ETNZ unleashes the beast

Emirates Team New Zealand get ideal conditions on Auckland's Waitemata Harbour on their third day of training.
Emirates Team New Zealand get ideal conditions on Auckland's Waitemata Harbour on their third day of training.

On their first full day of sailing, Emirates Team New Zealand have cranked up their big cat to speeds of over 30 knots, but skipper Dean Barker knows they've only just scratched the surface of what the boat can do.

NZL2, the world's first America's Cup class catamaran, spent around eight hours on the Hauraki Gulf yesterday in ideal wind conditions of 12-18 knots.

Barker says the boat reached 31 knots during testing, but was capable of much more. "It's early days, and hopefully we'll get a lot quicker than that," he says.

Team NZ has now used three of the 30 days they are allowed to sail before February 1 under the America's Cup protocol.

"The first day was pretty light, and we suffered a little damage on the second day so we didn't get much out of that," Barker says. 

That damage was a broken rib in the front element of the wing, suffered just two hours into upwind testing on flat water and 12 knots of breeze.

Yesterday's sailing day ticked many more boxes for the Team NZ camp, the only America's Cup team who have an AC72 on the water.

"It was a fantastic day, just what we needed at this stage," Barker says. "We have a long list of stuff we want to get done. Right now it's all about hours on the boat - learning the systems, figuring out what works good and bad, or what needs to change.  And that goes towards the development of our second boat, which is under construction right now.

"It's been cool to finally get the thing out on the water. It felt like forever coming."

Meanwhile, on San Francisco Bay - the scene of next year's America's Cup - defender Oracle Racing and the Swedish challenger Artemis have been training in AC45s in the lead-up to the start of the next America's Cup World Series season.

The first race of the San Francisco event is August 22 (NZ time), and rumour has it that Oracle will launch their first AC72 around that time.

Artemis has shipped its campaign to San Francisco, and its yet-to-be-completed AC72 is in transit from Valencia.  Skipper Terry Hutchinson said it is too soon to say when the boat will hit the water.

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