America's Cup holders Oracle launched their repaired catamaran today, promising a cautious approach initially as they look to maximise their training and testing opportunities after October's inglorious mishap.
Oracle's AC72 was all but demolished when it capsized in mid-range winds in San Francisco in October.
They have lost valuable time with their rebuild, allowing their rivals to progress in some key areas ahead of racing which starts in San Francisco in July with the Louis Vuitton Cup before September's America's Cup sail-off.
There was quiet satisfaction in the Team New Zealand camp yesterday when they managed to unveil their second generation boat a day before Oracle could get their original back in the water.
In a sport full of mind-games, it was a subtle way for Grant Dalton's team to show the precision of their campaign so far, following 30 successful and largely incident-free days of testing with their first AC72.
But Oracle have used their enforced layoff wisely with general manager Grant Simmer says the design and build crews did more than just repair the boat - they have improved it with several key modifications.
"We've changed to wheel (from tiller) steering, that's a big one," Simmer said.
"The fairing on the front beam has become more substantial than it was. We've revised a lot of the systems on the boat. We've got the next generation of boards in the boat, that was always planned, so we're moving forward with that. And this is the second wing too. It has subtle developments throughout but the profile is fairly similar to the original one, so it looks quite similar."
He also revealed that the repairs included working less twist in the platform - an area that come under scrutiny from sailing experts in the wake of their training mishap.
"The amount that the platform racked (twisted) was a trade-off with weight and windage in the structure of the boat. That trade-off is still there. We've made some subtle changes that will reduce the racking, but again, it's a design decision trading off windage and weight."
It's about small steps right now for oracle.
"We're taking it cautiously and luckily it's a light wind day," he said.
Oracle are only allowed 45 days of sailing before May 1. Then the restrictions are lifted on all four syndicates in the final leadup to racing.
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