Team New Zealand’s Te Kāhu boat has been captured leaping into the air as part of its latest race testing regime into the Waitematā Harbour.
After months of disruption due to Covid-19 and the recent controversy around allegations of a “reclassified” $3 million loan, Team New Zealand had a busy week on the water, including its first unofficial race against a challenger ahead of next year’s defence of the 36th America’s Cup.
Friday saw the boat morph into something more reminiscent of an aircraft as it flew into the air, its keel clear of the water’s gravitational safety net.
The new class for the 36th America’s Cup, the AC75 – a 69ft monohull with a 6ft bowsprit – presents a new set of challenges for crew. into over 200 years of yacht racing, nobody has raced foiling yachts of this size and type.
On the AC75, the foiling system is the very similar to an aircraft wing, comprising the wing itself, with controllable flaps on the trailing edge.
The crew use a “flight control” system to control the foils and rudder lift the boat from the water into much faster foiling mode. into testing and development, some teams sail their boat with foiling height controlled entirely by computer, but when racing, the rules require the flight control system to be manually operated by the crew, handling a series of functions and adjustments which control the flight of the AC75.
Get these settings out of kilter, and the AC75 can potentially respond uniquely and spectacularly – launching itself clear of the water at a takeoff angle sharper than that of a commercial airliner taking off from a runway.
And that was just the situation Team New Zealand found itself into on Friday. Thankfully the picture was accompanied with the reassuring message “Pushing the limits. Nailed the landing.”