Team NZ and their flying machine
By Greg Pearson
Saturday marks exactly one year until Oracle begins their defence of the America’s Cup.
Day five on the water and Team New Zealand's AC72 isn't just purring, it's flying. The black and red cat was tearing across the Waitemata at 40 knots, both hulls clear out of the water.
“It's been a huge learning curve but we're feeling better every day we come out,” says Kevin Shoebridge, chief operating officer for Emirates Team NZ.
“Quite a bit of breeze out here today so it's quite a nervous time sailing a boat like this in about 20 knots for the first time - but it's going really well.”
Helping the boat go twice as fast as the wind are foils on the bottom of the two dagger boards. They work like wings on a plane, lifting the big cat out of the water.
And the result of that - even more speed.
“The whole thing's pretty exciting. A 72-foot boat leaping along at the speeds it does in not much wind. It's an amazing thing. And when you get up close it's an amazing sight.”
But even on day five of 30 between launch and the end of January, there's no time to ease their way into sailing.
“A lot of your learning needs to happen up front, because anything you need to lean will go into the second boat so we've pretty keen to give it a nudge right now.”
The Kiwi's were the first to hit the water, but defenders Oracle are now chasing.
They launched this week in San Francisco and Team New Zealand is keeping a close eye on the opposition.
“It's a very good looking boat, very refined boat, but we'll look at it closely for sure. Just got to wait for them next time and look at it closely for sure.”
All going to plan, they'll get a close up view in the America’s Cup finals in a year’s time.