Defender, Emirates Team New Zealand has reported a successful maiden sail of the first AC40 in New Zealand on Tuesday, 20 September 2022, following successful tow testing earlier in the week.
The ‘mini’ America’s Cup class is a brand new design. On the boat’s first sail the crew successfully completed a foiling tack and foiling gybe, showing how rapidly the design of this new generation of foiling monohulls has evolved.
The purchase of one AC40 is a prerequisite for every team entering the 37th America’s Cup with the scaled-down boats being used for an America’s Cup preliminary series (two events in the run up to the Cup itself), and the reintroduced Youth America’s Cup.
Both the Youth AC and Preliminary Events (previously called the America’s Cup World Series) concept have been a feature of past America’s Cups, but both were dropped in the run-up to the 36th America’s Cup in Auckland.
The 37th AC will also introduce a new concept in the Women’s America’s Cup, which will (controversially for many) take place in the smaller AC40 class.
The first AC40 test sail was undertaken by a number of Emirates Team New Zealand crew, with the boat skippered by the team’s latest high-profile signing, Nathan Outteridge.
The Kiwi team reports that it took just a few minutes for helmsman Nathan Outteridge to go from a cautious displacement mode to popping the AC40 up onto its foils and off on starboard tack, sailing at 20+ knots boat speed in the light 8-10 knots of breeze.
Despite his considerable America’s Cup experience (Outteridge was the skipper of Artemis Racing in both the 2013 and 2017 America’s Cups) this was the Australian’s first day sailing one of the Cup foiling monohull yachts.
“It was obviously a very successful day, it was an impressive boat to sail for my first time sailing this type of boat,” Outteridge said after. “A little unnerving when trying to build speed, but once you get a bit of speed and the foil engages it goes from about 10 knots to 20 knots in about 5 seconds. So both pretty impressive, the acceleration and the reliability.”
Joining Outteridge onboard for the test sail were ETNZ coach Ray Davies, with Nick Burridge and Sam Meech. The team also had their newley developed foiling hydrogen-powered chase boat, Chase Zero out on the water for the day.
“An amazing team effort to go out there and pull off the first tack as a foiling tack, the first gybe a foiling gybe,” concluded Davies. “The boat is going really well, we have a few tweaks for sure, but awesome to sail with Nath, Sam and Nick. All of the support guys have done an incredible job, out of the box and we were ripping around foiling.”
The AC40s are conceived to be dual purpose boats, providing one-design racing in the run-up to the America’s Cup itself (and for the Youth and Women’s AC) but also to function as a test platform for the teams to develop and trial concepts ahead of building their AC75s for the America’s Cup proper.
This second function is vital to control costs – it is much cheaper to develop concepts on a smaller class than it is on the larger AC75.
But when it comes to the two preliminary events ahead of the AC (a third preliminary event will be sailed in AC75s), the Youth America’s Cup, and the Women’s America’s Cup, all boats will need to be stripped back to conform to the one-design AC40 rule.
Teams will now be hoping that the delivery schedule remains on track so they too can get their hands on their AC40 (which will be delivered in order of America’s Cup teams entry to the event) and begin their testing programme.
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